Blu-ray Review: Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger

STUDIO: Twilight Time | DIRECTOR: Sam Wanamaker | CAST: Patrick Wayne, Taryn Power, Margaret Whiting, Jane Seymour, Patrick Troughton
BLU-RAY DVD RELEASE DATE: 12/10/2013 | PRICE: Blu-ray $29.95
BONUSES: isolated score track, This is Dynamation featurette
SPECS: G | 113 min. | Fantasy adventure | 1.85:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 | English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall


The third entry in a trilogy of fantasy adventures about the legendary sailor featuring stop-motion animation creations by the late, great Ray Harryhausen, 1977’s Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger is the weakest movie of lot. (1958’s The 7th Voyage of Sinbad is quite grand and 1973’s The Golden Voyage of Sinbad–now available on Blu-ray from Twilight Time–is also a lot of fun.) But the movie is not without its pleasures which, not surprisingly, come in the form of Harryhausen’s monsters. That said, this late-career Harryhausen film warrants some attention.

Sinbad and The Eye of the Tiger movie scene

The demonoids arise in Sinbad and The Eye of the Tiger.

Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger’s simple tale tells of Sinbad’s (Patrick Wayne) globe-spanning quest to return the brother of his beloved Princess Farah (Jane Seymour, Somewhere in Time) to manhood after an evil witch (Margaret Whiting) turns him into a baboon.

Directed by Sam Wanamaker, an undistinguished actor-director best known for his Emmy-nominated supporting role in the 1978 miniseries Holocaust, Eye of the Tiger is a pretty lackluster affair. Even its exotic locations—the live-action scenes were filmed in Spain, Malta and Jordan—come off as flat and, well, un-exotic. Ditto for its human elements—Wayne and Whiting don’t turn it up nearly enough for their colorful, larger-than-life roles, while the appeal of leading ladies Taryn Power (Tyrone’s daughter) and Jane Seymour ends with their beauty and “sexy” family-friendly costumes.

That leaves Harryhausen’s creations—a giant hornet, a mechanized minotaur, a mammoth walrus, a troglodyte, a saber-tooth tiger and a trio of skeletal demonoids, among them—which are always wondrous to behold with their carefully choreographed movements and overall sense of being alive. They’re not all as uninspired as they’d been in the past, some being  re-imagined rehashes of earlier creations. Let’s see…the demonoids are a combination of the Selenites from First Men in the Moon and the sword-wielding skeletons from Jason and the Argonauts and 7th Voyage, the mechanical Minotaur is a variation on Talos from Jason, and the giant wasp is reminiscent of the bees in Mysterious island.

Sinbad and The Eye of the Tiger

Jane Seymour confronts a worthy competitor in Sinbad and The Eye of the Tiger.

But then there’s the chess-playing, banana-inhaling baboon, which is startlingly fresh and real, and the giant walrus which rises out of the ice during the blizzard, which is just plain weird. And the end fight between the Neolithic troglodyte and a sabre-toothed tiger is a an outstanding animated sequence, which lots of leaping, tumbling and slashing. It’s too bad that the matte work and rear-projection effects are second-rate.

Harryhausen’s creations on Twilight Time’s Blu-ray release of Eye of the Tiger look simply gorgeous, overall film aside. They’re colorful, crisp and, again, alive!

Eye of the Tiger was release the same summer as Star Wars. Yikes! Although the film wasn’t the last gasp of stop-motion animation-driven fantasy films—that would be 1981’s Clash of the Titans, Harryhausen’s final production, which featured the finest work he had done since the late Sixties—Eye of the Tiger can be considered a preamble to the end of the gloriously crafted, digital-free and all-too-human approach to cinematic fantasy.

As supplier Twilight Time prints up only 3,000 copies of each title, grab this one–and Golden Voyage–from supplier Screen Archives as soon as you can, as I don’t think they’ll be easy to find after the holidays!

About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.