Monday, June 07, 2010

‘Prince of Persia…’ Even ‘The Sands of Time’ could not stop this!

‘Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time’ is based on the video game series of the same name. In the video game as in the movie, Prince Dastan (a very pumped up Jake Gyllenhaal) leaps from one adventure to the next, seemingly unafraid of gravity or heat stroke. It is this exhilarating reason that the movie works – assuming you can ignore all sense of reasonable plot or dialogue that is!

The movie opens with the back story of Prince Dastan, not always the best thing to do in a movie based on a video game, but writers Boaz Yakin, Doug Miro & Carlo Bernard (yes – it took three guys to write this film, normally a huge red flag) smartly opt to go with the orphaned thief story ala ‘Aladdin’ and any other number of sword and sand films that have come out in the recent decade. This keeps it simple and allows director Mike Newell (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) to focus on the endless acrobatic action – that is peppered by inane dialogue every now and then.

The film screams ahead to 25 years later or so where a young Prince Dastan is busily defending the kingdom with his two brothers Tus and Garsiv (Richard Coy and Toby Kebbell) on behalf of their father, King Sharaman (Ronald Pickup). Can someone tell me why do all of these movies choose to give the supposed rulers of Middle Eastern countries, English accents? The only real looking character in the entire film is Uncle Nizam played by the very British Ben Kingsley, who looks as if he has overdosed on eye liner to appear even more Persian! Here is where it gets a bit crazy – the boys are convinced to invade a holy city that is suspected of building and selling weapons (really, trying to make a political statement in a Disney movie?), a city that is guarded by the beautiful Princess Tamina (Gemma Areton) who has a magical dagger filled with sand that can turn back time. As it turns out – it is good old Uncle Nizam that is trying to acquire the dagger so that he can become King by turning back time to kill his brother. I have a headache just trying to lay it out here – and so will you if you try to understand it all.

But who really cares? Great stunts – fast and furious action – who needs story or even dialogue? Can someone please tell Alfred Molina, as a wise cracking shyster, to stick with being a bad guy? He is so much better as a villain (remember Doc Ock in Spiderman 2?) than as comic relief. Gemma Areton is very good as the feisty Princess and is a good foil for the blundering Gyllenhaal who should have a better hand on action/adventure films by the sequel.

This is a perfect popcorn film – best enjoyed on the big screen – although try and see it at a matinee or during the discount show times, that way you won’t get as mad at me for telling you to see this 2 ½ star adventure.

A far better Jake Gyllenhaal film and my Redbox rental pick is ‘Brothers’ – a powerful film that dives deep into the darkness that war brings to a family. With Toby Maguire, as the younger brother serving in Afghanistan and the excellent Natalie Portman as Maguire’s wife who become involved Gyllenhaal’s Tommy when she believes her husband to be dead. A powerful, moving 4 star film that was somehow ignored by the Academy; well worth your hard earned $1.00 at your local Redbox!

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