Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010) is one of those interesting contradictions – a movie based on a video game. Okay, so confession time. I've played Prince of Persia on Xbox and enjoyed it. That in and of itself does not mean that you will automatically enjoy the movie, as we all well know based on previous experience.
The scale and perspective of this is huge. There is no denying that it is plenty pretty enough. There are elements in the camera work and the parkour side of the fight sequences that is taken straight out of the game and it looks really, really good. It has flow and a certain logic intrinsic to the world it creates and that is all good and fine.
The basic narrative in most games is not all that complicated. It's a pretty straight forward “kill the evil things and save the princess” kind of deal. The movie tries to expand and embellish on this by adding age old Cain and Abel myths, giving the pretty princess a haughty and resourceful personality and adding another layer of basic myths like the orphan boy found in the street showing the qualities of a true prince amongst men, the three brothers ruling together in counsel and competing in some ways for the throne and on and on. There is also humorous sidekicks and spectacular fight sequences.
The story takes part in a mythical past, in a far off Persian Empire where the sun always shines. It starts with an attack on the sacred city of Alamut where princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton) rules. Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal) leads the attack. He gives his father a robe which turns out to have been poisoned. Dastan is suspected of murder and has to run for his life. And jump. And leap. And throw himself off tall buildings. You get the idea.
Adventures ensue. The why and how and wherefore does not really matter, but there are evil assassins, plotting princes, ostrich races and a magical dagger that can turn back time. It's all about the dagger, actually, as we come to discover as the story progresses. That part is no surprise if you've played the game, but it's visually stunning.