Sunday, 23 May 2010

Cinema Review: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Renowned for his high calibre epics, Jerry Bruckheimer teams up with Mike Newell (director of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) to bring the tales of the Persian Prince to the big-screen, securing an undoubtedly fat cheque in his already full-to-the-brim pocket. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time continues the string of Summer blockbusters, but is it any good?

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is the big-screen adaptation of the popular videogame, spawning countless equally as popular sequels (which is incredibly rare in the land of gaming). Following with honor but not an entirely play-by-play copy of the game, the film centers around Prince Dastan (played by beefy Jake Gyllenhaal), the rebellious Persian Prince who, at a young age, was adopted by the King. Brought up alongside two brothers (Toby Kebbell and Richard Coyle), the trio played and trained under the watchful eye of their Uncle Nizam (Sir Ben Kingsley).

Once grown, the Prince crosses paths with rival, feisty Princess Tamina (Brit Gemma Arterton), but both are reduced to teaming up and fleeing the scene once the King is suspiciously murdered and Dastan is solely blamed, sending the duo on a cross country adventure, running into obscure business men and psychotic assassins, all-the-while equipped with a time-altering dagger which, naturally, is the object of many affections.

Much like Pirates of the Caribbean, Jerry Bruckheimer tries his hand at adapting material and turning it into a fully-fledged blockbuster and luckily with Pirates, he struck gold. Working with a single theme park ride, he transferred the entire theme perfectly, but with Prince of Persia, he had an entire game. However, the make-or-break deal - which would have decided the fate; either gloriously saving it or breaking it beyond recognition - came with bringing game creator Jordan Mechner on the scene.

Astoundingly, Bruckheimer struck gold once again with Mechner. Genuinely knowing the ins-and-outs of Prince of Persia, the exhilaratingly adventurous vibe which the game was so furiously fuelled with was successfully transferred onto film, making for an explosively entertaining experience.

Starring in the title role, and sporting a dashing English accent, Gyllenhaal whips himself into sword-clenching, parkour-loving shape. Whilst his character may seem a tad underdeveloped, that is entirely down, unfortunately, to the poorly, almost amatuer, written script. Effecting every character, each spout countless, cheaply uneffective one-liners, with the unintentional cringe effect which is so hilariously produced by the audience - or a groan of displeasure, if you're like me, at the sheer idiotism behind the bewilderingly child-like writing.

While the dialogue remains dire throughout, the story itself is captivating enough to hold the attentions of the many adolescents which will undoubtedly cause a ruckus in seeing the film beforehand.

Aside from the writing, each actor performs adequately. Gyllenhaal, unsurprisingly, is the stand-out star, changing his appearance entirely - an appearance which will be much loved by many - which aided my own personal belief in the character.

However, for a film of it's stature, it wouldn't have had the complete effect without the predictably average romantic subplot, featuring the leads falling ever so lovingly for one another while, inappropriately, on a mission to save their very lives. Sadly, the chemistry between Gyllenhaal and Arterton is non-existent. Squabbling like incoherent children, both characters are enjoyable to watch but together are merely a distraction for the audience, splitting up the brilliantly staged action sequences, allowing you to catch your breathe before thrown into another pulse-poundingly exciting scene.

While the direction is often rather skittish, the film rapidly jumps from scene to scene - which, for the most, worked -, firing Bruckheimer's traditionally impressive, special effects-laden sequences, all induced with stunningly appropriate cinematography to 'wow' and impress the audience further. Annoyingly, the lack of continuity between the scenes became tedious.

Clearly branded with Bruckheimer's legacy, i'm happy to report Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time stands with the very few game-to-film adaptions that redeem themselves worthy of a re-watch. If the writing was equally as worthy, this review would have been a rave of never-ending compliments. A highly entertaining blockbuster which pays enough respect to the game it originated from.


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