movie film review | chris tookey

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

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  Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Review
Tookey's Rating
6 /10
Average Rating
5.38 /10
Dastan - Jake Gyllenhaal, Tamina - Gemma Arterton
Full Cast >

Directed by: Mike Newell
Written by: Boaz Yakin, Doug Miro, Carlo Bernard, based on the videogame series Prince of Persia created by Jordan Mechner

Released: 2010
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 116

Enjoyable blockbuster doesn’t escape its video game origins.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Producer Jerry Bruckheimer goes for the same formula that made a hit franchise out of The Pirates of the Caribbean. Prince of Persia, shot partly in Morocco and partly at exotic Pinewood Studios, is a fast-moving swashbuckler with an Arabian Nights flavour and the kind of athleticism that made Douglas Fairbanks a star in the silent era.

Jake Gyllenhaal (pictured left), with heavy-metal rock star hair and a passable English accent to fit in with the Brit-dominated cast, plays Prince Dastan, an astonishingly acrobatic street urchin who as a child was adopted into the Persian royal family by King Sharaman (Ronald Pickup) and raised along the King’s real sons (Richard Coyle and Toby Kebbell).

A grown-up Gyllenhaal leads a daring attack on the holy city of Alamut, which is wrongly believed to be harbouring weapons of mass destruction – an unsubtle reference to a more recent conflict.

Before Jake can get to the bottom of this, he is framed for the assassination of his father and goes on the run, along with a feisty princess – is there any other kind in modern movies? – played, beneath several layers of fake tan, by Gemma Arterton (pictured right).

Together, they fight off enemies and make new friends, among them Alfred Molina, as a dodgy, ostrich-fancying Sheikh – an entertaining mixture of Peter Ustinov’s slave-trader in Spartacus and Arthur Daley in Minder.

Mike Newell organises the shenanigans with some skill, if no discernible personality. John Seale’s cinematography is on an epic scale, and the North African locations are stunning. Harry Gregson-Williams contributes a score that pinches productively from Lawrence of Arabia.

The screenplay is functional, at best, and poor Gemma Arterton – back, I’m afraid, to her facially immobile worst - has to spout vast gobbets of exposition at breakneck pace. Sir Ben Kingsley turns up for his pay cheque, wearing so much black eye-liner that he is obviously either the bad guy or contemplating an alternative career in belly-dancing.

Virtually everything in the movie is second-hand, even the good bits. The knife-throwing Steve Toussaint, for instance, is a black version of the taciturn James Coburn character in The Magnificent Seven.

This is the Bruckheimer conveyor belt in action, and you can easily tell that this is based on a platform-based, problem-solving computer game, aimed at small boys of all ages. Its frenetic pace and CGI-dominated action leave little room for character development or deep audience involvement. Actors as good as Gyllenhaal, Molina and Kingsley deserved more.

Still, fans of mindless summer blockbusters will get their money’s worth of adventure, spectacle and kitsch, and it’s much more entertaining than Clash of the Titans.

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