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>> Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Someone please use the sands of time to get this thing un-made…

I’ll say it straight up - I’ve never played the video game this movie is based off of. In this case it probably doesn’t matter though. First of all, I am a firm believer that a movie should stand alone from the material it is based off of. Exempli gratia, a Harry Potter movie should not be enhanced any further because I’ve read the books, outside of a few Easter eggs here and there for the die-hards. I wonder though, if Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time would have been a better movie for me if I had played the game? From what I’ve heard – the game is quite enjoyable (if not a bit easy).

Movies based on video games have always had a curse looming above their heads almost as if the video game gypsies made the decision long ago that no movie would be more than moderately successful when based on a video game. I site Bloodrayne, Super Mario Brothers and Doom all as evidence. Speaking of Super Mario Brothers, will someone get Tim Burton on an adaptation already? Clearly he won’t be doing any original work in the near future with remakes of Frankenweenie and The Addams Family on his plate. His style of directing and love of the weird could definitely make a Mario movie work. But I digress…

Jake Gyllenhaal (who I’m confident has about as much acting range as Ben Affleck) does his best to lose the gay cowboy typecast he set up in Brokeback Mountain by taking on an Indiana Jones-esque role as Dastan. Dastan is the charming, side-smirking adopted Prince of Persia who finds a magical dagger that lets him turn back time for about a minute. However, the knifey-knife needs to be refilled with the sands of time after it’s used every two or three times making it about as fuel efficient as a Hummer towing the Statue of Liberty - making the movie relatively lame. Ben Kingsley plays the bad guy Nizam once again proving we need a Ghandi sequel or he needs to fire his agent (see Sound of Thunder for further proof). Even Alfred Molina as ostrich racer Sheik Amar is completely awful and his performance the best out of all of them.

The fact of the matter is that Prince of Persia’s action sequences (which is all we’re really looking for) are unoriginal and a retread of a lot of other action movies we’ve all seen before. This includes slow motion Matrix-flips and death-defying acts that are about as realistic as the bus in Speed jumping that 50 foot gap. And yes, I do have the ability to hold off some harsh criticism when it comes to special effects in a supposed eye-candy movie about a magical time-warping dagger, but when nothing else holds its ground (the dialogue, the acting, the plot) then really it drags everything else down with it.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time gets a closed door. It may not be the worst movie of the year, but it’s awfulness is further multiplied due to the large budget and existing fan base that should have put a bit more pressure on writers and studio execs. The only plus here is that Disney showed some restraint when not releasing this in 3-D. Summer 2010, meet your version of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

*Stills courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures


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