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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Sinbad is a modernized retelling of a Middle Eastern fairy tale about a sailor in a magical land. Viewers can expect to see a lot of cartoonish violence, including bare-knuckle brawling, stabbings, and giant monsters that arise from the sea and kill sailors. Dead bodies are visible but not gory, and blood is at a minimum. There are also references to violent ways of punishing criminals, such as severing hands. Characters we have grown to like are killed onscreen and viewers then see grieving family members. There are also (CGI) monsters that may terrify younger viewers. Language is mostly clean and one character also smokes a pipe. The main character Sinbad is presented as a hero yet is not above lying and stealing. The cast boasts stellar racial and ethnic diversity, with people of color in almost every major role and women, including women of color, holding down major parts.
What's the story?
SINBAD, the legendary Middle Eastern sailor immortalized in many a film adaptation, lives again in a somewhat-modernized version of the tale. After a street fight goes wrong, the hapless street urchin and thief Sinbad (Elliot Knight) finds to his horror that he's killed a royal prince, whose vengeful father (Naveen Andrews) murders Sinbad's only brother and vows Sinbad is next. Meanwhile, Sinbad's heartbroken grandmother places a curse on her grandson: He must wander the world by sea, unable to spend more than one day and night on the land or the magical talisman he must wear around his neck will choke him to death. Now he sails to fantastic adventures and meets out-of-this-world monsters on the vessel Providence, alongside a seasick doctor, a mysterious African ruler, a runaway thief, an imposing Northman sailor, and a hulking cook.
Is it any good?
Any parent who was fascinated by the magical monsters created by special effects guru Ray Harryhausen back in the 1970s Sinbad films is no doubt eager to see if this version measures up, with an eye towards introducing kids to the Sinbad legends. And in the special effects arena, Sinbad doesn't even come close to the weird majesty of Harryhausen's creatures. These are CGI monsters, cheap ones at that, and modern kids used to yawning at computer effects onscreen won't be very frightened, or compelled by these monsters.
Nonetheless, this Sinbad is worthy for many other reasons, chiefly its appealing cast, which boasts many people of color and powerful women. This is a big change from the 1970s films, in which white actors were made up to look Middle Eastern, and women were just a place to hang a sexy costume and a navel jewel. Also choice: Sinbad doesn't try to modernize the mystical, traditional adventures its titular sailor embarks on. There are magical eggs, time travel, deadly curses, potions, giant birds that do the bidding of a sorceress. It all adds up to lusty, rollicking fun, ideal for whole-family viewing.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether Sinbad is a hero or a villain. How do his actions differ from those of the "bad guys" onscreen? Does his motivation or his intentions excuse his misdeeds?
Watch another Sinbad movie, such as 1970s epic The Golden Voyage of Sinbad. How is the most recent Sinbad retelling like this other version? How is it different? Are characters more or less realistic? What about the costume and settings?
The Sinbad legends are Persian/Middle Eastern in origin. Knowing that, what do you think Sinbad's ethnicity is supposed to be in Sinbad? Where is he from? Does his English accent detract from the idea that he's a Middle Eastern hero?
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