Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Review

June 4, 2010 at 10:27 pm (Weapons of Mass Enjoyment)

Let’s be honest: Prince of Persia has some pretty big shoes to fill considering what it aspires to be: a decent video game film in a sea of hilariously bad misfires. Once Alfred Molina, Jake Gyllenhal, the gorgeous Gemma Arterton, and legendary action film director Jerry Bruckheimer you’ve got the recipe for what could be a great leap in the right direction. Fortunately, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is exactly that. The film greatly succeeds in being a great step forward in the world of video game cinema, however at times as an action film it’s less of a leap forward and more of a shuffle. The story takes a simple rags to riches tale following Dastan (our prince) who is adopted into a royal family after proving his loyalty to the king as a child, and later becomes involved in a voyage of supernatural and hierarchical intrigue when he comes across the beautiful Gemma Arterton and her country’s mystical weapon, the dagger that contains the sands of time, able to rewind set amounts of time. Much like the Pirates film series also by Bruckheimer, the movie moves at a super quick pace, trying to get you as the audience from plot point to plot point to plot point, and while that keeps you always on the edge of your seat not knowing what’s about to happen, just like the Pirates films your brain can be so focused on what Bruckheimer’s dazzling you with on screen with explosions or the drop dead gorgeous Arterton that you don’t notice his quick slight of hand right under your nose when it comes to crucial plot elements. We spend scene after scene on gorgeous action, and quick precious seconds on dialogue that opens up the next crucial plot point. Sure it’s a tad bit uninspired in the way that it tosses you characters and motivations and relate-able exposition, but before you know it you come to realize yet again why you love Bruckheimer’s films-the drop dead gorgeous (not just Arterton) action. Much like the really impressive windmill sword fight from Pirates of the Caribbean or the final climax chase of National Treasure, there are many great shots they get on the action. Much like the game, the prince makes his way through Persia using wall-running or Parkour-style techniques, and all of the stunts transition beautifully to the big screen just as they should. All of the sword fights, much like in the Pirates series keep you guessing throughout as to what’s about to happen, and the crew well-utilize slow motion to emphasis certain changing moments on the battlefield or just to remind you that what Bruckheimer is about to do is really really awesome. Another thing the crew went above and beyond on to incorporate the massive $200 million budget was the film’s beautiful look. Hate to keep referencing it, but not since Dead Man’s Chest’s gorgeous canopies have I felt so in tune with a film’s environments and landscapes. It’s almost like Travel Channel pornography the way they get some of these great looking cities, crowded street ways, and wide open deserts to look so good during the quick moments we see them at times, so much so that if you blink you just might miss it. The special effects in the film as always are top notch, as with the property you’re going to have to be really reliant on huge landscapes and enormous scales, and the special effects really help accomplish that especially towards the latter act. All of the sands of time effects couldn’t have been done better, but also as a complaint we really don’t get to see that effect enough. For some that was relied on so heavily in the games, aside from the final conflict we really don’t see it enough aside from 3-5 times. All in all, the film looks and breathes great in terms of action, no surprise there. Possibly the film’s greatest double edged sword lies in the film’s performers. Alfred Molina does some great work in what lines he’s given and gives a pretty hilarious role, and Ben Kingsley (who was a master of his craft in February’s Shutter Island) does a substantial job as a sort of shady villain.  Gemma Arterton, while catching flack from many for her one-note performance, is just so gorgeous and naturally beautiful in this movie it’s impossible for me to complain, she does a great job with what she has. Jake Gyllenhal, while certain not Middle Eastern and once again proving if you speak English outside of America you have to tone in a British Cockney accent, really does good with what he has and goes beyond the call of duty by really looking the part when it came to his own action stunts. On the negative side, some of the supporting characters are a little dry at times, sorta like the Pirates series, just reading their lines and cashing the checks for their cockney accents, and a few times although Arterton’s beautiful her dry tone could be a little annoying. One other small thing that did bother me a bit in the film came at the very end of the film. I won’t spoil anything, but it can be really off-putting to a lot of people including myself, but it’s generally acceptable if you play it through in your mind a few times. (It also seems odd Ben Kingsley’s only two films this year involve twist endings.) All in all, maybe Prince of Persia’s greatest flaw is that it just isn’t that memorable. Sure we have our sword fights, our beautiful effects, our fun and all, but a decade from now I’ll be able to quote more Pirates of the Caribbean lines to you than a line from this film. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy this film, quite the contrary, I really liked this movie. It gladdens me that this movie isn’t another misfire in the video game to film series, and in fact I am truly grateful that Prince of Persia never forgets to be a awesomely fun time at the cinema, having it’s flaws, yet providing that sense of adventure those like Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill did long ago that keep us coming back again and again.

8 out of 10

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1 Comment

  1. The James said,

    can’t wait to rent this one!

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