Monday, 24 May 2010


Walt Disney Studio Films
Now Showing

The first clue that Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time would not be an enthralling movie going experience was in learning that it is based on a computer (video?) game. I don't play computer games but then I am an adult. It's not the first time this game-to-movie adaptation has occurred and, sadly, it won't be the last.

Then again, the Pirates of the Caribbean films were based on a theme park ride and the first installment of those films was, for the most part, fun due mostly to Johnny Depp's Capt. Jack Sparrow. Jake Gyllenhaal doesn't bring that same sense of fun to PoP, having spent more time in the gym buffing up for the role than working on the nuances of his character, Dastan.

Adopted by the King of Persia, Dastan is the wildest yet most honest of the royal sons, all of whom we meet as they are preparing to invade the holy city of Alamut, which they suspect of selling weapons of destruction to Persian enemies. But this intel is merely a rouse concocted by the king's embittered brother, Nizam (Ben Kingsley), to get his hands on another of the city's prized possessions. No, not Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton) but a dagger that has the power to rewind time.

When the King is killed and Dastan blamed, he goes on the run with the outspoken Princess. Of course, the two will eventually fall for each other, as you can tell from their antagonistic banter which has none of the spark of Iron Man and Pepper Potts. Thankfully there's Alfred Molina who steals every scene and adds some much needed humour to proceedings as Sheik Amar, a prince of thieves and a major player in the ostrich racing industry.

There are plenty of action sequences in Prince of Persia but none of it particularly thrilling. Director Mike Newell, who directed the fourth and, for mine, best of the Harry Potter films, The Goblet of Fire, seems to be going through the motions here. Perhaps computer games are as anathema to him as they are to me?

Film critic Roger Ebert felt the wrath of gamers when he recently published an article on his blog stating that computer games could never be considered art. I'm not well enough acquainted with the medium to judge but I will say they certainly don't make for good films, let alone artistic ones.

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