Friday, May 28, 2010

Movie Review: Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time


Okay, let me get this out of the way first: I'm a gamer (*gasp* *shock!*). So naturally I've played almost every single PoP game since Jordan Mechner's original came out on the Apple II in 1989.

There, now you know my "street cred" when it comes to this series, so let's continue.

The film version, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, is based loosely on the 2003 game of the same name. In fact, for all its differences (different names of the characters, different setting, some differences to the plot), it's more amazing how much of the spirit of the game was encapsulated by the film. You have to have played the original Sands of Time game to appreciate it all, really. For me, it was a highly enjoyable experience. Although, none of this should come as a surprise since the game's original creator, Mechner, had a hand in developing the movie's story, and was in fact one of the film's many, many producers.

I'm trying to avoid plot spoilers here, so I'm not going to go into the intricacies of the story's progression. But suffice to say that, for a video-game adapted film (which usually don't have the best of track records, historically) -- this movie delivers an intriguing, decently-layered plot. Surprising, actually. This has more meat to it than I expected, which is why I'm rating it so high.



I do wish there were more acrobatics, however. The PoP series--especially the "Sands" trilogy--is infamous for the Prince's insane agility and balance. He is, for all effect, the original king of Parkour. The film's star, on the other hand, could not realistically pull off the level of acrobatics the role called for. But hey, I'm not going to knock points off for this. I'm actually quite sick of the Parkour craze. People need to get over it and move on, already.

I liked Jake Gyllenhaal's performance, and am of the belief that it's better to get a good actor who can carry his scenes and teach him his stunts, rather than to get a good stunt man and teach him how to act. In this film, the former is what you get. Jake G is likable, captured the Prince's sarcasm perfectly, and was believable as an orphan who lucked into growing up as a "Prince" of Persia. People who claim the film is whitewashing have a point with some of the other cast members -- but not so much with Jake G, who's character, like I mentioned already, is supposed to be an orphan. Maybe his parents were foreign travelers to Persia and perished. Persia was a damn huge empire in its heyday; not everyone in it was Persian. Get over it.



As for the other actors: yes, they're white. Mostly British, in fact. But, meh, I don't care. I chose to just put this small detail out of my head for two hours and enjoy the movie for what it is: a damn good, swashbuckler of a good time!

Gemma Arterton, as usual, gets all smiles from me. I simply adore this actress in most everything I see her in (although I hated her blonde look in Quantum of Solace). The constant bickering and eventual attraction between her character, Tamina, and the Prince Dastan (Gyllenhaal) pretty much made the whole movie for me on its own. The chemistry fizzles for just a tad near the third act, sure, but then comes back in full force by the end.


Ben Kingsley, naturally, is the consummate professional. This man just oozes cool even when he's phoning in his performance. Which, surprisingly, he did NOT do in this film. Some would argue with me on this point, but to me he looked like he was invested in the role and having FUN! Imagine that, eh?

But that's what this movie is: grand, summer blockbuster, F-U-N!!!

Special mention goes to Alfred Molina, who damn near stole the movie with his over-the-top characterization of the black-market merchant and Ostrich-race promoter (yeah, you read that right), "Sheik" Amar. In lesser hands, this role could have fallen quickly into farce--or even worse, played straight--but Molina plays it deftly, carefully reigning in Amar's antics when needed, and letting go full throttle when the scene requires that extra bit of humor to lighten up the somber mood. It's ingenious how well he handles this balancing act, and I give him kudos.

In the end, this was a film well worth my time watching. Check it out if you want high-flying action, a little bit of romance, and deep enough plot to keep you just interested enough in the characters' motivations as they traverse the gorgeous Moroccan scenery (filling in for Persia) on their way to restore the . . . Sands of Time!

Oh, but if you have an irrational fear of snakes -- you might just want to avoid this one. Seriously, you haven't seen this many slow motion aerial snake attacks (snake-mo?) since Snakes on a Plane. Be forewarned.

Rating:  7.5/10

2 comments:

Rodney said...

I knew that Ben Kingsley wouldn't associate himself with a bad movie. Thanks for the review, David.

When, and if, I get to see this, I'll put up my review on the film! It'll be the first time we BOTH review the same film!

David Batista said...

Hey, that's right. Cool! I eagerly await your take, then. Especially since you played the games, too, and can thus appreciate some of the nods this film makes towards them.

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