PRINCE OF PERSIA
General Release 2010
115 minutes approx
Sheik Amar -
Directed by -
Written by -
Boaz Yakin & Doug Miro & Carlo Bernard
In the market square of a Persian city, a street orphan saves a child from the crime of stealing an apple and there's this blue genie and...Oops, wrong Disney film.
It's an easy mistake to make since the set up to PRINCE OF PERSIA:THE SANDS OF TIME is so cheerfully ripped off from ALADDIN that Disney would surely sue were they not the studio making this picture as well. Once accepted into the palace as one the princes, Dastan finds himself of the opinion that an assault on a holy city rumoured to be selling weapons to the enemies of Persia is not a good idea. He leads the assault, though, and finds himself in possession of a glass-handled dagger that, if filled with the right sand, can turn back time for thirty seconds, thus allowing him to get out of some sticky situations. The same dagger, however, if plunged into the sandglass of the Gods, will wipe all humanity off the face of the planet. Dastan is framed for the murder of his father and must go on the run until he finds out who actually did the dirty deed with the troublesome Princess Tamina in tow.
It's clear that PRINCE OF PERSIA:THE SANDS OF TIME wants to be the new PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN and spawn another blockbuster franchise. On the surface, there are a lot of similarities. A hero who has come from the streets and wants to win the girl who is from much superior stock, but who is earthy and fiesty and fighting against convention in her own right. There is magic in the shape of the dagger and in the enemies who attempt to kill the heroes with mind-controlled snakes. And there is a slightly disreputable sidekick who is the most entertaining character in the whole film. In the place of a sea of waves we get a sea of sand. There is much buckling of swashes and you know that love will conquer all in the end.
However, also like PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, the hero is very good looking and can handle the action stuff, but really hasn't got the charm required to pull off the part. As a result, the sparky relationship with the girl is successful more because of her and not because of him. Most significantly, the comedy sidekick (Alfred Molina as a disreputable slave dealer and ostrich racer) is no Jack Sparrow, despite the fact that he is very entertaining. He certainly shows up the central duo. Jake Gyllenhall can do the running, jumping and sliding thing, but really isn't the action hero when it comes to the repartee. Gemma Arterton has more to work with here than her dreadful turn in CLASH OF THE TITANS and manages to hold up her end of the banter between her Princess Tamina and Prince Dastan. Richard Coyle gives sterling support as the prince who might really be responsible for the death of the King and Ben Kingsley does stalwart villain duty as the uncle who clearly is one of the bad guys from the opening scene.
There is plenty of action in PRINCE OF PERSIA:THE SANDS OF TIME. The film opens with an assault on the walled city that aspires to LORD OF THE RINGS scale and certainly is impressive as it switches between free-running agility of the hero and sweeping vistas of the city under siege. Free running, it appears, is what Prince Dastan does best and several sequences of it later audience fatigue sets in. There's only so many times he can leap across the rooftops before the laws of diminishing returns sets in.
The special effects are excellent whether they are conjuring up some very evil looking snakes or an ancient city or the fabled sands of time that will scour the Earth clean of human life. The vistas of deserts and rocky ranges of mountains are epic in their sweep and certainly give a sense of scale to the whole thing.
The plot, however, rambles on a bit and it does fall apart towards the end as hero and villain release the sands only to stop them again despite the script having made it quite clear that once released the sands could not be stopped.
Taken in all, PRINCE OF PERSIA:THE SANDS OF TIME is an entertaining enough romp through an Arabian Nights setting that we haven't seen for a while that gets ideas above its station a few times and loses sight of what a blockbuster should be. Whether it becomes a whole new action adventure franchise only the sands of time will tell. We'd be surprised, though.
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