Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

19 Jul

Title: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Year: 2010
Director: Mike Newell
Writer: Boaz Yakin, Doug Miro, Carlo Bernard based on the screen story and video game series by Jordan Mechner
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Ben Kingsley, Gemma Arterton, Alfred Molina
MPAA Rating: PG-13, intense sequences of violence and action
Runtime: 116 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating: 6.9
Rotten Tomatoes: 37%

This is a film with no substance, but then again that’s something one has come to expect from most of Jerry Bruckheimer’s offerings, what one has also come to expect from them is that they know just how dumb they are, and because of that edge that they have from many other films who are dumb and don’t realize it this one can be just a fun summer action film, not a great one, but one that makes bank, where this one is above average is when it comes to judging videogames adaptations which have been decidedly horrible while this one is bearable. Oh, and David Belle, the parkour expert they used in this film, is the one to be credited for most of  the funner stuff.

And the talent pool doesn’t stop with Mr. Belle, we have Jake Gyllenhaal and Sir Ben Kingsley and Alfred Molina in big roles, that’s an Oscar nominee, an Oscar winner and a guy who for some reason hasn’t been nominated yet, though in my mind he should have been last year for An Education, and maybe a few years earlier for Frida, but anyways, what I mean is, there’s talent here, even the cinematographer, John Seale, is an Oscar winner and has three other nominations. But, to me, it just wasn’t there, maybe it’s the fact that the story enables us to rewind time and try stuff again, maybe it was the writing, I don’t know, it just wasn’t there for me.

Dastan, the Jake Gyllenhaal character, was raised by the King of Persia after being seen by him as a kid defending another boy and speeding through rooftops (that’s where David Belle’s stamp is at), so he grows up as son to the King, with two brothers and with an uncle, who’s the Ben Kingsley character and who will turn out to be the villain, and under this guy’s command the Persian army invades a neighboring city in the quest for weapons of mass destruction (yay for contemporary political commentary in the Persian empire fifteen-hundred years ago), and there Dastan meets Princess Tamina, who’s played by Gemma Arterton, just as an anecdote I’ll say that I was actually the only one at my theater not completely drooling over her, but yeah, she’s pretty enough to fulfill this role.

She’s the one with the Dagger of Time which can do the aforementioned time-jumping thingie that makes the “sands of time” run out if it is used too long, the king’s evil brother evidently just wanted to get into the city with any excuse so that he himself could get the Dagger which is the actual weapon (yeah, political commentary here, too) and, to avoid this from happening, Dastan and Tamina flee, which paves the way for a helluva lot of CGI-heavy action sequences, but then again this is a Bruckheimer film so you know that pointless digital stuff will be happening in excessive amounts at some point during the ride, seriously, all of his films follow the same formula, and yet people always go into them as though they were something new, and yeah, it’s nice light entertainment, but it’s been a while since a Bruckheimer flick has offered something more substantial than that, I’m talking seven years ago with the first Pirates of the Caribbean, four years ago if you really digged Deja Vu.

Mike Newell the director has also done some cool stuff before, but like Bruckheimer it’s been a while, I’m talking 1997 when he did Donnie Brasco, since then he has done the very so-so Mona Lisa Smile, the disappointing Love in the Time of Cholera, and the franchise-worst Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, so yeah, what we have here is a producer and a director who have delivered some great stuff, but that haven’t done it again for years, I’m talking critically obviously, not commercially, and unfortunately for them this won’t break their streak, this movie not only is based on a videogame, but feels like one, too, and yeah it’s above par when it comes to these adaptations, but that’s not saying much at all.

But let’s be honest, this is a painless film, and it’s not as though anyone could have been expecting anything more than this, people will eat their popcorn, men will drool over Ms. Arterton, women will drool over Mr. Gyllenhaal, and Bruckheimer will collect his paycheck from box-office receipts, though I’m guessing that won’t be as fat as it was some years ago.

Grade: C+

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