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The Prince Of Persia

by David Foucher
EDGE Publisher
Friday May 28, 2010
Jake Gyllenhaal in "Prince of Persia"
Jake Gyllenhaal in "Prince of Persia"  

Anytime the well-respected Ben Kingsley appears outside of a straightforward character-driven film (Thunderbirds, The Last Legion, et al.) , you can safely bet it's not going to be pretty. Perhaps other actors turned down the role of the titular character's ne'er-do-well uncle in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Kingsley was the last name brand who'd agree to the ill-written script; or perhaps the money was really good. Either way, he's sporting a caftan and looks to be wearing an egregious amount of black eyeliner. Watch out.

It's not that Prince of Persia fails to entertain; with Jerry Bruckheimer's wallet behind it, there's no shortage of special effects, CGI, high-intensity music, and even a bit of humor to the affair. And leads Jake Gyllenhaal (who clearly has been to the gym and sports his new biceps and long hair ala a new-age Fabio) and Gemma Arterton certainly turn on the charm. But in the attempt to turn this latest video game into a blockbuster, the creators forgot something. Now what was it? Oh yeah. The story.

Here it is, briefly: Street-rat-turned-Prince Dastan helps his elder brother attack an innocent city suspected of harboring weapons of mass destruction (parallel intended), capturing Princess Tamina and her mystical dagger. During the post-siege celebrations, Dastan is framed for the death of King Sharaman (Ronald Pickup), and escapes with the aforementioned damsel and her toy - which, by the way, he takes to carrying around sticking out the front of his pants. Now everyone is after Dastan for both the murder and for the knife, which, as it turns out, has some serious time-altering abilities. Too bad it can't help us get the last two hours of our lives back.

Gyllenhaal, Kingsley and Arterton make the most of the pedantic script penned by Boaz Yakin, Doug Miro and Carlo Bernard. And director Mike Newell keeps the action moving - particularly during the few sequences that bear any resemblance to the original video game wherein Gyllenhaal's character jumps, hops and swings from the scenery in a fast-paced, energetic style. But all that attempted swashbuckling can't match the entertainment value of Alfred Molina's gangster sheikh, who comes off as a pastiche of every back-alley nomadic desert kingpin in movie history, but in fact runs a tax-evading, well-oiled capitalist oasis and has a serious penchant for ostrich racing.

In fact, were it not for Molina, Prince would probably be interminable; Gyllenhaal is cute and all, but the film, for all its opulent effects, is basically donuts for dinner - a sentiment underscored by the overly loud, meaningless climax, which attempts to throw an extraordinary amount of music and sand at the audience so that we're distracted from what it really is: lame.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time


Runtime :: 116 mins
Release Date :: May 28, 2010
Language :: English
Country :: United States

David Foucher is the CEO of the EDGE Media Network and Pride Labs LLC, is a member of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalist Association, and is accredited with the Online Society of Film Critics. David lives with his daughter in Dedham MA.

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