• Golden Voyage Of Sinbad, The

    Released by: Twilight Time Releasing
    Released on: December 10th, 2013.
    Director: Gordon Hessler
    Cast: John Phillip Law, Tom Baker, Carolyn Munroe
    Year: 1973
    Purchase From Screen Archives

    The Movie:

    Made almost two decades after the success of The 7th Voyage Of Sinbad (that being the first Sinbad movie that Ray Harryhausen was involved with), the story begins when we find Sinbad (played this time out by John Phillip Law of Danger! Diabolik fame) and new rag tag crew of sea hardy sailors on their way to take down a homunculus. This beast, brought to fantastic life through Harryhausen’s stop motion techniques, is carrying a mysterious golden tablet that they need to retrieve. A sailor uses his archery skills to force the beast into dropping the tablet, and Sinbad ties it around his neck as a souvenir.

    Unfortunately for everyone's favorite Arabian sailor man, an evil magician named Prince Koura (the amazing Tom Baker of Doctor Who!) was the sinister man behind the creation of the homunculus. He considers the tablet Sinbad has now retrieved to be his personal property and he's bound and determined to chase Sinbad down and get it back no matter what the cost.

    Soon after the tablet incident, Sinbad meets a strange man in a golden mask known only as the Grand Vizier (Douglas Wilmer). He explains to Sinbad why Koura is after the tablet. It seems that the tablet has two other parts to it and when the three are joined, they create a magic talisman. And so Sinbad runs off on a quest across the seven seas trying to figure out where the other two pieces of the magical talisman are hiding so that he can solve the puzzle. Luckily, one of the slave girls in his possession, Margiana (Carolyn Munroe), just might be able to help him out in that regard - and he's going to need it! For as we all know, the seas are full of monsters…

    The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad takes what was good about the first entry in the series and cranks everything up a few notches for maximum impact. Again, Harryhausen's signature effects work is the real start of the show, but Law makes for a great hero and Carolyn Monroe is always ever so easy on the eyes. The effects work (or, if you prefer, ‘Dynamation’!) is insanely detailed, and you can almost feel every ridge and dimple on the creatures' bodies as the swerve, dive and attack throughout the film – highlighted by the scene in which a centaur takes on a giant griffin towards the end of the film.

    While the stop motion effects bring the fantastic to life, the movie remains grounded in a fairly human element. Law is the noble hero with a rascally side, the fun loving swashbuckler always in search of adventure. He’s great in the part. He’s got the right look but also has a good physicality to his performance that ensures he handles himself well in the action scenes. Carolyn Munroe is pretty stunning here and while her character doesn’t have as much to do, dramatically speaking, as some of the others in the film she carries herself well and is a lot of fun in the role. The real scene stealer here is Tom Baker, obviously best known as the fourth (and best) incarnation of The Doctor on the BBC’s long running Doctor Who. Some great make up effects help to play up his ridiculously expressive eyes in interesting ways here and he really seems to get into his role as the film’s chief antagonist.

    Given the decade in which it was made and the direction that a lot of American filmmakers were heading at the time, this might feel like a throwback of sorts to the science fiction and adventure films of an earlier, more innocent time. On that level, the movie is maybe a little naïve, outdated even, but to anyone with an appreciation for adventure on a grand scale, it’s hard to find fault with Hessler and Harryhausen’s collaborative efforts on The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad.


    The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad debuts on Blu-ray framed at 1.66.1 widescreen in AVC encoded 1080p high definition in a transfer that completely blows away the previous DVD release. Colors look absolutely gorgeous here, really showing off the filters used to light up the weird cave where much of the finale takes place and also allowing for some really radiant sunshine and outdoor landscapes. Skin tones look lifelike and natural, there are no issues with noise reduction to note, while compression artifacts are held firmly in check. Edge enhancement is never a problem and the source material appears to have been in excellent condition as outside of a couple of specks here and there, the picture is more or less pristine. Detail and texture are both very obviously and impressively better than what we had with standard definition and while some of the film’s many optical effects are maybe a little more obviously just that, this is really an excellent picture.

    The only audio option for the feature itself is an English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track, with optional subtitles provided in English SDH. While it would have been nice to see the original mono track included here, the 5.1 remix is fairly faithful to the source material. The dialogue pretty much stays in the front of the mix while the surround channels handle most of the effects and sometimes spread out the score to nice effect. Levels are properly balanced and there are no issues with hiss or distortion to note.

    Extras are primarily made up of material we’ve seen from the previous DVD releases, starting with an eleven minutes Mysterious Island featurette in which Harryhausen talks about his work on this particular picture and we’re made privy to some of the design work and illustration work that took place before production. We also get a seven minutes 3 Worlds Of Gulliver featurette that features Harryhausen explaining how some of the matte effects featured in that movie were made, and the twelve minute Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers featurette in which Joe Dante interviews Harryhausen about his work.

    Outside of that, the disc also includes the film’s original theatrical trailer, an isolated score track in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, menus and chapter selection. Inside the Blu-ray case is a nice full color booklet of liner notes from Julie Kirgo that offer up some welcome trivia and a good history of the picture as well as some context as to where it falls alongside the other Sinbad films and other pictures that Harryhausen was involved with.

    The Final Word:

    Hessler and Harryhausen’s The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad remains a consummate fantasy adventure film. Not only does the film feature an excellent cast all at the top of their game but it showcases some of the most imaginative and impressive effects set pieces of its day. Twilight Time’s Blu-ray release provides a substantial leap up in quality over the past DVD release and anyone even remotely enthralled with Harryhausen’s talents should consider this essential.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Lalala76's Avatar
      Lalala76 -
      Was shipped a while ago, but who knows when I will receive this. Nice to see the review.