Movie Review: Prince of Persia Sands of Time- Another Average Video Game Adaptation That is Saved from its Unevenness Due to a Strong Supporting Cast

Video game adaptations have never turned out well considering the many failures ranging from a horrid take on Super Mario Brothers to an equally embarrassing attempt based on the game Doom. They simply do not transcend well onto the big screen perhaps due to the detailed story lines that take hours upon hours to come to fruition with honorable mentions with the likes of Metal Gear Solid and the Legend of Zelda. Only one film hasn’t dropped the ball entirely and that was with the adaptation of Tomb Raider, which successfully combined decent action, a good enough storyline, and a worthy charismatic protagonist to follow through the fantastical scenarios. Mike Newell’s take on the latest video game big screen adventure, The Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, has at least two out of three of the previously mentioned criteria for a durable summer blockbuster: a good enough story with some decent action. It certainly leaves behind charisma with its dull protagonist played by a befuddled Jake Gyllenhaal who is luckily aided with an efficient and recognizable supporting cast. Leave it to Jerry Bruckheimer to know how to produce a film that can be efficient and somewhat enjoyable though Prince of Persia never really breaks from the formula, borrowing from the best and staying the same. But that’s exactly what most audiences are looking for this summer and Prince of Persia stumbles but fortunately doesn’t trip and fall flat, which is the fate of many summer blockbusters in recent memory.

Prince of Persia attempts to break the video game curse by introducing a tale that is familiar because of its Shakespearean undertones. Mixing the royalty elements of King Lear and Hamlet, The Prince of Persia has a King whose brother wishes to be in power but in front of him are two sons. Even a third son gets in his way once the King adopts a peasant boy in the streets in a gesture of kindness but is alluded to that destiny was in play. This peasant boy is Dastan, the ripped good looking but overall out of place Jake Gyllenhaal, who becomes a legendary warrior along side his two brothers, Seso and Tus. Eventually Dastan is framed for his father’s death and is forced to flee with the Princess Tamina, who possesses the secret to a dagger that can trigger going back in time for only a select few minutes. One could be quite picky with the details that the gods gave to a pure soul searching for peace a dagger, a weapon, in order to symbolize peace or the fact that the movie only allows going back in time rather than manipulating time but these are just details as to what could have made a decent movie better. Dastan must now unveil his Uncle’s conspiracy as well as his innocence with multiple obstacles along the way, which provides a template for decent action sequences including snakes popping out of the ground and columns being destroyed by rolling sand. Perhaps it was the low expectations of the film but considering just how formulaic the whole thing seems it is saved purely on the basis that its supporting cast was well chosen and that the action didn’t feel too copied.

Without the supporting cast The Prince of Persia would have drastically failed seeing as how Gyllenhaal and the beautiful yet dramatically flat princess Gemma Arterton seem to be out of place in this fantasy world. The film really is saved by British actors, notably Ben Kingsley who plays the villainous Uncle rather well despite the limitations of the script. Kingsley is fascinating considering the range of characters he has played from Gandhi in Richard Attenborough’s bio-picture to the sociopathic Don Logan in Sexy Beast. We all know he can be a great villain and despite not having an epic villain role he uses the screen time well. Some more British actors, Toby Kebbell and Richard Coyle, play Gyllenhaal’s brothers effectively and considerably trump Gyllenhaal’s lack of fortitude and believability on the screen in every scene. But really the film is saved solely on the presence of Alfred Molina. The irony of Molina being in a film that basically borrows scenes and steals plot points from the Indiana Jones trilogy is beyond any of us, but his comedic delivery and uniqueness can be felt and missed with every passing scene. Molina certainly makes you appreciate and recognize the essential strength character actors bring to film and that star power isn’t everything, especially when the star is the one lacking charisma. Sure everyone can make remarks as to how non-Persian the entire cast might be, a fact that could be linked to some of its less than successful attributes, the film’s plot wouldn’t have been aided by this easy remedy. The supporting cast makes the experience enjoyable while the story attempts to make plausible realities from a complex video game structure. All in all the stories plot could have been better even with the structural and time limitations.

The idea behind the reversal of time in Prince of Persia is one that isn’t uncommon to the video game or film world. Take for example the German film Run, Lola, Run which introduced the idea of video game lives into a seemingly normal existence, where the protagonist Lola can manipulate and change the course of her actions based on previous knowledge from the last time the level was played. In video games there are multiple chances at repeating the same actions learning more and more about levels each time you attempt them. In Mike Newell’s Prince of Persia, the protagonist possesses this power if he merely presses the button on the dagger, learning from the follies of his actions and the placements of his enemies. While this could be a stunning display of constant action it is unfortunately used not as often as audiences might be yearning for. This brings back the point that the manipulation of time, something that the video games possess, would have made for better action scenarios. But unfortunately films need to immensely shorten detailed video game scenarios into only two hours, leaving behind complexity and originality for the sake of efficiency. They never get into detail of the actual religion being played out here, which is heavily influenced by Zoroastrianism. There are definite sacrifices made here for the sake of turning a long and detailed video game into a silver screen blockbuster, the same unfortunate sacrifices that were made to the adaptation of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. But suffice it to say the Jerry Bruckheimer produced popcorn movie will please most audiences looking for a summer action escape if not the video game nerds expecting adaptation purity.

For those who are expecting a summer blockbuster disaster than you might be pleasantly surprised with the results Prince of Persia has to offer. It’s not a completely original tale but the films pacing makes sure it flows well and engages the audience in displays of well thought out action and typical CGI. The real strength is the supporting cast, which keeps the two main screen characters from sinking the film into a flat and mediocre production. This is no piece of art and it isn’t the best of quality cinematic entertainment but Bruckheimer knows how to put the essential pieces of a decent production into place, and director Mike Newell transcends the dramatic comedies he is known for and delivers a solid action film that most people might enjoy.

Grade: C+

2 Responses to “Movie Review: Prince of Persia Sands of Time- Another Average Video Game Adaptation That is Saved from its Unevenness Due to a Strong Supporting Cast”
  1. Bizhaku says:

    nice review bro hihihi nyam 😀

  2. some really fantastic posts on this web site , regards for contribution.

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