Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (UK, 1977)




The third and finale Sinbad film from Schneer and Harryhausen and with a title that always reminds me of the Rocky franchise. To this day I'm not sure why its called this, what has 'the eye of the tiger' got to do with anything?

So its same old Sinbad, same old plot I'm afraid, and that means he's yet again off to find a mythical object/location again. This time its because he must change a Prince back to human form after an evil sorcerer turned him into a baboon. This means he must sail to Hyperborea (sounds almost Conan-like) with his trusty crew consisting of the usual attractive females, wise old men and monster fodder ship mates to save the Prince.

The last Sinbad adventure was pretty average and this film fares no better really. Straight away Sinbad must fight off a trio of demons that have been summoned by the evil sorcerer and it looks hokey as hell. Not only are the demon creations visually poor looking, surprisingly for Harryhausen, but the entire fight sequence is badly done and looks dodgy. Patrick Wayne is doing all manner of lame martial arts moves (yes that's right!!) involving spin kicks and it just looks hilariously bad.

From there on much like the previous film nothing much happens really, Prince Kassim is an animated baboon which is very nicely done by Harryhausen. Not exactly thrilling to watch and not his best work for me but it looks good none the less, sounds effects for the animal are less enjoyable and do grate in time. The only other creature we have alongside that for a while is the Minaton which again is terribly disappointing and pointless really because it does nothing. It merely becomes a rowing machine for the evil sorcerer and then gets crushed towards the end.

So after much travelling as expected the team finally get somewhere, not before fighting a giant walrus which again is pretty average really. The whole sequence doesn't look too good and neither does Harryhausen's creation, it also seems a rather ineffective unimportant sequence and would have made no difference if it was in the film or not.

The whole film perks up as we reach the finale, Sinbad and co meet a Troglodyte which puts your faith back in Ray's work again. A simple character creation but highly effective and conveying some nice simple emotion, you do care for the big trog as he seems such a gentle big friendly giant (you can also clearly see how the same model is used again for Calibos in 'Clash of the Titans'). Once we reach the magical source to return the Prince back to normal things finally get more exciting as classic Harryhausen comes into force with the trog having to fight a saber-tooth cat.

This is really the only one fun decent sequence in the entire film and is pure Harryhausen gold. Its not the best monster mash we've seen Ray do but its brilliantly done and quite bloody too. The poor old trog gets a real good ripping from the big cat and you do feel sorry for the big guy. At the same time the saber-tooth looks really excellent with realistic fur, eyes and movement. Alas trog gets killed in the end but kudos to Ray for making such a simple yet likeable, muted creature (grunts aside).

That's pretty much it really I'm afraid to say. Its all very generic and mundane in all honesty and considering 'Star Wars' had hit the silver screen in the same year it shows how childish it was really. These last two Sinbad films really do come across as films purely to showcase Harryhausen's skills, that's not a bad thing of course as its a joy to see Ray's animations but at the same time the films offered very little else.

There is still the charm of it all, the acting is hokey yet everybody looks good and you do expect these hammy qualities. This time Sinbad has two lovely ladies at his side in Seymour and Power, both there obviously to look dazzling but little else. Wayne is probably the weakest Sinbad of the three but he does have those dashing rugged good looks that are necessary plus he can make the stereotypical Arabian facial hair work. Only Patrick Troughton puts in the most memorable performance as the old Greek alchemist Melanthius, but that really is no surprise. The villain or the wise old man are usually the best performed characters in these dated films.

If you put down the rose tinted glasses you really do see how poor this film is, its even worse than the previous Sinbad film because there isn't really any awesome Harryhausen moments. On the whole the film is under average and just feels stretched, you can see the franchise has gone stale and is struggling for inspiration. That said its still worthy of a watch, just about, but compared to previous Harryhausen flicks its very lackluster and disappointing.

4/10