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Movie Review

During a routine heist at sea, a greedy pirate named Sinbad boards the ship of Prince Proteus, the childhood companion he hasn’t seen in 10 years. Proteus is thrilled to see him. Sinbad returns pleasantries, but won’t be distracted from his prize, the coveted Book of Peace. Their awkward reunion is interrupted by a sea monster out to tear both of their ships apart, plank by plank. The men team up to defeat it, and Proteus retains possession of the Book of Peace, which he ceremoniously delivers to his father’s kingdom in Syracuse. Eris, the goddess of chaos, wants the book as well, and promises Sinbad untold wealth if he’ll steal it for her. Initially he agrees. But once in Syracuse, after seeing Proteus with his bride-to-be Marina, he has a change of heart. So Eris switches to plan B and does the deed herself, framing Sinbad for the crime. The council apprehends Sinbad and sentences him to death. Proteus believes in Sinbad’s innocence and, realizing that only Sinbad can retrieve the Book of Peace and clear his name, offers to take his place on death row. Sinbad has 10 days to return with the book or Proteus dies. At first Sinbad plans to sail to Fiji, unconcerned about Proteus’ fate. Goaded by his men and Marina (an unwelcome stowaway), he has a gradual change of heart. Soon everyone on board is fully invested in the quest for the Book of Peace, and must overcome Eris’ celestial meddling in order to save the day.

positive elements: Wonderful examples of self-sacrifice invite family discussion. Prince Proteus is the film’s real hero, a noble man of integrity who believes the best of his boyhood pal even when Sinbad may not be worthy of his trust. Proteus goes so far as to offer his life in exchange for Sinbad’s, confident that his framed friend will responsibly use his freedom to clear his name and return to save Proteus’ neck. For years, Proteus has been betrothed to Marina (an arranged marriage) and seems to genuinely love her. His desire for her happiness is so deep that he offers her the chance to forgo the wedding if her heart is leading her elsewhere. He cares for the people in his kingdom and is dedicated to serving them. Several of the cutthroats in Sinbad’s company behave like gentlemen in the presence of lady Marina. They even shame their captain for being rude and ungrateful toward her. Marina is a brave, confident female who swings into action to rescue her shipmates. During a seemingly hopeless crisis, Sinbad barks orders that sound crazy to his men, but because they do their duty without challenging his authority, the ship is saved (an illustration of our need to trust God’s instructions even when the outcome may be unclear). Sinbad starts out a heartless mercenary and shows maturity as the story moves along. He demonstrates increased respect to Marina. He risks his own safety to save his friends. [Spoiler warning] He even returns to Syracuse empty-handed to take Proteus’ place on the chopping block. Faced with a moral challenge by Eris, Sinbad passes the test. Also, despite his love for Marina, Sinbad respects her relationship with Proteus and doesn’t pursue her.

spiritual content: Mythological polytheism is the prevailing worldview. In a moment of peril, Sinbad tells Marina, "Pray to the gods. We may be meeting them soon." The evil Eris amuses herself by controlling Sirens and monsters, and wreaking havoc in the lives of mortals. She answers to no higher power and is bound only by her own promises. Eris lives in a celestial haven and knows the hearts of individuals well enough to predict their behavior. The human inhabitants of "the 12 cities" put their faith in the sacred Book of Peace, a glowing idol of sorts which is said to have protected them for 1,000 years.

sexual content: Sinbad is a ladies man who makes it clear he’d love nothing more than to retire to the Fiji islands and cavort with native girls. He and Marina kiss passionately. The seat of Sinbad’s pants gets torn, revealing one bare buttock. Sinbad and his entranced crew are seduced by Sirens, watery silhouettes of shapely women who kiss and caress the pirates in an attempt to destroy them (there���s a lesson here about lust, the lure of sexual sin and how dangerously deceptive it can be). Some viewers may consider Eris a bit too slinky and seductive.

violent content: Sword battles and knife fights are common, though Sinbad and his friends humiliate victims rather than killing them. A soldier gets tossed overboard. Wild thrills and spills occur when Eris’ "pets" (a tentacled sea monster, a giant bird of prey, an enormous scorpion, etc.) attack Sinbad and his friends. There are few if any fatalities. When the sea monster gobbles up a pirate, the buccaneer gets spit out alive a moment later. A huge bird grabs Marina in its talons. Proteus and Sinbad impale a sea creature with the ship’s sharp masts. Verbal sparring between Sinbad and Marina evolves into throwing objects at each other. Punches land with a crunch. Both Proteus and Sinbad face the executioner’s blade, only to be saved at the last minute. Human skulls are found in an eerie ship graveyard. An earthquake-like phenomenon rocks Syracuse.

crude or profane language: Sinbad says "butt" and "friggin’." Sly anatomical jokes will probably fly over the heads of young viewers, but still feel gratuitous. At one point Sinbad relates a story to Marina in which his enemy had "a sword at my throat, a sword at my chest, a sword at my [points to crotch]" and is interrupted when a crewman shouts, "Pickles and eggs!" Elsewhere, Sinbad alludes to his first mate’s cold, erect nipples. When he introduces his dog to Marina he says, "If he starts hugging your leg, it means he likes you."

drug and alcohol content: People drink wine at a banquet.

other negative elements: Although he experiences a positive change of heart in some respects, Sinbad never renounces his life of piracy and makes comments that romanticize thievery. His shipmates wager money on all sorts of things. Seasick men look green around the gills and a stray remark implies that someone has blown chow.

conclusion: Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas is a fun adventure combining hand-drawn animation with computer-generated imagery. The people in it are interesting and the action is wild. Just as many of us grew up watching old Ray Harryhausen films like Jason and the Argonauts and The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, this is the modern equivalent for the Xbox generation. Beyond being a good popcorn flick, this Sinbad soars when it tackles virtues such as nobility, unselfish love, redemption and supreme sacrifice—great discussion starters for families. It would be an easy film to recommend if not for a few crude lines, an amoral view of piracy, and dubious theology. Even if parents decide to brave the jokes and explain how Hollywood can romanticize anti-social behavior, they run the risk of children confusing polytheistic fantasy with biblical truth. Parental guidance strongly suggested.

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Brad Pitt as Sinbad; Catherine Zeta-Jones as Marina; Michelle Pfeiffer as Eris; Joseph Fiennes as Proteus; Dennis Haysbert as Kale


Tim Johnson ( )Patrick Gilmore ( )





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Bob Smithouser