Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
26Aug/100

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)

Andrew DISLIKEProductive concept.  Take the idea of video games, try and utilize what makes them appeal to people, find a way to have them comment on the world that we live in, and craft it in such a way that playing it enhances the human experience.  For the sake of all things aesthetically productive, please let the game stand on it's own merits for awhile.

Negative concept.  Take a fairly entertaining game that is heavy on long running cinematic concepts (especially of the Errol Flynn variety) and adapt it back to the big screen.  Please make sure to remove any charm of the original, set the whole video games as art debate back another few paces, and sully the idea of film as an important medium in the process.  Thanks Prince of Persia, for making both industries take a few steps back.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is based on the video game of the same name.  The titular prince is responsible for the destruction of a poor kingdom that happens to be in the way of an evil vizier's plot, and runs into a dagger that let's him control the flow of time.  Usually that's used to protect him or others from death.  Actually that's all it's used for.  Anyway, this is a mighty handy tool to have for a kingdom looking to expand so a mighty tug of war begins over control over the prince, the princess of the sacked kingdom, and the almighty dagger.

An unsuspecting boom mic operator is about to get Gyllenhaaled.

This is an astonishingly boring movie, centered around a confounding choice for a lead.  Jake Gyllenhaal is a great actor, as are many of the people that decided to appear in this, but is not a very good action star.  Sometimes putting an actor out of their comfort zone can yield wonderful results (see Matt Damon in the Bourne franchise, or Adam Sandler in Punch-Drunk Love), but Gyllenhaal is thoroughly incapable of bringing any sort of weight, comedic or otherwise, to the role.  As it stands he hops around from pole to pole during one of the many dull chase scenes that take place in and around the great city looking like a preschooler that ended up in Applied Calculus.

He's surrounded by a number of similarly confused actors and actresses, floundering about for anything to do or say.  No one is helped by a script containing lines like "What you're looking at is the walk of a man that has lost everything", and performances are tuned in accordingly.  Ben Kingsley decides to substitute villanious heft for an extra coat of eye shadow (though does have fun with a lip smacking monologue at the end).  The prince's love interest/friendly antagonist, played by Gemma Arterton, dozes through most of her scenes.  The brothers of the prince, played Richard Coyle and Toby Kebbell, look like they were cast as extras and then accidentally given lines.  This saddened me more than anything else, because Richard Coyle is a fantastic comic talent and could have been utilized to inject some life into the surroundings.

Which, in the movies first saving grace, Alfred Molina manages to do in his few scenes.  He plays an unscrupulous thief that has a penchant for launching into monologues about the suicidal tendencies of ostriches.  This is the sort of thing that Christopher Walken might do in one of his walk-ons, but there's a contextual reason for him doing so.  There are ostrich races in the film.  Which is the second saving grace of the film.  Watching a gaggle of hardened, sand blasted warriors riding around on ostriches is a sight worthy of the big screen.

I promise you, just off-screen is pure ostrich wonderment.

There's not a single other image in the film that is worth preserving.  Included are the many shots of the prince looking brave, or the princess getting dirty, or the many panoramic shots swooping and soaring over the landscape.  The only thing that gives these images any sort of "originality" is Persia's steadfast determination to make the landscape (and the characters standing on it) as orange as possible.  It wouldn't surprise me if Tangerine Dream had a producer credit for this film.  The sand was orange, the prince's skin was orange, the weapons had an orange tint.  The only thing in the entire movie that had a color other than orange was the theif's collection of ostriches.

Well, like I noted, the movie had that going for it.

Films like this don't do anyone any favors.  They don't advance the art of film, nor persuade anyone to check out the games on which they were based.  Occasionally I'll find a movie that's better than the source material.  In this case you're better off finding a game console, bug a friend to let you try the game (or watch them play it), and enjoy the snappy banter that didn't make it into the movie.  At least something good may come out of this mess.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)

Directed by Mike Newell.
Written by Jordan Mechner, Boaz Yakin, Doug Miro and Carlo Bernard.
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley and Alfred Molina.

Posted by Andrew

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