Plot: What’s it about?
Sinbad (Kerwin Matthews) has a problem. A nefarious magician, Sokurah (Torin Thatcher), has cast a spell on the princess, and she’s not the girl she used to be. In fact, Parisa (Kathryn Grant) is a small fraction of the girl she used to be, measuring in at only five inches tall! In order to break this terrible spell, Sinbad must journey off to the island of Colossa, which isn’t exactly paradise on Earth, if you dig what I mean. Just what is on this damn island that can help Sinbad? Well, for starters, Sokurah’s castle is there, and second, the ingredient Sinbad needs to break the spell is there, a bird’s egg shell. But this bird is not a robin or a parakeet, it’s a Roc, a monstrous two headed bird, who doesn’t like outsiders none too much. But that’s not all that Sinbad and his crew must battle, the island is filled with cyclopses, mean old one eyed characters, and assorted other baddies. The only outside help Sinbad has is a bottled up Genie, but only if the secrets of the bottle can be discovered. Can Sinbad get the goods, save the girl, and get the heck out of Dodge before he gets turned into a punching bag for the cyclopses?
The 7th Voyage of Sinbad is a fun movie, with some great special effects. Keep in mind as you watch that this film was made in 1958, no CGI, all hand crafted effects. And while they may not be as polished as today’s effects, the creatures and visual effects in this film are nothing short of amazing. A process called Dynamation was used, and the imagination and skill of Ray Harryhausen brings them all to life. Using stop motion, Harryhausen created some fantastic pieces, such as the cyclopses, who look and move very well. Unlike today’s computer effects, Harryhausen’s work is unique, and you can always spot his creations. Good luck deciphering the artist behind CGI effects. While some say the Harryhausen style is dated, and belongs in the past, I believe the style is immortal, and will always have a place in my film collection. The acting in this film is also good, though it takes a back seat to Harryhausen’s “actors.” Sinbad is played with energy and vigor by Kerwin Matthews (The Three Worlds of Gulliver), and the princess, played by Kathryn Grant (Anatomy of a Murder), has a very cute appealing look to her. The no good magician Sokurah, played by Torin Thatcher (Hawaii), is a nice addition to this cast as well. Rounding out this cast is Alfred Brown, Danny Green, Richard Eyer, and Alec Mango. This Blu-ray release is a treasure for Harryhausen fans, with a great looking transfer and some worthwhile extras. So ditch those DVDs, this is the version to own.
Video: How does it look?
The 7th Voyage of Sinbad is presented in 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen. I hoped for the best with this transfer, but I had some doubts. In the end, this treatment is great and fans are in for a real. The Technicolor visuals come across well, with vivid colors that stand out like never before. I am sure the theatrical prints showed more color depth, but the hues here shine more than on other home video versions, to be sure. The level of detail is solid, not outstanding, but better than the DVDs, without question. The print looks good also, with inherent grain intact and a clean overall presence. So this goes to show, even older catalog pictures can benefit from a high definition makeover.
Audio: How does it sound?
This Dolby TrueHD 5.1 option opens up the audio a little, but still remains faithful to the original sound design. So in other words, expect some extra life in the mix, but don’t expect amped up audio presence. The music benefits the most and that is great news, since Bernard Hermann’s score is quite enjoyable. The other elements don’t get as much of a boost, but some of the more action oriented segments do get a small kick up. In any event, this new soundtrack sounds good and natural, which is what matters the most. No issues whatsoever with dialogue, so no concerns there. This disc also includes the original mono soundtrack, French and Thai language tracks, and subtitles in English, French, Korean, Spanish, Chinese, Indonesian, and Thai.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The main feature is a one hour documentary on Ray Harryhausen, and is one of the best I have seen on DVD to date. It follows his work from his youth all the way to Clash of the Titans. It implements interviews, model close-ups, and concept drawings, a true masterpiece for Harryhausen fans. The disc also includes two Harryhausen interviews, in which he reveals some the more difficult parts of this film to make, as well as some insight on Jason and the Argonauts. You get a promotional short used to show the new effects off, called “This is Dynamation,” which is a fun piece. This disc also includes audio comments from Harryhausen and others, a Sinbad music video, and a featurette on the music of Bernard Hermann.