This week, Jake Gyllenhall and Gemma Arterton take to the big screens in the big-budget Jerry Bruckheimer-produced Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, based on the best-selling game of the same name. Perhaps the biggest obstacle that our heroes face isn’t the villains of the film, but rather Sex and City 2, also opening this weekend and sure to provide lofty competition.
But is Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time worth the trek out to the theater? Video game movies have had a wildly uneven history, with most falling on the side of pure drivel. However, with a powerhouse like Jerry Bruckheimer trying to create a new franchise along the lines of Pirates of the Caribbean, and talented director Mike Newell at the helm, surely it’s worth the price of admission, right?
Check out my full review after the jump!
In Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Dastan, a young thief who’s adopted by the King of Persia, is framed for the murder of the King. Together with a Princess of a neighboring kingdom, they’re on the run, their only advantage a special dagger that, when filled with special sand from the Hourglass of Time, gives the bearer the ability to turn back time up to a minute. As they try to discover who framed Dastan, and return the dagger to a place in which it can’t hurt anybody, Dastan and Tamina have to deal with the forces of the Persian army, a rogue band of thieves and hustlers, and Hassansins, assassins with supernatural ability hired for their special skills.
With a script featuring input from Prince of Persia video game creator Jordan Mechner, the Prince of Persia film actually takes huge chunks of story from all of the Prince of Persia games, as well as touches upon story threads fr0m Assassin’s Creed, another video game franchise from the makers of PoP. Unfortunately, the biggest flaw of Sands of Time is in fact its story, which is mired in cliche and predictability. That’s not to say it’s bad – just know that you’re not seeing this film for its story. And really, who sees a Bruckheimer film for the story anyway?
The acting of Prince of Persia is solid all around. Jake Gyllenhaal fakes a British accent, but at no point does it feel forced, which is a rare feat nowadays in faked accents. While I’ve seen him the lead in films before, it’s never been in a film like this, and he does a solid job of portraying the swashbuckling lead. It doesn’t hurt that his charisma with co-star Gemma Arterton is great – the two play off of each other well, and the relationship seems like a natural progression, unlike so many forced romances we’ve seen in similar films. Co-stars Ben Kingsley and Alfred Molina turn in solid performances, thankfully. Sometimes I find that Kingsley can tend to go a bit over-the-top in his performances, but he pulls it in in this flick and does a good job. Molina plays the “Sallah” of the film – the loud, brash kinda-friend to the main hero, and is fun in every scene he’s in.
The direction my Nike Newell is well done – while green-screen seems to have not progressed very far in the last twenty years (seriously, it’s almost ALWAYS glaringly obvious), the CG in the film is well done and never took me out of the story. The action is where the film shines though, with great parkour-inspired sequences and sword play. While I have to admit that parkour is all the rage nowadays and is quickly wearing out its welcome, it makes sense in this film because of it’s game inspiration, which featured similar stunts. We get great game-inspired set-pieces and stunts, with minimal obvious wire work.
Overall, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is a fun film, if not a great one. Because you see the ending coming a mile away, the suspense of the film isn’t really there. The film does tend to drag a bit, but it’s never boring, and it’s certainly worth seeing on the big screen. I’d be game (heh) if this turned into a franchise, and this is definitely a strong start. So, ya know, while your lady is out seeing Sarah Jessica Parker play in the sand, maybe you should check out Gemma Arterton – guarantee she’s easier on the eyes!