Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Just to let you know, I didn’t see this film in 3D but there was enough moments to make you believe that it would have been good in the format (I’ll explain later).

Skepticism: it’s what we can use to get out of things. Unfortunately, I had to go to this as part of my job and was incredibly skeptical as to what to expect. After all, this is a Jerry Bruckheimer film we’re talking about. When was the last time he made a truly great movie that wasn’t filled with clunky dialogue and a semi-rubbish plot?

Answers on a postcard please… “Prince of Persia” had the potential to be great: based on the videogame of the same name, it boasts a sweeping desert environment and enough swashbuckling to keep any “Pirates of the Carribean” fan happy. Personally, I was most impressed with the costumes that the cast wore: Jake Gyllenhaal makes a very convincing prince in that outfit – even when they’re in the desert he wears an almost identical headscarf to the 2008 version of the prince (the one with the cel-shading that was visually stunning). The soundtrack too cuts quite close to the original thing, but a little more action-centred. So brownie points there.

But what else can I say? This film was pretty much tailored to be a 3D extravaganza: arrows and crossbow bolts fly everywhere and dust had the postential to get in your eyes. There’s also a good deal of knife-throwing and, god help us, snake action (the noise those snakes made was criminal: I nearly died). Perhaps seeing the film in 2D didn’t do it justice, but the IMAX effect gave made some of the shots beautiful: scenes of sun rises and travelling through the desert had the look of an inferior Lawrence of Arabia.

And that about sums it up: inferior. In their defence, Jake Gyllenhaal is a good cheeky chappy, similar to the 2008 version of the prince. Which would be good except this film isn’t based on that, it’s based on the prince in the second installment who was infintely more serious. Gemma Arterton is sassy as Princess Tamina, the swashbuckling heroine and love-interest but she sometimes gets annoying: it takes her character ages to trust the prince despite his many attempts to save her life and his promises that he isn’t a bad person. She’s also repetitive, but then again so is everyone. Prince Dastan uses the dagger of time to reverse the past twice before explaining what the dagger does to Tamina, who happens to be the guardian of the object – not only is this patronising to the audience who can see the effects, but surely he doesn’t have to explain to the dagger’s guardian? Come on, that’s just bad scripting.

As with every action movie there’s a false ending and a proper ending: you can see both coming for miles. Predictability really holds this film back. You know that Ben Kingsley is evil (he wears the most eyeliner, so that’s a giveaway), you know that the prince and Tamina are destined to be together, you know that they’ll save the world, you know that one of them will have a near-death experience. It just gets a little boring. The movie could be infinitely better if half an hour was cut out of it. The most impressive part of the film is the opening, political scenes where the Persians storm Alamut. The only thing that grated on me here was the fact that Dastan’s view and jump from one of Alamut’s towers is indebted to Assassin’s Creed, not the game it’s supposed to be based on.

In its defence, the film does boast some nice special effects: the slowing down and reversing of time both add nice touches that will keep gamers like me happy. But if they can do that, why couldn’t they have added some creatures? No demons = no Prince of Persia in my opinion.

Verdict: good if you want some incredibly dumb fun. If you like to think or at least have an element of intelligence in your blockbusters then don’t bother. Oh, and if you’ve played the games you’ll be fuming about the omissions. Maybe it’s not worth the hassle!

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