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Film review: Sinbad: Beyond the Veil of Mists

Published: Thursday, June 10 2004 7:49 a.m. MDT

A sure sign of trouble for a filmmaker is when your work looks more like a video game than a movie.

Unfortunately for the makers of the dreadful animated adventure, "Sinbad: Beyond the Veil of Mists," that's exactly what has happened.

That shouldn't come as a complete surprise, considering that the illustrations were created digitally, using some of the same animation techniques as those employed by video-game manufacturers.

And while the use of "motion-capture" technology is supposed to lead to smoother action and three-dimensional graphics, here it comes off looking surprisingly chintzy and unimpressive on the big screen.

If that isn't bad enough, the script comes from a first-timer, Jeff Wolverton, who is better known for his computer graphics work than for writing. And members of the voice cast (which includes such name actors as Brendan Fraser, as the main character) sound like they're being forced to perform at gunpoint.

Considering what an all-around awful effort this is, that might indeed be the case.

What story there is concerns Sinbad's efforts to save King Chandra (voiced by John Rhys-Davies) from being executed by mistake. It seems an evil wizard, Baraka (Leonard Nimoy), has used a potion to switch bodies with the kindly ruler. So it's up to the legendary sailor and the king's daughter, Serena (Jennifer Hale), to rescue him.

To do that, they must sail beyond the Veil of Mists, a fabled land that may contain clues about an antidote to Baraka's potion. Needless to say, the sorcerer isn't about to make it an easy trek, and sends all sorts of sea monsters to stop them from reaching their destination.

It's not a terribly original premise for a Sinbad adventure to begin with, but thanks to the slow pacing, the journey to reach their destination seems to take forever. And though the film is less than 90 minutes in length, it feels at least twice that long.

A little humor might have helped, and Wolverton's script is noticeably lacking in the laughs department. And Fraser and his fellow cast-members sound unmotivated to even try to give this thing life.

The silly-looking animation certainly doesn't help, nor does the bad sound synching. In fact, about the only thing the film does have going for it is some imaginative production design (by Joe Alves and Peter Rubin), though it too is spoiled by poor execution.

"Sinbad: Beyond the Veil of Mists" is rated PG for animated violence (including hand-to-hand combat, sword fighting and creature attacks) and a surprising amount of gore.