Blu-ray Review: Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger - Twilight Time Limited Edition

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In addition to issuing the 1973 The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, Twilight Time has also made the 1977 Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger available on Blu-ray for the first time as well. Together, these cheesy fantasy flicks serve as a tribute to the amazing stop-motion model animation of Ray Harryhausen. The visual effects pioneer passed away May 7, 2013 at the age of 92. While The 7th Voyage of Sinbad from 1958 was Harryhausen’s first Sinbad movie, Eye of the Tiger was his last. The story is not especially imaginative or well told. But the effects, however dated the technique may be, hold up as true wonders. Perhaps even more entertaining than Golden Voyage (though generally held in lower regard), Tiger Is a real trip—short on coherence, but long on eye-popping craziness.

There are also two more very good reasons to take this particular journey with Sinbad, and they don’t have anything to do with special effects. Co-starring alongside Patrick Wayne as Sinbad are Jane Seymour, as his main squeeze Princess Farah, and Taryn Power, portraying the daughter of Sinbad’s alchemist ally Melanthius (Patrick Troughton). Both Seymour and Power are stunningly beautiful and spend much of the running time cavorting about in revealing costumes. Despite the G rating, director Sam Wanamaker even manages to work in a nude swimming scene with his two leading ladies (strategically staged, of course, so as not spoil the family-friendly atmosphere).

Sinbad and Eye of the Tiger cover.jpgThe shambling plot involves Sinbad’s attempt to reverse a curse placed on Farah’s brother Kassim (Damien Thomas). Zenobia (Margaret Whiting), Farah and Kassim’s stepmother, turned Kassim into a baboon in order to prevent him being made caliph. They need Melanthius to help them transform Kassim back into his human form. My eyes glaze over just trying to remember what exactly happens throughout Eye of the Tiger and why. The story is just a framework to hang Harryhausen’s set pieces on, with such sights as a giant killer bee, a bronze golem, and a gigantic walrus all providing welcome distractions. The best part is actually the baboon in which Kassim is trapped. Entirely animated, this ape displays a considerable amount of believable emotion. Late in their quest, Sinbad and company encounter a friendly troglodyte that is similarly realistic.

As for the technical presentation, Eye of the Tiger is very similar to the excellent job done with Golden Voyage. Non-effects shots are exceedingly clear, offering up Ted Moore’s cinematography in vivid detail. Moore won an Oscar for A Man for All Seasons in 1967 and was also a veteran James Bond cinematographer, having lensed seven 007 adventures beginning with Dr. No. As with Golden Voyage, the optical effects-heavy shots that dominate the film are inherently much grainier and speckled with artifacts. It’s just something that went with the territory in films from that era.

Sinabad Eye of Tiger Jane Seymour.jpgInstead of the original mono mix, the audio has been repurposed as a lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix. Though the expansion wasn’t really necessary, the fidelity is very good. Again very similar to what was done with Golden Voyage (also upgraded from mono to surround), the action-oriented scenes involve the highest degree of surround activity. Roy Budd’s score is also nicely distributed throughout the spectrum.

Sinbad Eye of Tiger troglodyte.jpgThough light on extras, the Blu-ray does feature Budd’s score as a DTS-HD MA isolated track. The only other feature (aside from the film’s original theatrical trailer) is a very short featurette about Harryhausen’s stop-motion effects called “This is Dynamation.” Those interested in ordering Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (as well as The Golden Voyage of Sinbad) should head over to Screen Archives. Twilight Time has only issued their customary 3,000 copy run, and once supplies are exhausted you’re out of luck.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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