NOVEMBER 19, 2010

“Prince of Persia: The Sands Of Time” takes all the major plot points from several of its Walt Disney predecessors and combines them into a live-action Arabian family feud film, with a hint of the metaphysical and mythological. Though well cast, it falls short of other films like “300” and rides the fine line between child’s film and adult action adventure.

“Prince of Persia” is a product of Walt Disney, and you can tell. Just like “Pirates of the Caribbean” took the obscene lives of pirates and made them PG-13 so that kids can still enjoy the drunken and vulgar sea-dwelling swashbucklers. Themes from several classic animated films present themselves. The most obvious is “Aladdin,” with the desert setting and the similar character of the street urchin turned prince (of Persia). The other film that the storyline follows is “The Lion King,” with the idea of backstabbing siblings and sinister relatives looking to take the throne. Walt Disney has proved for years that these formulas work but drastically remove any originality that film might possess.

The supernatural element of the film took the basic, bottom-line story to a completely different level. As long as an audience member is expecting this twist, which I (and most movie trailers) suggest heavily, there should be little to no hatred for a sword that wields power to travel back in time as long as there is sand in the hilt. Suppose one had not caught a trailer for the film. In that case, you are hopefully aware that the film comes from a video game of the same storyline and title, thus, passing on many of the game’s unique action sequence maneuvers to that which Jake Gyllenhaal enacts throughout the film.

The biggest hindrance in my immediate viewing of the film was Jake Gyllenhaal playing a Persian with an accent and a muscular build, a part he has rarely played. In all honesty, Gyllenhaal will always stick out to me as the kid from “Bubble Boy,” the odd boy from “Donnie Darko,” and the gay cowboy from “Brokeback Mountain,” none of which resemble this particular role. However, within the first few minutes of the film, Gyllenhaal proves himself and garners my respect for the rest of the film, rarely losing that respect and easily fitting his role, which he has not yet displayed in most of his notable features.

Gemma Arterton has proved her worth as an actress with the few roles in which she has appeared. “Clash of the Titans,” “Quantum of Solace,” and “Rock’N’Rolla” proved to be great endeavors for her, and she continues her niche in “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” as the fast-talking princess. Her voice is just as soothing as her graceful looks and solidifies her future in the action-adventure genre.

Toss Ben Kingsley and Alfred Molina into any film, and expect results. These men were born to act, and they prove this by rounding out the film’s young cast.

Though I expect the film would have been much better in the hands of a different production company, the fact that “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” did not turn me off was a feat in itself. I did enjoy the adventure the film embarked its audience on but felt the magical fairy wings poking through the ever-present Walt Disney logo. Perhaps one day, Walt Disney will learn to stick to its animation and refrain from live-action adventures like “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” and “Pirates of the Caribbean.” Still, until then, I will continue to be just mildly amused by their products rather than completely dazzled.

May 28, 2010

Mike Newell

Boaz Yakin
Doug Miro
Carlo Bernard
Jordan Mechner

“Prince of Persia”
by Jordan Mechner

Walt Disney Pictures

(for intense sequences of violence and action)

116 minutes

John Seale

Harry Gregson-Williams

Michael Kahn
Martin Walsh
Mick Audsley

Jake Gyllenhaal
Gemma Arterton
Ben Kingsley
Toby Kebbell
Alfred Molina
Richard Coyle
Ronald Pickup
Reece Ritchie
Steve Toussaint

Jerry Bruckheimer

$200 million

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