Monday, July 06, 2015

Sinbad: the Fifth Voyage – review

Director: Shahin Sean Solimon

Release date: 2014

Contains spoilers

I was to see this at the 2014 Bram Stoker International Film Festival but it had fallen from the schedule when we arrived. This disappointed me as it looked to be a homage to the Ray Harryhausen films of yore. Having now seen the film, it is just that, but it doesn’t necessarily succeed in what it tries to do.

a roc
What I didn’t expect was to be looking at it here at TMtV. It turns out that there is a brief vampire section (it was actually suggested they were lamia but, to me, they are pretty much vampires and are named as such in credit), which would have at least led to an Honourable Mention. There is also the main bad guy, The Deev (Said Faraj), who is essentially an energy vampire and his presence raises this to a review.

on board
So the film starts with a narration by Patrick Stewart (Lifeforce) who is Sinbad (played in film by Shahin Sean Solimon) grown old and story-telling. We get some guff about going to shore after a traitorous voyage but having become bored of the quiet life and setting to sea again on this, his 5th voyage. I say guff as it doesn’t really tie in with the actual film’s story that way – where the fact he was out to sea was to gain a wedding present for his fiancée Parisa (Danielle Pollack) and the subsequent voyage was to rescue her.

The film then goes to a point in the past with a woman, pregnant, facing a storm and something coming for her from a vortex. Then we see Sinbad and his crew arriving at a city shrouded in dark magic. They come ashore and the populous are frozen – all except the old witch Zoreh (Lorna Raver). She takes Sinbad into the palace and explains that the Sultan (David Light) had thrown a party for his daughter Parisa. The magician hired to entertain them had wowed them by summoning a creature and a cosmic map before freezing the court/city and spiriting Parisa away.

We then see what Sinbad had been up to (the magician mocks the fact that he isn’t there) and it was securing an “amulet of life” that Parisa had seen in a vision as a wedding gift for her. This led to him fighting a six armed goddess statue. So it would seem now is as opportune a time as any to talk about the creature effects. They aren’t bad – the Goddess looks quite good though the creature in the palace looks a bit too false – not a patch on Ray Harryhausen but they wouldn’t be. What didn’t convince me, necessarily, was the interaction. This was not down to the models, though. When Sinbad holds off two swords with his dual scimitars, for instance, I wondered why the statue failed to use the other 4 swords? The sequence seemed a bit staid in the fighting aspect and a combination of both of these things made the scene not quite work.

So, Sinbad must voyage to save Parisa and at one point, having lost his crew – assumed dead – he comes across a building with a woman outside. She invites him in the building and the crew are there, alive, eating, drinking and being entertained by more women. Sinbad, however, goes outside to muse upon the past. The woman approaches him and tries to seduce him – believing herself to be irresistible. When he resists her she sprouts fangs and attacks – Sinbad cuts her head off and she dusts.

effect of sun exposure
Inside the crew are attacked and all of them killed – bar the female crew member who is bitten and left to turn. She doesn’t want that fate and so Sinbad holds her until the sun rises – turning her into a desiccated corpse. And that’s it for the main vampire section but it underlines the problem with the film. We get little sequences that don’t seem to hold together so well as a narrative – especially with the historic flashback sequences the film uses. In some cases they needed expansion – this scene being an example. In others there needs to be more follow through, for instance where Sinbad saves his crew in a non-violent way from a Roc we do see the Roc later but the original sequence would suggest that the Roc would actually play a positive role in the end sequences.

Said Faraj as the Deev
I should also mention the Deev. It is suggested that he drinks souls and drains energy. Those he does this to may become either his soulless (and willing) servants or die. There isn’t much more detail given to his vampirism than that, I’m afraid, and other than having a very white face we don’t get too much about him. Apparently his powers are limited to his own island (or so he says, I assume his ability to wow the Sultan’s court with magic was down to him having sand from his homeland in a tiny casket – this isn’t explicitly explained).

vampire attack
The film misses, I’m afraid. It isn’t the effects – whilst not a patch on the three Sinbad films by Ray Harryhausen I could certainly live with them. I think it was more that the kitchen sink was thrown at the story and, in fact, less would have been more. I never really got a sense of peril either, as Sinbad was narrating his own tale. The characterisation was sketchy to say the least, except for Sinbad who we received lots of flashback moments. It is a shame but I found this disappointing despite the homage aspect. 3.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

No comments: