Saturday, May 29, 2010

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Review

I'm not one who says videogames will make bad movies. I believe some games are great ideas for movies. Halo. Half Life. Grand Theft Auto. Some videogame movies also have a history for bad films. Super Mario Bros. Doom. So when I watched Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time which is based on a 2003 game, I was mildly surprised. It didn't stink, in fact it was alright.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays Dastan, the adopted son of Persian King Sharaman. (Ronald Pickup) The king's brother George W. Bush convinces Persia to invade the City Alamut because he believes it has weapons of mass destruction. Um. sorry, that didn't happen. The king's brother Nazim (Ben Kingsley) convinces his nephews and stepbrothers of Dastan to invade Alamut because he claims they are selling weapons to Persia's enemies. During the invasion, Dastan captures a magical dagger which causes the person wielding it to go back in time for a few seconds. Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton) has the duty to protect the dagger and the secret of the city.

Dastan is framed for the murder of the King. The other princes order his arrest. Tamina helps him escape. But her motive is to get back the dagger and protect the secret of the city. They go on a journey to clear his name, save the city and some hankey pankey.

Director Mike Newell captures the videogame's platform jumping with many scenes of Dastan running and jumping ala parkour. The problem is his staging of the fight scences. First they're shot too close. A good fight is like a dance. I want to see the bodies in action. Second, there's way too much CGI and fancy editing in the fight scenes. I would rather he do it the old fashion way, with more stunt men. The story is well crafted, intriguing and it's romantic.

Performances are good. Jake Gyllenaal takes the material seriously and it shows. You're interested in his plight. Gemma Arterton is an exotic beauty whose performance radiates sincerity. Ben Kingsley, in this kind of role, hams it up but what do you expect? Gandhi? English accents of the actors give the movie a classic feel. One particular fun performance should be noted. Alfred Molina (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Spider-Man 2) plays a kind of Arabian Donald King. He is a hoot and nearly steals the movie.

It's not as good as this year's How to Train Your Dragon but I would not mind seeing a sequel. An enjoyable movie. The grade is B Minus.

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