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Review: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Prince of Persia

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is the latest in a long line of failed attempts by Disney to launch a film franchise like Pirates of the Caribbean.  (The jury is still out on whether or not Tron: Legacy will be added to that list.)

Like most of America, I avoided the lure of the Prince of Persia in theaters.  Given the horrible reviews, this was relatively easy to do.  But in the quiet of my own home with scant streaming options on Netflix, I finally succumbed.

My expectations couldn’t have been lower.  In fact, I picked Prince of Persia because I was busy and I wanted something that wouldn’t require too much of my attention.  But to my surprise, I was slowly sucked in.  I won’t say the movie ever fully engaged me.  But it did entertain me far more than I had anticipated.  (Again, note my extremely low expectations.)

Don’t get me wrong.  Prince of Persia isn’t a good movie.  It’s a formula action/adventure movie cribbed together with bits and pieces of better movies.  It’s the kind of movie where the cast of Persians is populated by caucasian actors with lots of bronzer and (sometimes fake) English accents.

The English accents frequently made me laugh.  There’s no reason for a Persian prince to have an English accent.  And yet, Jake Gyllenhaal struggles with it mightily.  My theory is that when Hollywood wishes to convey an exotic location without actually using a foreign language and/or subtitles they figure an English accent will do the trick.

The story (adapted loosely from the video game series of the same name) is pretty convoluted.  On paper, it sounds indecipherable.  But even without actively paying attention, I found that I was able to follow the story as it unfolded.  Unlike, say, Tron: Legacy which reaches a point where it just kind of gives up.

The characters are thinly drawn.  Gyllenhaal’s Prince Dastan is a stock hero just as Ben Kingsley is a villain in the Snidely Whiplash tradition.  And Gemma Arterton is pure eye candy.  Alfred Molina even shows up as a desert eccentric/comic relief who runs a ostrich racing ring.

Yep, Prince of Persia is the kind of movie in which ostrich racing occurs.

There’s no depth at all to Prince of Persia.  And it lacks the visual appeal of something like Tron.  On top of all that, the movie ends with an anti-climax that completely deflates everything it has been building to.  But right up until that ending, I found myself reluctantly having fun.  Prince of Persia didn’t ask much of me.  And it didn’t give much in return.  I found the exchange rate to be acceptable for home viewing.

Don’t consider this a recommendation by any means.  If you were on the fence about watching Prince of Persia and you’re in the mood for a rather unambitious sword and sand adventure, give it a look.  Just keep your expectations in check.

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Posted on April 8, 2011, in Movies, reviews and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Agreed. I wasn’t blown away or very impressed but I wasn’t bored either. In the genre of movies adapted from video games it’s the best I’ve seen. Which is damning it with faint praise I suppose.

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    • Agreed.

      I actually enjoy the Resident Evil movies for the dumb entertainment that they are. But Prince of Persia is a step up. It’s actually trying. Unfortunately, it never rises above mediocre. But still, it’s not the snoozefest I had been expecting.

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