Director: Mike Newell
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley
Prince of Persia sets out to recreate the action found in the videogame series and hopefully find a new adventure franchise for cinema-goers. The series creator Jordan Mechner is even on board to help with the story. It proves to be a by-the-numbers approach taken by most blockbusters nowadays but it’s not without its charms.
The plot centres around a young orphan named Dastan, who is kindly taken into the care of the King of Persia. With them he fights, until one battle leads him to the discovery of a dagger with unique capabilities. Along with the princess Tamina, Dastan uncovers a plot to use the power of the dagger for something which puts their entire world at risk. Cue epic speeches, tense swordfighting and lots of physically impossible leaps of faith.
Taking place in Persia in the sixth century, the film certainly provides an excellent backdrop for fast paced and rousing scenes. Most of the sets are beautiful and are perfect for creating the atmosphere for the story. Mike Newell, who previously directed ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’, helms the movie with confidence. Thanks to some snappy editing, the action comes fast and thick, with the prince flipping and jumping like an accomplished gymnast. It’s admirable that the film stays true to its source by providing die-hard fans something to smile over. There are also some brilliantly choreographed fight scenes to break up the free running prince’s antics.
Gyllenhaal is serviceable as Dastan. He physically looks the part but there are certain borderline cringe-worthy moments involving the prince’s dialogue with Tamina. Perhaps Gyllenhall’s not to blame but some of it comes off as a bit too cheesy. Still, some of their back and forths can be amusing. Gemma Arterton plays Tamina, the character with the most knowledge of the heroes’ dilemma. The obligatory love interest, Arterton gets the job done for a film of this scale. She looks good, provides exposition, and gives Jake Gyllenhaal’s character something to fight for throughout the movie.
While definitely nothing to write home about, I don’t think Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time deserves to be dismissed either. As a summer blockbuster or popcorn movie, it certainly gets it right. With just enough nods to the games coupled with the involvement of the series creator, the prince makes the transition to the screen in a much smoother way than most videogame adaptations. With a tighter script and perhaps even a darker approach, I would be interested in seeing how the Prince of Persia could evolve on our cinema screens over the coming years.
Christopher Carton, Gortatleva