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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The 7th Voyage of Sinbad

Posted By on Wed, Jul 18, 2007 at 12:00 AM

A half-century ago, before any image could be rendered on desktop microprocessors, movie magic was something you had to work for, and nobody worked harder than Ray Harryhausen. The protégé of King Kong creator Willis O’Brien, Harryhausen was the grand master of the grueling process of stop-motion animation, creating fearsome monsters by hand and giving them life through ingenuity and sweat. As the mastermind behind four decades of heart-stopping fantasy classics, Harryhausen is revered as a holy cleric by the geek masses, and fondly remembered by anyone lucky enough to catch his strange wizardry at an impressionable age.

Amongst the most beloved of the Harryhausen canon is the immortal 1958 adventure The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, an action-packed, candy-colored spectacle that retains its charm even in this jaded era of effects fatigue. Only the viewer with the flintiest heart could possibly resist the majesty of the cyclops, a massive, demonic-looking beast with terrible attitude and a jones for freshly roasted human. Equally irresistible is the squawking terror of the roc, a giant flapping, two-headed monster, whose rare eggs Captain Sinbad (Kirwin Matthews) must claim to save Baghdad from destruction.

Along the way, the captain and his intrepid crew battle evil wizards, a crafty genie and a mean dragon. Another highlight, in a movie crammed of them, is the epic duel between Sinbad and a nasty enchanted skeleton (not played by Nicole Ritchie!).

Sure the acting’s stiff as boards, and the obvious blue screens will spur giggles from brats who’ve grown up on cookie-cutter CGI wonders. These old-school goblins may seem a little silly after you’ve seen an SUV morph into a robot at 100 MPH, but, remember, these herky-jerky ghouls were as mind-blowing to our parents and grandparents as the first sight of Jurassic Park’s T-Rex was to younger eyes. Plus, you can’t fake soul, and this Cyclops? Well, the dude just has it, baby.

Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com.

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