Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas Patrick Gilmore

Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas Patrick Gilmore
What's with all the allusions to ancient Greek mythology in the latest big-screen tale of the swashbuckling Arabian Knight, Sinbad? This particular incarnation, the DreamWorks-produced animated feature starring the voice talents of Brad Pitt and Catherine Zeta-Jones, is positively lousy with it: the sailor's old friend and romantic rival (Joseph Fiennes) is named Proteus, Michelle Pfeiffer lends her vocal chords to the wicked, voluptuous goddess of chaos, Eris (a bad girl whose moniker is suspiciously reminiscent of Greek sexual love), and there's even an appearance by the ultimate bad girls of ancient Greco-Roman myth, the Sirens. Alas, it seems that nowadays it's somehow deemed inappropriate for a character from ancient Arab myth to get his respectful due.

Along with the big, fat Greek imagery, the filmmakers have heaped on a generous portion of the irritating modern parlance that's marred many an animated historical epic (complete with an allusion to Pitt's well-formed posterior) amidst a plot involving something called the Book of Peace. When Eris steals the book from its rightful home of Syracuse, the pirate marauder naturally gets blamed for the nick and is sentenced to death for the crime. Proteus gallantly steps in to take Sinbad's place, on the condition that Sinbad travels to Eris's dangerous and otherworldly homeland to retrieve the book. Upon his release, the rapscallion and his crew set a course for the Figi Islands instead, until stowaway beauty Marina (Zeta-Jones) convinces him do the right thing.

The de rigueur mix of computer and traditional animation in Sinbad is decent enough, and Dream Works' decision to free their animated films from the Disney-fied tyranny of those rank musical numbers is always to be commended. Pfeiffer's Eris, a shape-shifting mix of ink and purple smoke, is a delight, and Pitt gives the lead role his all. But the story lacks the epic scope and sweep that makes myth wondrous and enduring. Remember the dazzlingly low-tech Harryhausen stop-motion Sinbad adventures of the '70s? Rest assured, your kids will not look back on this movie with the same wistful awe. You'll have better luck finding Nemo at the multiplex. (Dreamworks/Universal)