Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973)

I’ve always been a sucker for fantasy adventure movies. When I was a kid, it really didn’t get any better than the movies featuring Ray Harryhausen’s Dynamation special effects. Some of the best Harryhausen work could be found in his Sinbad adventure films. This film fell in the middle of that trilogy, but was it a step down from The 7th Voyage of Sinbad or was it an improvement on the crowd-pleasing adventurer and his journeys into the unknown?

Sinbad (John Philip Law) and his crew are returning from a successful journey when they run into a strange flying gargoyle creature. After shooting at it with an arrow it drops a golden bauble. Sinbad keeps this strange token. Unfortunately that little gargoyle was taking that treasure back to his master Prince Koura (Tom Baker) a deadly sorcerer. Koura pursues Sinbad, but the brave captain escapes to the city of a friendly Vizier (Douglas Wilmer), who hates Koura after the wizard melted the Vizier’s face off.

The Vizier reveals that he too has a golden treasure that fits with Sinbad’s into a kind of map. It leads to untold power, and the Vizier warns that Koura must not be allowed to obtain it. The two join forces to race the lost island of Lemuria before Koura can get there. But the scheming wizard has many magical traps up his sleeve. Sinbad and his crew will face a living wooden figurehead, a centaur/Cyclopes hybrid, a griffon and more fearsome of all, a living six armed statue of Kali who wields swords like a demon. Will Sinbad, his crew and the lovely Margiana (Caroline Munro) survive The Golden Voyage of Sinbad or will evil triumph?

Good Points:
  • Amazing Dynamation effects by Harryhausen
  • A wonderful Golden Age style score by Miklos Rozsa
  • Maintains the feel of a real Arabian Nights story

Bad Points:
  • Some of the composite effects show their seams
  • Some broad acting choices lead to unintentional laughs
  • Takes a while to set up the adventure

Easily my favorite of Harryhausen’s Sinbad trilogy. The cast, Tom Baker in particular, sells the story and adventure. I love that the film feels like an actual Arabian Night story. This one also contains some of Harryhausen’s most unique and amazing creations – especially the living statue of Kali. Between all the action, wonder, Caroline Munro's slave girl outfit and adventure you get one of the best Harryhausen fantasy films.

Scores (out of 5)
Visuals: 5
Sound: 4
Acting: 4
Script: 4
Music: 5
Direction: 5
Entertainment: 5
Total:  5

Curious about a full review, sent me an email and I’ll make additional thoughts to this review.


  1. There is something about a well crafted Dynamation model that beats all but the highest end CGI. The model is a real 3D object, and it shows. Even the stop-action movement sometimes seems appropriate. How should a bronze Kali move, after all?

    And then there is Caroline Munro.

    1. I agree. I think stop motion can still be very effective. One of my favorite use of the effect is for the AT-ATs and AT-STs in "Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi". Stop motion just seemed like the perfect fit for those monstrosities.

      And yes... Caroline Munro... wow.

  2. Hard to beat any Harryhausen for sheer entertainment or a rainy day. The guy was a real craftsman, but I think they were a pretty good meld of effects and story. The stories carried the effects and the characters in the stories also carried the storyline. When CGI first started out I think the creators forgot that you needed good stories and characters first, and then add on the effects. I think they've gotten better at it over time.

    1. I agree. That CG explosion in the early 90s was really kinda horrible to revisit. A lot of those movies were passible back in the day, but now they are kinda embarrassing. A few still hold up well, like "Jurassic Park" and "Terminator 2". But stuff like "Lawnmower Man" is better left in the dusty archives.