Prince of Persia sinks in the 'sands of time'
"Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" follows the adventures of the swashbuckling, super agile, commoner-turned-prince: Dastan played by Jake Gyllenhaal, who takes the lead and, contrary to pre-release critical speculation, does not disappoint. The same, however, cannot be said for the movie.
After King Sharaman of Persia adopts the young, homeless Dastan, the prince grows up amongst the royal court and promptly earns a reputation as a formidable and brave warrior.
Dastan eventually encounters the beautiful Princess Tamina, played by the lovely and electric Gemma Arterton, who starred in this summer's preceding "Clash of the Titans."
Tamina and Dastan must team up to thwart an evil scheme of obtaining a magical dagger of immense power. If they fail, the possessor will control time itself, unleashing an apocalyptic sandstorm that will wipe civilization off the face of the earth.
The supporting cast aids the tempo, though the film never really finds a heartbeat to carry itself on its own. A notable performance was the much-needed comical relief of Alfred Molina manifested by way of Shiek Amar – a rumored cutthroat bandit and esteemed ostrich racer. Making fun of a role with dialogue that would have been awfully boring if made stern, his character is able to transcend a mediocre script in a stand-up comedian-like fashion.
Content-wise, this film is loosely based on a string of successful videogames. The titles originally featured a nameless hero who scoured the deserts and palaces of a mystical Persia. For a 1989 side-scrolling videogame, that is a great premise. However, for a two-hour motion picture marketed as a summer blockbuster: not so much.
Those moments – scaling walls with arrows, hopping from rooftop to rooftop – are not enough to build a movie. The picture is more fun than dangerous, and more boring than fun. The narrative welcomes an unsuspecting audience to wander, lost in the sands of a G-rated love with mild action to boot. Your only hope is that time will rejuvenate the arid screen story. Your only guarantee: time will end it… eventually.
Visually, this movie left a mixed impression. At times it seemed as if a lot of production value was present. Then, abruptly and most namely during the first act, the quality dips into the threshold of cheap.
For example, the opening battle sequence has a rushed feel, with a combination of sets and cartoonish, green-screened backgrounds that do not mesh well. The caliber of the special effects and CGI takes a rollercoaster ride and ultimately just isn't quite exciting enough to leave a lasting impression.
Where the filmgoer may have anticipated medieval swordplay, they will find light-hearted PG-conflict. The "look" is eerily reminiscent to what a live-action "Aladdin" might be. With the playful, overbearing Disney-vibe throughout, it is hard to take the battles seriously or that one of the main characters may be in actual peril. All this "fun" works against any opportunity to create compelling dynamics for the audience.
It's not a lack of visual potential or an untalented cast that might make this "summer blockbuster" just fun, if not easily forgettable for you; it is a lack of substance. Go for a dose of family fun and you may find it, well, at least some.