Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Alfred Molina and Ben Kingsley
Directed by Mike Newell (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action
Appropriate for ages 10+
Based on the best-selling video game, Prince follows the story of a young boy from the streets of Persia who is adopted by the king. Years later, and upon sacking the Holy City of Alamut, the young prince discovers a dagger with the power to reverse time. During the course of the movie he must keep the dagger away from those that would attempt to do evil with it.
Ever since the mad success of Pirates of the Caribbean, Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer have been looking for a way to recapture that money-making magic with a new franchise and Prince of Persia seemed like the perfect vehicle. After all, the game was hugely successful and as long as they got a big star in the title role and spent a ton on special effects, the results should be pure gold.
As far as the basic elements for success, they are all there. Jake Gyllenhaal makes for a great lead due to his obvious good looks and charisma. Ben Kingsley can always play the perfect villain and this film is no different. Gemma Arterton is beautiful and not too annoying, although she comes close. I will admit that the leads are a bit too pretty throughout the film though, but I guess it is the movies. As far as Alfred Molina is concerned, he is funny at times, but his Sheik Amar is not really a great character. What this film needed to propel itself into Pirates of the Caribbean territory is a Johnny Depp-like co-lead thrown in and Molina is certainly not it. In fact, none of the characters are really big or over-the-top enough for a film such as this which really hurts it’s chances of being more than just a simple summer popcorn flick.
What Bruckheimer brings to the table is a world-class production and while the characters aren’t that big, the film certainly is. The filmmaking is done on a grand scale with huge battle sequences, great stunt work and nifty special effects. I will admit, though, that the climactic sequence, which I’m assuming took up a major part of the effects budget, was so confusing to watch that I’m still not sure what I was seeing. Maybe they thought if they just popped a lot of great images on screen, the audience won’t ask questions, but to create an Escher painting out of sand is confounding and should have been better thought out and much better directed.
Still, the film is for the most part entertaining and you can tell they tried really, really hard to give you your money’s worth. B-