Movie Review: Prince of Persia


Film: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Director: Mike Newell

Lead Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley, Alfred Molina

Rating: 7.5 out of 10 – entertainment, entertainment, entertainment!

As I nestled in my seat at the theater, watching the opening scenes of the movie, I was stuck by two things. First, the Persian, Arabian setting of the movie with small brick houses, camels, tunics and lots of sand, reminiscent of the Arabian Nights and Alibaba and 40 Thieves. The second undoubtedly, was Jake Gyllenhaal. I wondered if this was the same silent, brooding, vulnerable Jake I had seen in Brokeback Mountain and The Day After Tomorrow. Reportedly, Jake had put in quite an effort to build muscles and gain weight for this role. And it shows.

But as the movie progressed, something else stuck me even herder: the breathtaking stunts and sword (and knife) fights with minimal CGI effect. In this age of gizmos, and sleek weapons, it is so refreshing to see the hero fighting the baddies the old fashioned way and yet retaining an essential element of modern action, namely, speed. So you will see Prince Dastan (Jake) jumping and flying at lightening speed with two swords in both hands killing his adversaries with relentless ease.

Don’t expect Prince of Persia to be a Crouching Tiger of a Gladiator. It’s not pathbreaking cinema. It’s cliched, cheeky and for the most part, is a collection of bits and pieces, from the video games of the same name and from other Arabian action movies. In fact, you would be unfair if you expected that from a movie based on a video game. This movie is all about fast paced action, a tight script and loads of visual entertainment.

Dastan, born in the Persian ghettos, gets adopted by the Persian King Sharaman, after his childhood act of bravery, and grows up to be a third Prince, along with Tus and Garsiv, his brothers. Based on the information from a spy, the three brothers raid the sacred Kingdom of Alamat for secretly amassing weapons. The Princess of Alamat, Tamina, senses danger and tries to safeguard a dagger. But both the dagger and the princess are captured. After a series of events, The King of Persia is killed and Dastan is accused of his murder and so, he along with Tamina, fled to the wilderness along with the dagger. The dagger as it turns out, is no ordinary dagger, and has the power to turn back time. The movie, from then on becomes a struggle to acquire the dagger. The Princess wants it because she is it’s guardian, Dastan wants it because he has to prove his innocence to his brother and the evil uncle Nizam (Ben Kingsley) because he wants to go long back in time to undo something that he had done. But Nizam doesn’t know that What he intends to do will not take him back in time but destroy the world through a sandstorm.

The actors have done justice to their Roles. Jake doesn’t have much to do apart from fighting. Gemma is gorgeous and enticing as Princess Tamina and has some pretty good moves too. Her romantic chemistry with Jake is tantalising. The two come together close frequently, and every time you get a feeling (and wish) that they go ahead and kiss. But alas they don’t, save once! Disappointingly, a veteran actor like Ben Kingsley doesn’t have much to do in this movie. Even his evilness comes out only towards the end. But the surprise package of the movie is Alfred Molina as the greedy “businessman” Sheikh Amar who is only interested in tax free income. He doesn’t get much screen time, but play with aplomb whatever little he gets.

Coming from the makers of Pirates of The Carribean, you can expect the same level of technical brilliance from this movie too, including script and editing. What is probably missing here is the charisma of Johny Depp. Jake is good. But he is not Depp. Neither is Prince Dastan, Captain Jack Sparrow.

Bottomline

Watch this movie if you haven’t. Watch it for the action, watch it for the Persian magic and mystique, watch it for the beautiful costumes and the golden, sand laden, palaces, watch it for the humor of Alfred Molina, and if that is not enough reason, watch it for the “kissless” romance of the prince and princess. You will find it heartwarming to see them holding each others hands in the end, barely knowing each other, even after going through a magical adventure together. In short, watch it for pure entertainment.

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6 Comments to “Movie Review: Prince of Persia”

  1. I think I agreed with most of your opinions on this film, except that I liked Jake’s appeal in the film. No, he’s not Johnny Depp, but actually, I think that’s a good thing, here. He’s a focus to the plot, but not a narrative black hole like Jack Sparrow was. For me, Jack’s character was so vivid, so delineated, so…really, overpoweringly odd, that he stole focus from every other one of the characters in Pirates, and so, though I remember his performance positively, I don’t feel that way about Pirates as a film. I didn’t feel the need to see the sequel.

    BTW, I know I’m in the minority on this front…but I’m used to that position…I keep lobbying for Salman Khan to keep his shirt on more often, but does he listen???

    • Jenny,

      I guess I phrased my sentences wrongly, which gave u the impression that I don’t like the appeal of Jake in this film. I do! And that’s why I said I was stuck by Jake’s performance. And I couldn’t agree with you more when you say that Jake is a “focus to the plot, but not a narrative black hole (narrative black hole! Wow! where did u get this phrase? I love it!) like Jack Sparrow.” But what I meant was maybe Dastan will not be able to make POP as big a hit as Jack Sparrow was able to make POTC.

      Having said that, both Dastan and Sparrow are vastly different characters in vastly different movies and settings. So it’s really pointless to compare the two. Both have served their purposes well in their respective movies.

      And as for Salman, well, I’ll allow hom to show off whatever he can above his waist (ladies may not mind below the waist too!). Off late, he doesn’t have anything else to show off, least of all his acting skills. 🙂

      And thanks a lot for the comment!

  2. Well nice review…i have watched the movie and while reading this review i can visualise the movie again… so good going man..

  3. Hello, I love your website. This is a good site and I wanted to post a note to let you know, nice job! Thanks kim

  4. I have arrived to my decision that your headline “movie review: prince of persia” is just good, other people should take it from you..

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