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When I was a kid, I regarded this version as in about the same league
as The Sinbad Trilogy, with its exquisite Arabian locales and flashy
costumes. Roddy McDowall and Kabir Bedi have good buddy-chemistry with
Bedi as an expatriate Prince and McDowell as his comedic thief
Although sometimes silly in terms of special effects and production
values, this is a story genuinely well-told. I'd not call it a classic,
but it is a great deal better than most other TV movies you'll run
into. Just look at the cast with lots of great roles by those you
wouldn't expect, with Ian Holm, Peter Ustinov, and Terence Stamp in
unforgettable roles. Stamp especially channels the same intensity in
his Zod role as the emotionless and seemingly indestructible villain.
Ustinov plays campily as the comic relief (an honor he shares with
Roddy) Kalif of Baghdad, and Marina Vlady is at her stunning best and
outshines the bland love-interest princess in every scene. Even future
Star Trek babe Marina Sirtis (Councellor Troi) has her debut here as a
busty harem girl with maybe 1 or 2 short lines.
Perhaps the best aspect besides the wonderfully addictive orchestral
musical score, has to be the weird and trippy atmosphere inside the
evil cave that Prince Taj has to explore to find the diamond. This
whole sequence is definitely the strongest point of the film and is one
of the best scare-sequences I've seen. Lots of creepy blue lighting,
evil whispering sounds, hallucinations, etc. VERY 70's! This, coupled
with the extremely weird-looking giant green genie, make this a movie
that you just can't miss if you're into escapist fantasy.
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