I don’t know. I just don’t know…. I’m not sure if I really liked Prince of Persia or not. I’m not one of these critics who have an irrational hatred for all things Jerry Bruckheimer, I actually love most of his movies (except the Transformer series) and recently watched Armageddon again on Blu-ray and still love that movie – it makes me cry every time, yeah I’m a Sap. So back to Prince of Persia, I honestly don’t know if I liked it or not. I will say it’s the best video game movie – ever, but that’s damning the movie with faint praise.
At less than 100 minutes long, I got progressively more tired of it as it went. The movie’s trailer put me off with the endless explanation of the how the Sands of Time dagger worked. In a video game it’s a cool little gimmick, but as the glue for a summer block buster movie it simply doesn’t work. First the dagger only turns back time for a few minutes so you really never get a sense of what the point is – until the big plot reveals itself in the last part of the movie. The power of the dagger isn’t visualized well at all, it’s a bit clunky and confusing as we watch Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal) get ripped out of his body and thrown back a few minutes into the past. Luckily they only used the dagger a couple of times so it doesn’t really impact the movie.
The character of the Prince felt right. The video game really isn’t all that deep with story, what it is a character that lets you run around and do impossible jumps, some cool stuff with a sword and knife, sometimes sneak around, etc. the movie gets this aspect of the character just about right using a weird mix of CGI (which is very noticeable) and live shots of Jake doing the actual stunts. None of it is jaw dropping cool, but it put a smile on my face watching Jake run and leap across buildings just like in the game.
I’ve always been the biggest Gyllenhaal hater and never saw the appeal. My opinion of him changed after I met him at WonderCon a few months ago, he’s really likable and down to earth in person and that personality comes across well here. He does have charm and charisma. Writers Boaz Yakin (screenplay) and Doug Miro (screenplay) & Carlo Bernard (screenplay) did a decent job of giving the Prince a nice backstory and reason why he’s Prince. Is it believable that a Persian King would pick some orphan out of the streets and make him his son for no apparent reason? No. Would the King’s blood Sons welcome this Urchin into their family without putting up a fight or feeling jealous? Again, no.
Director Mike Newell doesn’t have much of a vision. There’s nothing here that made me feel like I was watching a $200 million summer blockbuster. Instead of showing us action and letting the audience figure things out for ourselves, he stops the movie to explain every major plot point had in long monologues.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is a movie that is perfectly acceptable, but there’s nothing there that made me think I was watching an epic. It’s a good home rental or matinee type of movie and an ok time waster.
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Final Grade C
EM Review by
Originally posted 5.28.2010