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Movie Review: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

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It needs to be said before we enter into any discussion around the film Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time that I am indeed a gamer, and whilst I’m no expert at the modern day Prince of Persia titles (my wife holds that position in our house) I do have an appreciation for the style and form that makes up the games. So when approaching a film like this I do so with certain expectations.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is a 2010 Disney film starring Jake Gyllenhaal, directed by Mike Newell and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. It’s based on the popular video game of the same name as well as drawing on concepts from others in the franchise.

Jake Gyllenhaal in Prince of PersiaThe film follows Prince Dastan (Gyllenhaal) who has been betrayed and framed for the murder of his adopted father the king of Persia. Dastan has discovered the Dagger of Time, a knife that grants its user the ability to move back in time one minute and change what happens in that minute. It’s this dagger and the power that it grants that is the key to who has killed the king and being able to clear Dastan’s name.

The story, though, takes a back seat to the sets and action, that at times feels ripped directly from the games in their construction and execution. In fact I took great delight as the film replicated the style and sequences from the games as our hero leapt from roof tops, went swinging from poles and dodged arrows.

Some might be turned off by the constant references back to video game stylings but to me it was more about the film noting its origins and hearing the same sound effects from the game in the film was a nice nod without distracting non-gamers.

I watched the film on Blu-ray at home and the action sequences and huge locations were fantastic but I must admit to being a little envious of those seeing it originally on the big screen which must have looked really impressive.

Visually the film looks right, the costumes are great and the style that it’s shot in all capture the essence of the source material but it also makes me wonder if it wasn’t too much of a slave to this theme. In fact I’m often confused at the determination that studios have to try and reproduce gaming magic on the silver screen.

So many movies have been spawned from popular computer games and it seems that a high percentage of these films have failed to ignite the same passion from fans. I mentioned at the start the “certain expectations” that I had coming into this film, well those expectations were low, really low. For every Mortal Kombat film there’s a Super Mario Bros and a StreetFighter to keep the ratio tipped over into the awful range.

But I was surprised by Sands of Time; the film is lavishly put together and thanks to its pace and action is a pretty fun ride of a film. The characters though suffer from limited development, the acting is limited by the script and personally I don’t know if anyone had any great chemistry.

I enjoyed it for what it was, a spot of fun and an homage to a great gaming franchise.

What did you guys think of the film?

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About Lee Sargent

  • I’ve never played the PoP games, but I’ve played enough games to recognize the visuals of a video game. I really enjoyed the visual references quite a bit, and I don’t think they distracted the non-gamer at all (and my non-gamer wife will attest to that). It did just what I wanted it to: entertain me.

  • Like you I went in with next to zero expectations. I watched this on an iMax screen after winning free tickets. The massive screen really drew us into the flick. Some of the action scenes though were a challenge as with such a large screen you need to choose where to focus.

    On the whole I loved the movie.

  • @ Jeff like i said Tracey is more of the PoP player in the house and she was pointing out all the sounds and sequences for me 🙂

    Yeah with this film I was like you, just happy to be entertained and it did that well enough.

    @ Dean Jealous of the massive screen viewing!!