June 9, 2010

Prince of Persia - The Sands of Time

princeofpersia2_largeI'm sorry, you've caught me at a bad time. You see, I am only now sitting down to write about the Prince of Persia  film. It has been nearly two weeks since I attended that midnight screening and the time in between has robbed me of many details leaving me merely with some recollections, perceptions, and delusions of reality. This being he absolute truth leaves me with the reality of writing a review that I probably should not be. Anyway, I am soldiering on and recalling the best I can to write a review of a movie I cannot say I particularly care for.

I never really paid much attention to the game series, although I do recall spending some time with the original game way back in 1989 when I was still a teen. So, as I approached this release it was as a movie fan and not a game aficionado. Sure, I enjoy to play games once in awhile but it is usually pretty long in between sessions (although things have picked up a bit with the addition of a PS3 to my entertainment system).

Now, it is notoriously difficult to translate video games into movies. The playable characters are generally stereotypes, bland, or something other than well rounded individuals. This allows the player to inject some of their own personalities into the game, help complete the interactive experience. When these characters are translated to the big screen, you cannot exactly do that when writing a fully plotted film.


Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time forgets to inject character into the lead and a well developed plot into the story. I am sorry, but this movie has very little character to relate to and a story that is too thin to get involved with. Frankly, I was bored.

The movie tells the story of Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal), an orphan boy who catches the eye of the King. He is adopted and raised alongside the King's other sons. Fast forward to Dastan as a young man and part of the Persian army. This is where the story truly begins.

While on the march the Persian's invade a city they are not supposed to based on the belief they are selling weapons to the enemy. This invasion, based on what turns out to be faulty intelligence (hmmm, could they be trying to draw parallels to what is happening in the real world? Is this right place for it? Who's to say), leads to Dastan coming into the possession of a mystical dagger with a hilt filled with sand. It doesn't take long for Dastan to discover that pressing the end of the hilt turns back time. It is a fact that Dastan is sure to explain very clearly right after we have seen it. You know, "in case you missed it, let me explain it to you."

In any case, the good hearted Dastan finds himself the target of those who want the dagger while also witnessing a conspiracy unfolding that sees his uncle, Nazim (Ben Kingsley), seeking the throne. That is about all you need to know about the story. No time is ever taken to develop the story, although it does occasionally slow down to explain bits and pieces here and there. Do not confuse this for depth or story, it is merely the exposition required to link one action bit with the next.


Simply put, I was bored as Dastan, along with Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton), run from one action bit to the next. Yes, the action was slickly executed and generally looks good, but without anything to care about I couldn't care less. The film feels a bit like another Jerry Bruckheimer production. Pirates of the Caribbean. However, there is a big difference here, the life, humor, and water have been drained out.

All right, I guess it isn't quite as bad as I am making it seem, but in addition to the fading details my dislike seems to have been given to rise. It is a perfectly watchable action/adventure, just don't expect a lot out of it aside from the slick action and Hollywood sheen that it has been given.

Jake Gyllenhaal is not particularly captivating as the action hero. He lacks the charisma required for the role. I think the man is a good actor, he just isn't an action guy, at least not yet. On the other hand I do like Gemma Arterton as Tamina, she has good screen presence and seems to have some talent. It will be interesting to see her get other roles as this did not feel appreciably different from her role in Clash of the Titans. Then there is Alfred Molina who does provide a bit of humor with his ostrich races, we could have used some more of him.

Bottomline. In the end, this had potential, but it never really goes anywhere. So, the best I can say is go ahead, check it out, just do not expect anything other than a surface experience. Do not give the story much thought, your just going to disappoint yourself.

Not Recommended.



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