Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
(M) Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley
The video game has been around since 1989 in various forms with a 2003 iteration actually called The Sands of Time ¾ the version this film is supposedly based on.
The concept is ripe for an Indiana Jones-type fantasy adventure. With Jerry Bruckheimer at the helm what you get is a lot of bang for your buck, much exposition (that one quickly loses interest in) and spectacular scenery.
There’s a good reason for the film looking so good: it was shot near Marrakech, Ouarzazate and Erfoud, Morocco, as well as hugely scaled sets constructed at Pinewood Studios in Great Britain.
The setting is sixth century Persia. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as orphan turned Prince Dastan and Gemma Arterton stars as the plucky princess Tamina. They must work together to keep the legendary knife containing the Sands of Time from Dastan’s nefarious uncle Nizam (Ben Kingsley).
The knife allows the user to turn back time and Nizam wants to revisit his childhood and make sure his brother isn’t made King of Persia. What Nizam doesn’t understand is that the power of the Sands of Time could bring about a cataclysmic event that will end the world.
Directed by Mike Newell and produced by Bruckheimer, the film suffers from an overly convoluted story (it had four writers so there’s no surprise there) but the chemistry between Gyllenhaal and Arterton, the amazing set pieces and special effects almost enable you to forget this transgression. During the film’s second act there is a tendency to turn off and just coast with the action.
The theme of destiny is continually bandied about as the film’s charismatic leads sword fight and wisecrack their way through proceedings. Support from the underused but hilarious Alfred Molina as the ostrich racing Sheik Amar keeps the tone just right for the type of rollicking fantasy this undoubtedly is.
Unlike the dour Clash of the Titans remake that could have benefited from a bit of humour and a lightness of touch, Prince of Persia acquits itself well in this department.
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