Friday, 21 May 2010

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Dampened sand...

When it discovered that a nearby holy city may be manufacturing weapons for enemy states of Persia, Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal) and his brothers decide to attack the city in order to stop the treachery. When King Sharaman of Persia (Ronald Pickup) arrives Dastan offers his father a gift that ends up poisoning him. Dastan is suspected of murder and so he flees along with the captured Tamina (Gemma Arterton). Dastan soon discovers that he is possession of a powerful dagger that gives its bearer the ability to rewind time.

The Sands of Time is based upon the 2003 video game of the same name but there are few similarities shared between the two. For starters, the narrative is completely different but that does not stop certain story elements from the game sneaking into the odd scene of the film. Fans will definitely appreciate this aspect but their disappointment in the lack of faithfulness to the original game can be understood to some degree. While adaptations always bring about fun possibilities by never been entirely accurate, Prince of Persia forgoes a tale of the Prince finding redemption in place of a tried-and-tested tale of the protagonist attempting to clear their name of some terrible act not of their doing. This inevitably leads to a variety of locales in place of the single castle which contextualised the game and ultimately feels less unique then the premise of the film allows it to be. That said the story works just fine even though it loses direction on the odd occasion. It falls victim to being predictable at times but a decent mix of humour and some workable action sequences keep the experience from never being dull. On a side note, the film does get some depth from its political allusions to the US invasion of Iraq.

The cast can appear unorthodox considering it is a group of Westerners playing Persians and without any changes to speech. Though considering the original game contained a British speaking Caucasian protagonist, the casting come across more like a stylised option rather than a lack of desire to authenticity. The actors do a reasonable job but consistency is somewhat of a problem. At times the actors come across as flat but thankfully there is a charm to Gyllenhaal, intrigue with Arterton, and workable humour from Alfred Molina which prevents the acting from being poor. The chemistry between Gyllenhaal and Arterton only ever finds ground with their constant quips so their romance never feels involved enough by the films end.

The film is littered with computer animation and many acrobatic manoeuvres. The animation is an on and off affair but thankfully does more right than wrong. The scale of some of the imagery is wonderful such as the establishing scenes of the holy city and especially the Hourglass of Time itself. Though, the scenes involving the reverse of time appear underdeveloped. The acrobatic sequences are fairly enjoyable affairs but they are more akin to the Prince of Persia spiritual successor Assassin's Creed rather than the original game itself.

As a Disney film you can expect that nudity and sexual content play no role in the film. The same goes for language while the violence, frequent and somewhat lengthy at times, is relatively bloodless and involves a variety of weaponry slashes and stabbings.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is an intriguing take on its source material, albeit an obviously commercial one. Perhaps, the creators felt that the original plot was not marketable enough and for all intents and purposes they are most likely correct. The problem for the film is its lack of individuality in a stream of Hollywood blockbuster titles: it is just a pity that with a workable plot and metaphorical imagery that the film never reaches the height of its proposed fantastical nature. Granted, the narrative, acting, and base level sense of wonder gets the job done and makes for a fun time. Though, you would think that if the creators themselves had access to the mythical Dagger of Time, they could have gone back and given the film the needed sharpening it deserves.


Screen date: 21 May 2010
Release date: 21 May 2010