PRINCE OF PERSIA: SANDS OF TIME
John ‘Doc’ Strange
Directed by: Mike Newell
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Alfred Molina, Ben Kingsley, Steve Toussaint, Toby Kebbell, Richard Coyle, Ronald Pickup, Reece Ritchie, Gisli Orn Gardarsson
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action.
Selig Rating: FULL PRICE
Running Time:1 hr. 55 min.
Here is another video game making the jump to the big screen, this time with a script and cast capable of justify said jump. Jordan Mechner, who created the game, penned this screen story from which was then adapted for shooting by Boaz Yaken, Doug Miro, and Carlo Bernard.
The story’s premise revolves around Prince Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal) adopted in his youth by the King of Persia for his fearlessness and good heart. Many years have passed since the adoption, Dastan and his to older brothers and true sons of King Sharaman (Ronald Pickup), Prince Tus (Richard Coyle) and Prince Garsiv (Toby Kebbell) have been sent to quell dissent in the realm. They are informed that a holy city is selling arms to their enemies. They are urged to attack the city and stop these sales by their uncle and advisor, Nazim (Ben Kingsley). Dastan asks to lead the attack but Tus gives this task to the older, more experienced Garsiv.
Dastan sees a chance to save the lives of many troops by breaking into the city on the side away from his brothers besieging troops. He successfully leads his ragtag company of men and opens the gate to allow entry to the Persian troops. Seeing his success, his brothers swiftly act on his triumph and storm the city through the compromised gate.
The fighting is short and swift. While the troops are fighting their way to the holy sanctuary at the center of the city, the head priestess, Tamina (Gemma Arterton), makes arrangements to smuggle the reason for her existence, the dagger, out of the city. In the only poor scene I saw in this story, the man assigned to this task attacks Dastan instead of attempting to skulk quietly away. In the fight that ensues, Dastan bests him and takes the knife as his prize.
Following the battle, Prince Tus enters the holy place and decides to bring peace by making the high priestess his bride thus connecting her city with the Persian Empire for all time. The king hears of their battle and races to the holy city to attempt to make things right. He decides that the wedding should go forward. The sons each produce gifts for the King. As usual, Dastan does not have a gift fit for a King in his spoils so Tus gives him a ceremonial robe to give their father. This robe results in the death by chemical burning of the King. Dastan escapes with the Tamina one step ahead of Prince Garsiv on Garsiv’s horse.
What follows is a chase fully worthy of a Jerry Bruckheimer movie (after all, he IS the producer) as Dastan and Tamina race to get the knife safely secreted away where the bad guys can’t find it. Unfortunately for them, the forces of darkness include the Hassasins, killers who were thought to have been disbanded and eliminated many years previously. Their fighting techniques are as imaginative as the movie including trained vipers and many exotic weapons,
I am told by several Prince of Persia game aficionados that the acrobatic fighting techniques used by Gyllenhaal (and his stunt doubles) and the Hassasins is perfectly in line with those used in the game. I can’t say about that but it IS fun to watch, full of acrobatic flips and running along poles sticking out of the adobe-like buildings of the region.
For humor we have Alfred Molina as Sheik Amar, the pessimistic, tax-dodging schemer always looking for an easier way to make money and loving his racing ostriches. The sheik reluctantly follows Dastan and Tamina on their quest, accompanied by Seso (Steve Toussaint), a giant of a man, supposedly of an ancient tribe of Africans know for their prowess with throwing knives.
This is a film that is full of amazing visuals and exciting action, good humor and endearing teasing touches of love and affection. I can heartily recommend it with a full Selig rating of FULL PRICE! You will enjoy this saga and look forward to seeing if we gat a sequel as much as I did.
The Selig Rating Scale:
FULL PRICE – Excellent movie, well worth the price
MATINEE – Good movie
DOLLAR – OK movie
CABLE – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
FREEBIE – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn't paid for it.
COMMERCIAL TV – Commercials and cutting to the allotted time will not hurt this one.
FORGET IT! – Bad. If you see this one, do yourself a favor and keep it to yourself.
GET YOUR TORCHES – BAD! – Burn the script, the writer, the director and maybe even the actors!