Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

If ever a movie based on a video game had a chance, it was this one. Looking at all the things going for it; big budget, blockbuster producer, reputable director, quality actors – it was video games best chance of hitting movie mainstream. Not since the disappointing “Tomb Raider” movies did such a movie have that chance of breaking the hoodoo of crappy video game movies.

This movie isn’t crappy, but perhaps it set its standards too high. This movie couldn’t afford to just be “not crap”, it was expected to be the next “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

It is not the next Pirates of the Caribbean.

In an attempt to take a beloved video game franchise concept and turn it into Hollywood’s newest blockbuster movie franchise, the result is unfortunately an “okay” film that successfully panders to the core gamer fans with a few good winks and nods from the game, but delivers an otherwise confusing, ordinary film.

Conceptually “Prince of Persia” could really be a nice platform for all sorts of “Arabian Nights” style adventures, but they went one further and specifically chose to implement the key concept of the video game’s most recent trilogy involving the “Sands of Time”, namely the ability for the prince to turn back time. Loads of creative potential there, but somehow the movie finds a way of muddling the exposition up quite a bit, and it becomes a really confusing plot device. A real problem when it’s the foundation of the movie.

The movie promised to be part “Pirates”, part “The Mummy” and part “Indiana Jones”, but somehow delivers mediocrity. For most they will be perhaps pleasantly surprised, but for me, all I saw was wasted potential. I really wanted to like this movie.

As “un-Persian” as the Prince of Persia pretty much was in appearance anyway, Jake Gyllenhaal looked the part (that is to say, he looked quite like the video game character, not a Persian prince…), and his English accent was pretty convincing, though what a Persian prince (or in fact anyone in the entire region where this film is set) is doing with an English accent is one of those things you just accept with Hollywood films. Gemma Arterton meanwhile looks great just being Gemma Arterton – as an aside, I discovered she was born with 6 fingers on each hand. Freaky right?

This is the best movie ever made based on a video game. Unfortunately, that really isn’t saying much at all. I would welcome a sequel with a hope of seeing some improvements made on what was nearly, but not quite – but I suspect that will never come.

When the first Pirates movie came out, there was a dose of cynicism, it was a movie based on a theme park ride for crying out loud, with a well known star but one with no proven ability to anchor a big budget film. That film turned into a roaring success, despite those who thought it might tank badly. Prince of Persia was Bruckheimers second attempt at creating another big franchise, but I fear this time, he won’t have the same success.

Three stars.

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