Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

2010-06-15 09:17
 
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

What it's about:

Prince Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal), the adopted son of the king of Persian Empire, leads his father's troops to victory over the scared city of Alamut, believing that they are supplying Persia's enemies with weapons. Dastan is forced to flee when victory celebrations take a tragic turn and he is followed by Alamut's Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton) who is in custody of the "The Dagger of Time", a weapon that begins to show its worth as Dastan's power-hungry uncle, Nizam (Ben Kinglsey) threatens the empire.

What we thought:

Before we get into the more detailed stuff about Prince of Persia, the latest Disney period adventure from über-producer Jerry Bruckheimer, let us first focus on the amazing transformation of Jake Gyllenhaal from cute, Hollywood It-Boy to buff, blockbuster action man in no time at all. If you're used to seeing him flash those baby blues as a lovelorn young man in Brokeback Mountain or Bubble Boy, or the angst-ridden version thereof in Rendition or last year's Brothers, you'll no doubt be in for a surprise as a much-muscled Gyllenhaal, as the titular prince, dominates the screen through sheer size.

That new physique comes in very handy as our hero sets off on his very arduous journey to ensure the Dagger of Time does not fall into the wrong hands and set off an apocalyptic sandstorm. There's more to the story, way more, but for a Disney family epic, it does lay the plot details on a bit thick. The relentless pace and barrage of action sequences makes up for all the blah, blah, blah about destiny, ancient temples and the mysterious sands of time – but only just.

When the actors aren’t spending their time explaining the next leg of their adventure, rather than just getting on with it, the movie is quite fun. Dastan is a formidable warrior whose parkour-like abilities herald some exciting rooftop chases and fight sequences. It probably doesn’t matter that the CGI just about dominates the movie – it seems par for the course for a movie based on a video game. Gyllenhaal and former Bond girl Gemma Arterton, like much of the cast, are sun-kissed and glowing and make a striking pair. Arterton's Princess Tamina is just the right blend of brainy and brassy to keep Dastan on his toes and their foreplay-through-bickering will raise a few snickers, rather than belly laughs. Alfred Molina gets to flex his comic chops as a greasy hoodlum who runs ostrich races, and Kingsley is, well, Kingley-esque as Dastan's nefarious nemesis.

Much will be probably be made of the wayward British accents being employed to smooth things over for an audience who've likely never heard of Persia before. It's a detail that can be grating, if you're into that sort of thing. There's much swashbuckling among the dunes, but the movie never quite reaches the epic scale it promises. It's all rather innocuous and half-hearted. This is a great cast deserving of a more worthwhile excursion for their talents.

It's clear where Bruckheimer wants to see his new franchise take flight – on the lunchboxes, pillow cases and backpacks of the world's young ankle-biters, and with a proposed seven films in the series, he has his eye set on the Harry Potter-shaped void due from 2011. The thought of a second and third movie actually wears me down a bit. Even The Pirates of the Caribbean, the other Disney franchise that Prince of Persia has been fashioned after, failed to recapture the magic of its first film in the resultant sequels. Surely Gyllenhaal and Arterton, a rising star in her own right, will have far more intriguing film pursuits to fill their time?


Jerry Bruckheimer brings his blockbuster-making machine to the ancient dunes of Persia in this innocuous, mildly enjoyable, Disney adventure.

King of Persia 2010/05/21 4:17 PM
Strangely enough, none of the main characters in this movie look anything like the descendants of the Persian Empire, add to that their pasty English Accents...
Kelley 2010/05/22 10:37 AM
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I saw this last night and enjoyed it. I can't believe how buff Jake got for the role. Sure you had to suspend your believe about some things. There were a few snore moments. I liked watching the building climbing stuff the best. Not sure if Jake actually did that or if its all CGI, but I thought it was good.
Nick de Bruyne 2010/05/26 5:52 AM
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I watched this movie last Friday and I thought that it was really great. The best compliment I could give it was that you don't think about the fact that it is based on a videogame while watching it. The movie was as good as, if not better than many of the other summer blockbusters that Hollywood belches out every year. Not perfect, but a lot of fun.
Kim 2010/06/02 12:26 PM
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Enjoyed it - not the best movie ever but a good evenings entertainment - and lets face it ladies - jake has never looked hotter
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