Directed by Mike Newell | Year 2010
Jerry Bruckheimer brings yet another adrenaline-filled action movie to the big screen. Known for the Pirates of the Caribbean series, Bruckheimer has worked together with Mike Newell who directed the fourth Harry Potter movie. Both producer and director have had the skill and ability to make a success story out of this video game-based screen adaptation. With some cliché-ridden scenes, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time stays an amusing start for a potentially new franchise I’d be very much looking forward to.
In the ancient Persian empire (now Iran), an army of thousands of men sets to besiege the city of Alamut assuming it is hiding weapons of mass destruction. An ordinary-looking dagger is believed to be the most dangerous weapon the city has control over. Aftering conquering Alamut, things go downhill rapidly. Ultimately, Persian prince Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal) along with the beautiful princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton) must flee the city as he is wanted for high treason. Luckily enough for the prince and princess, they now own the dagger and its powers.
The difficulty with any video game-based movie is how to give dimensionality to characters. However, the Prince of Persia video game franchise has had a running story since the early days of modern gaming consoles. This allowed for enough time to create life within prince Dastan, the main protagonist, as well as the various antagonists he comes face to face with throughout his journeys. It is interesting to see how Newell gave purpose to Dastan and Tamina by linking the two major characters to the most important theme of the movie, namely time. The dagger, the characters’ motives and even the historical setting are all linked to the theme of the movie. The dagger can turn back time and change the course of history while the characters are constantly confronted with the idea that time is running out.
Consequently, the confrontation between ideas surrounding time brings forth a lot of potential to create gripping action scenes. Jake Gyllenhaal proves to be, on his turn, the ideal candidate in portraying the brawny prince. Part of his acting reminded me of the comic talent of Johnny Depp even though his character is basically similar to the classic Shakespearean prince set on a quest. Part of his pleasing appearance is thanks to Gemma Arterton who plays the lovely princess Tamina in spectacular fashion. Their chemistry is simply brilliant. Ben Kingsley’s performance was the usual best, although I have to admit that I found his character Nizam to be a predictable and weak villain which Kingsley didn’t deserve to play at all.
Tamina: Must feel wonderful winning such a claim for destroying such an innocent city.
Prince Dastan: Oh, a pleasure to meet you too, Princess.
On the other hand, the movie can sometimes feel too cheesy just like the typical sword and sandal action flicks of the 1960s. It most definitely has elements from 1001 Nights and Aladdin. Even though time plays a dominant role, the story sticks to clarity rather than delving into the world of time travel. This is not a sci-fi movie after all. For a fantasy, however, the art department evidently lacked the quality to create a realistic and serious backdrop to all the unbelievable scenes. Overusing special effects led to various shots of ancient cities that rather looked like futuristic cities and made the movie look like a cheap fairy tale.
Exotic locations, spectacular stunts and large-scale special effects: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is a movie reminiscent of its original source material by staying true to the standards of a Disney movie.