“The Prince of Persia” is a popular video game series that started in 1989. It was spawned as a basic 2D game and has gone through many improvements in graphics and different storylines since then — 14 to date actually. So it was inevitable that this fan-favorite would be brought to the big screen. This was done with the help of Walt Disney Pictures, director Mike Newell (“Four Weddings and a Funeral,” “Pushing Tin,” “Mona Lisa Smile”) and producer Jerry Bruckheimer (the force behind such films as “Armageddon,” “Pearl Harbor,” “National Treasure” and the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies).
The setting of “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” is a real version of ancient Persia brought to life, and it’s all about swords, horses, sand, majestic cities and the Royal Persian family. The catalyst for this movie is a dagger that can unleash the mystic sands that turn back time — and only the person holding the dagger is aware of the alternate events. In the wrong hands, it could bring a change to the order of the world and possibly even bring about the Earth’s destruction.
Jake Gyllenhaal plays Dastan, a buffed up acrobatic warrior. His luck in a marketplace at the age of 10 leads him to be adopted by the kind and wise King Sharaman (Ronald Pickup) and raised with two princes, Tus (Richard Coyle) and Garsiv (Toby Kebbell). Guided by the king’s conniving brother, Nizam (Ben Kingsley), they attack a peaceful sacred city called Alamut, where it is believed there are hidden weapons preparing to be sold to enemies of Persia. Needless to say, there are no weapons there and it was all just a ploy to get at the sacred dagger.
The princess of Alamut, Tamina (Gemma Arterton), is the priestess in charge of keeping the dagger safe. She is captured and offered as a gift to the king, and when things go astray, Dastan and Tamina go on the run — which then catapults us into the main part of the story.
I am told by a friend who also attended the screening that this movie follows the game very closely and he even said that a few of the scenes were directly out of the game. This movie is full of the big scenery pieces and epic battles you have come to expect from Bruckheimer, but the majority of the large action sequences are a barrage of computer generated images — which tends to pull me out of a story. The action and pace of the movie are good — pretty much spread evenly throughout the film — but at two hours the movie is a bit longer than necessary. This film is made by Disney and therefore was toned way down to be more family friendly; the violence is mild for an action film (you never see any blood, even though the primary weapon is a sword) and although it is good at times, the slow motion effect is overused in almost every action sequence. It seemed like they were going for the “Matrix Effect” at times.
The acting and stunt work in this film were great and I think Gyllenhaal pulls off the accent quite well, but one of the things I found a bit odd was that everyone in the film had English accents, and the film takes place in the Middle East. Arterton is a great leading lady whose exotic looks capture your attention throughout the film and is completely believable as the princess. There is also a great ensemble of secondary characters: Alfred Molina plays a tax-evading leader of illegal ostrich racers, and Daud Shah is great as Dastan’s best friend and brother in arms.
This movie can be enjoyed by all, but it is definitely aimed at younger kids and families. While I enjoyed the grand scope of the massive sets and the different lands this film takes you to, overall I was disappointed in the lack of “shock and awe” factor of this movie. It was a fun movie to watch, but it was missing that “It” factor for me. While I can’t completely recommend this film to those looking for a grand adventure, I can say that it’s not a bad time at the movies.
. . .
Follow Adam Poynter on Twitter at http://twitter.com/CCWGGuy.