By Dirk Sonniksen | May 28, 2010
Director: Mike Newell
Writer(s): Boaz Yakin (screenplay), Doug Miro (screenplay), Carlo Bernard (screenplay)
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley, Alfred Molina
What do you get when you cross all of the Indiana Jones films, all of the Pirates of the Caribbean films, all other films that vaguely resemble the aforementioned films, with a set that looks like a Las Vegas theme ride? You guys are quick! Indeed, it’s Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, a movie that feels like you’re watching a video game, because, well, it is based on the 2003 video game of the same name.
Prince of Persia refers to Prince Dastan, a guy that catches the luckiest break ever and goes from young street trash (William Foster plays young Dastan) to royalty in the blink of an eye. Dastan (now played by Jake Gyllenhaal) grows up to be hunky as hell, is really white for a Persian guy, and, like the rest of the cast, has an English accent, an odd characteristic for folks in the Middle East. These gaping irregularities aside, Dastan and his two brothers are off to conquer great cities and claim them in the name of Persia (or England…or whatever).
But Jake and his bros get more than they bargained for when they attack a holy city instead of the king’s intended target. Enter Tamina (Gemma Arterton), the freakishly hot leader of this holy city, with an attitude to go with her freaky hotness. Tamina is hiding the most precious thing ever, a really special dagger that Dastan has conveniently managed to procure. Indeed, one wonders how on earth such a precious item could be lost, found, dropped, lost again, and really poorly hidden so many times in one movie—but I digress. Needless to say, nothing will be right in this crazy world of Persian-Englishmen until the knife is safe, and as you could have guessed, many will perish to protect it!
Prince of Persia is, for the most part, a train wreck, complete with a horrible script, talented actors reciting horrible lines from said script, and CGI that is of pretty poor quality considering the options available for a film of this magnitude. Dastan and Tamina play the old “I hate you, no, I love you, no, I hate you…Ok, I actually love you” game that has already been played out in so many other films. Couple that with stuff constantly being blown up, knocked over, and set on fire, and you’ve got a perfect platform for…you guessed it, Jake Gyllenhaal to do a lot of really ridiculous stunts, complete with slow motion and canned expressions.
It’s unfortunate that talent like Jake Gyllenhaal (yeah, he’s talented), Gemma Arterton (loved her in Quantum of Solace), Ben Kingsley (love/hate relationship), and Alfred Molina (solid actor all around) would be wasted on dribble like Prince of Persia, but hey, someone took home a new pair of shoes for this epic disaster, so forget about it. Overall, the most promising performance was Alfred Molina, who managed to inject some humor into the film as Sheik Amar, the wacky leader of some scary village whose name escapes me…it really doesn’t matter. Gísli Örn Garðarsson gets a nod as well, for not only playing the very convincingly evil Hassansin leader bent on destroying Dastan, but also for having a name that is harder to spell than Gyllenhaal (sorry Jake, you’ve been bested).
So, what besides Molina (and Garðarsson) is good about Prince of Persia? While the guilt wells up inside me, I must say I was kept fairly entertained by the near non-stop action that is the only real reason to go see this film. Prince of Persia is certainly going to appeal to gamers and anyone who likes action flicks with incredibly predictable plots, a leading lady you’d really like to see nude, and a leading guy that your date will probably want to see nude. Other than that, there’s not a lot here for those who like meat in their dialogue, a little character development, or any kind of cohesive spark that might save Prince of Persia from being just another bland, unoriginal action flick.