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A skeleton grabs a sword and slashes viciously at Sinbad. A 9-foot-tall Neanderthal man fights to the death with a saber-toothed tiger. All the while, the boys and girls in the fourth row forget about their popcorn and are hypnotized by the images on the screen. It's hard to believe so many years have passed since the last Sinbad movie held kids spellbound at Saturday matinees. The movies were never perfect, with stories that were sometimes little more than frameworks to drape Ray Harryhausen's special effects over. The performances left a bit to be desired at times, and the direction could be a bit choppy. What they did accomplish, however, was to give countless 8- and 10-year-olds their first taste of the magic that motion pictures were really capable of. Those grade-schoolers, of course, took with them an appreciation of that movie mojo that would extend to films like 2001, Star Wars, and countless other movies in the sci-fi and fantasy genres. Ray Harryhausen was the preeminent special effects wizard in Hollywood for decades. With credits that date back to 1949's King Kong remake Mighty Joe Young, Harryhausen brought his creatures to life with painstaking stop-motion animation, with a realism that no one else's work could touch. Computers now do all the heavy lifting for cinematic special effects, and although the techniques of CGI are often time-consuming and tedious, they can't match the artistry and warmth of a Harryhausen Cyclops or troglodyte creature. Too often it's tempting to see beyond the eyeball-dislodging effects of a CGI dinosaur and picture a technician toiling away in front of a computer. Considering the tedious frame-by-frame repositioning of stop-motion figures, something like the six-armed Kali figure in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad is astonishing in the untold hours of labor that went into giving it life. Even more mind-boggling is the fact that it comes alive with grace and fluidity, without a trace of abruptness or jerkiness. It's always a good time to revisit the Sinbad series, for all its imperfections and flaws. The movies are still tremendously entertaining escapist fare, still capable of inspiring new generations of budding movie buffs to create imaginary worlds with the magic of movies.

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CO05352 Sinbad 3 pack DVD (Golden Voyage of Sinbad, Eye of the Tiger, 7th Voyage of Sinbad) $30.99 $27.99