Defy the Future
Gísli Örn Garðarsson
Running Time: 116 minutes
US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 12A
Country: United States
The words ‘Based on the video game’ are a dangerous selling point. By taking the interactivity out of a computer game, the big screen version really needs to be interesting enough to grab the audience’s attention and satisfy fans of the game. With Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Mike Newell proves to be relatively successful by keeping the story turning over at a breathless pace for the best part, and so appealing a his youthful target audience.
The plot, if you can call it that, follows Dastan (Gyllenhaal), a street orphan who is picked by the King of the Persian Empire (Pickup) to be an honourary son. After sacking the holy city of Alamut with brothers Tus (Coyle) and Garsiv (Kebbell), and Uncle Nizam (Kingsley), Dastan is acused of killing his father and he goes on the run with Queen/Priestess Tamina (Arterton) and a lovely looking knife that turns out to be a mystical time-travelling weapon that everyone is trying to get their hands on.
For the first part of the film, Prince of Persia is a non-stop series of enjoyable action sequences that pass by at breakneck speeds without so much as a pause for breath. The action is beautifully choreographed and the cavernous settings of the Persian towns are well used. It’s a rare occurrence that trying to develop plot and characterisation is a bad thing but in Prince of Persia it is, because these attempts are awful. Mostly it involves Tamina bleating on about sacred this and sacred that whilst staring into middle distance and seemingly making it all up as she goes along. Newell would have done well to have just cut out any plot at all and cut the runtime to a swift and manageable ninety minutes.
In terms of performances, it is Alfred Molina as a wisecracking, wheeler-dealer Sheik, who equips himself the best. He’s given some choice lines and steals every scene he’s in. An ever-smirking Jake Gyllenhaal and an annoying Gemma Arterton are not the easiest of lead characters to care about, however, characterisation obviously takes a back seat to the action. Overall, if you want a fun and enjoyable film that’s easy to watch, you could do worse than this. I’ve been caught on a good day, it gets tiring being a cynical sod.
It's Got: Well choreographed action, an impressive setting, a show-stealing performance from Alfred Molina.
It Needs: To have actually got rid of any semblence of a plot or characterisation and knocked half an hour off the runtime.
Alternatives:Aladdin, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, The Mummy
Plenty of well executed, fast-paced action makes Prince of Persia enjoyable enough for a youthful audience, just don’t expect a servicable storyline or it to be over in a reasonable time.