Reviews

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

3

Lusty, dusty and a little bit rusty...

Prince Of Persia review

Prince Of Persia review - Jake Gyllenhaal climbs the walls as the acrobatic Prince of Persia in this blockbuster adventure based on the hit videogame franchise.

It’s the movie that finally breaks the curse of vidgame-movie adaptations and... Hold on a second, that’s not right. Press the L1 trigger to use the Dagger of Time and unleash the mystical sands. R-E-W-I-N-D...

Paul WS Anderson and Uwe Boll have a new comrade in videogame-movie hell: British director Mike Newell. His leaden-footed adaptation of the award-winning Prince Of Persia videogame franchise proves once again that joysticks and movies don’t... No, that’s not it either. Use the Dagger of Time and R-E-W-I-N-D...

So just what is Jerry Bruckheimer’s latest assault on the summer box office? A mega-budget videogame movie that cleaves close to its source? An old-school sword and sandal epic? Or are we simply talking Pirates Of Persia? Bruckheimer would surely select answer c). What he’s conjured is a Middle Eastern adventure with a dashing hero (Jake Gyllenhaal), a plucky heroine (Gemma Arterton dressed like she’s just escaped from an Arabian Nights-themed pyjama party) and a supporting cast of familiar faces led by the everreliable Ben Kingsley. Even the biggest game-o-phobe wouldn’t be scared off by that pitch.

Forget the fanboy pandering of Doom, Hitman or Silent Hill; this movie wants to reach an audience that thinks an Xbox is something you tick on a ballot paper. Following the same popcorn path as Pirates Of The Caribbean – exotic locales, buckling of swash, a soupçon of the supernatural – it aims to entertain all-comers.

But just like the fleet-footed prince vaulting over a chasm of spikes, missing the next ledge by a fingertip and plunging to his death, the film has a habit of falling flat. And unlike the prince, the filmmakers don’t have a magical dagger they can use to rewind time and retry. That’s not to say Prince Of Persia doesn’t have its moments.

Gyllenhaal is ace as the brash young Dastan, a street urchin adopted by the Persian king, elevated to royalty and then mistakenly accused of terrible betrayal. A dead ringer for the bumptious, free-running videogame character – who let players dash along walls and scale impossible heights – the actor has him to a tee. Beneath the shaggy hair and stubble is a likeable man-child, a playful puppy happier doing pratfalls to entertain his troops than holding his head up high like a true blue blood.

A hero deserves a foil, and he gets it in Arterton’s Tamina, the full-lipped, sharp-tongued princess who asks Dastan to safeguard a mystical dagger that possesses time-shifting powers. Their romance on the run is a highlight, their bickering, brittle banter evoking Han and Leia. Even when squeezed into belly dancer and slave girl outfits, Arterton projects a fiery dignity, her pouting put-downs giving the partnership bite.

What lets Prince Of Persia down, though, is its desperate attempt to cover all bases. The screenplay, penned by three writers and game creator Jordan Mechner himself (he gets a screen story credit), tries so hard not to put a foot wrong, it struggles to get off the first level. The storytelling often follows the US Infantry approach – leave no man behind – even if that means explaining the dagger’s powers several dozen times in case the audience is hard-of-thinking. Privileging exposition over characterisation, the screenplay leaves our prince with few handholds to scale his way into our affections.

Meanwhile Newell, who proved such a safe pair of hands on Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire, seems less assured here. The parkour scenes are no more than passable, while the biggest concession to videogame convention – during a palace siege the camera zooms and picks out points of interest – feels like a half-hearted gesture. And while it refreshes to see a fantasy flick that doesn’t stuff the screen with CG critters, it’s a shame the original game’s sand monsters have been elbowed out by a bunch of black-robed, milky-eyed killer ‘Hassansins’.

Still, Newell keeps the eye busy, the pace fizzing. The film’s comic relief also allows the Four Weddings maker to win back some points. In fact, when Alfred Molina suddenly pops up as “a slightly disreputable entrepreneur” – two parts Arthur Daley to one part Sallah from Raiders Of The Lost Ark – and unleashes a busload of ostriches (don’t ask), you wonder if Bruckheimer and co are about to turn back the clock and rediscover the old Pirates Of The Caribbean magic. Sadly they don’t, leaving a slightly hollow feeling when the game’s over. Rewind the Dagger of Time and replay? Meh.
 

Verdict:

Slick Bruck-buster dynamics anchored by Jake ‘n’ Gemma’s sparring and sex appeal. But the scripting needs to take another leap if they want this Prince to produce some heirs.

Film Details

User Reviews

    • BeckyM84

      May 21st 2010, 17:47

      4

      I saw Prince of Persia this afternoon and really enjoyed it. Not perfect, but I found it a lot of fun which is surely the main thing with summer films of this type.

      Alert a moderator

    • tenstrings

      May 23rd 2010, 8:49

      3

      I decided to go and see this film as it was showing in IMAX and I had a Friday evening to fill. I was slightly apprehensive that I could be facing another Bruckheimer "Pirates..." bloated effort but found myself enjoying PoP for it's old school swashbuckling, fun interplay among the leads and a good all-round popcorn experience. The absence of American accents did no harm either! (well done Jake!)

      Alert a moderator

    • tenstrings

      May 23rd 2010, 8:51

      3

      I decided to go and see this film as it was showing in IMAX and I had a Friday evening to fill. I was slightly apprehensive that I could be facing another Bruckheimer "Pirates..." bloated effort but found myself enjoying PoP for it's old school swashbuckling, fun interplay among the leads and a good all-round popcorn experience. The absence of American accents did no harm either! (well done Jake!)

      Alert a moderator

    • TheDoctor

      May 23rd 2010, 11:07

      5

      Usually films out of Games are big fail but this one is something else...

      Alert a moderator

    • hulk68

      May 25th 2010, 10:53

      4

      I fully agree with the review but also agree with BeckyM84. Why do we go see these kinds of films anyway. Its trus escapism and it did very well in that department. Not perfect but enough fun and lack of enormous CG characters was a relief. It's not pirates 1 but definantely close.

      Alert a moderator

    • sanctusmortis

      Jun 1st 2010, 19:26

      4

      Coming at it as a fan of the series, what a great movie! The costumes are copies of the games, the scenery and setpieces ape some of the bigger ones from the games, and it's actually good! 3/5 is way too harsh, as it zings along nicely with lots of good dollops of action. More to the point, it kept the 4 kids (aged from 4 to 12) I took happy, engrossed and quiet. What more could you want?

      Alert a moderator

    • KateHarris

      Jun 1st 2010, 21:02

      2

      Although I have yet to play the game the film is based on, I found the relaying of the dagger's powers repetitive and tedious. Perhaps I would have liked this movie had I paid less for a ticket and could distract myself from Gyllenhaal's biceps.

      Alert a moderator

    • KATELM76

      Jun 2nd 2010, 11:30

      4

      I wanted to watch this when I first heard about it, then was not too sure after some reviews but when I saw it - LOVED IT! It takes you back to the Indiana Jones films (before Crystal Skull) just an old fashioned action / adventure film. The cast was good with the always excellent Jake Gyllenhaal (good accent!) Can't wait for the sequel!

      Alert a moderator

    • lanny

      Nov 12th 2010, 14:35

      Thank you so much for this great article this was just the thing I needed to read. These kind of post are always inspiring and I prefer to read quality content so I happy to find many good point here in the post, writing is simply great, thank you for the post. coach factory outlet store discount coach handbags coach store coach designer handbags Cheap UGG Boots UGG Classic Boots UGG Boots Sale ugg bailey button on sale coach outlet store online coach handbags on sale I really like this blog coz it provides lots of useful information from different themes.

      Alert a moderator

    • stacie

      Feb 9th 2011, 4:18

      I like this film, cause basically I like colossal film. Is this a true story like 300? This article is has raised some very interesting points. Salute for the writer that has spend much attention for this informative articles. New and valuable information I found in this read. Thank you for your post. Education and Scholarship | Student Education

      Alert a moderator

    • Numberonee

      Mar 2nd 2011, 19:10

      Thank you very nice blog. kelebek sohbet kelebek sohbet cam sohbet cam sohbet sohbet siteleri sohbet siteleri chat siteleri chat siteleri aSq Aşk mesajları Sozler Sözler chat kanalları chat kanalları sohbet cinsel sohbet sohbet cinsel sohbet istanbul sohbet istanbul sohbet almanya sohbet chat yap chat yap film indir kelebek indir kelebek indir sohbet türkçe mirc mirc indir çet sohbet kelebek kelebek sohbet chat chat dul sohbet chat sohbet chat sohbet mynet sohbet sohbet odaları kelebek mirc kelebek indir sohbet siteleri sohbet odaları sohbet odaları çet sohbet çet sohbet chat sayfaları chat sayfaları a href="http://www.asksozleri.org/kelebek-chat" title="kelebek chat" target="_blank">kelebek chat

      Alert a moderator

    • zakmccormack

      Dec 6th 2011, 18:24

      3

      Very much agree with the end of this review. Meh. It's a perfect word to describe what it could have been. A fan of the series of games I wanted this to be good. It does have its moments the scenery and landscape are impressive along with an outstanding cast but this sadly was not good enough, It needed more of an edge. Maybe more imaginative enemies as well. All in all it was ok for what it was and its primary target audience probably found more enjoyable than I did.

      Alert a moderator

Most Popular