The credits, as coruscating as millennial manuscripts and splendidly orchestrated by Bernard Herrmann, promise "Dynamation, the new miracle of the screen," Ray Harryhausen's stable of beasts delivers accordingly. Sinbad (Kerwin Matthews) returns home with the Sultan's daughter (Kathryn Grant) as his bride, and also the wizard Sokurah (Torin Thatcher), who's obsessed with the magic lamp they left behind at Colossa Island. Turning a matronly handmaid into "the most exotic woman in all Baghdad" is the magician's main party trick during the banquet, a vast urn is cracked (cf. Kagemusha) to present a four-armed temptress with blue skin and a serpent's tail, revealing that Harryhausen has seen not just The Thief of Baghdad, but Renoir's The River as well. Sokurah is banished, but gets his revenge by shrinking the Princess to Lilliputian dimensions and trading the antidote for Sinbad's journey ("through uncharted waters, with a doubtful crew") to the island. Two-headed eagle chicks and their angry mommas await the adventurers, but the resident Cyclops remains the trump card -- one-eyed and goat-legged, the behemoth ponders the screaming sailor roasting on the spit and licks its lips lavishly. Like Kong, the Cyclops' propensity for squashing intruders with a tree stump stands side by side with a touching majesty; death comes reluctantly to Harryhausen's creatures, and the monster is given a heartfelt final glimpse, defeated at the bottom of an abyss. Nathan Juran's direction falls short of a Zoltan Korda or George Pal, but the sights keep coming: A stream of blood that turns out to be wine, the sad-eyed boy-genie (Richard Eyer) who cartwheels into a fireball, Mini-Princess amid the lamp's colored smoke, the guardian dragon and the huge crossbow... Truly, this is for anyone who never forgot the first time they saw a skeleton resurrected and given sword and shield. With Alec Mango, Danny Green, and Harold Kasket.
--- Fernando F. Croce