Despite their uniformly shit past, I quite like the idea of films based on video games. With fantastic space epic Mass Effect being the latest to have the movie rights snapped up, it’s not a trend that’s going to slow down for a while yet. Anyway, as a fan of the source material- that is the PS2 reboot The Sands of Time, not the original 2D Apple II game, I thought I’d check the film.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)
I must admit, Jake Gyllenhaal is an odd choice for a beefcake hero. He’s a good actor, but surely a bit too wet to be an action lead? Still, I thought that of Matt Damon before his turn as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Identity, so I was open to being wrong. I liked the idea of the setting too. Thank fuck we are in a time before guns, cars and Justin Bieber*. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty goshdarn fed up of supposedly epic shootouts and car chases. They just all blur into one these days. Enough of this tangential nonsense- Prince of Persia time.
“The gods have a plan for you. A destiny.”
Former street urchin, now adopted Prince, Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal) is framed for his father’s murder. Dastan has no option but to flee with beautiful Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton) and somehow clear his name. On his travels, he learns that Tamina possesses a mysterious dagger that can rewind time. A dagger that every crook and ne’er-do-well wants to get their evil hands on. The plot is pretty basic with most of the twists and turns guessable from a bus ride away. The rewinding time gimmick works well though, adding some intrigue and unpredictability to the cookie-cutter plot. Gyllenhaal is pretty good as Dastan, although he’s still a bit too much of a simpering fop at times for me to fully buy him as a ripped badass. The name “Dastan” bugged me a bit as well, if only for its similarity to the lead in this woeful film. Gemma Arterton doesn’t do much outside of being attractive and could have quite easily blundered in from the set of Clash of the Titans without even needing a wardrobe change. Sir Ben Kingsley-Fossington-Smythe III didn’t have to do much either. He was just The Hood from the megacockflop Thunderbirds film with heavier eye make-up.
I realise that in a film like this, the plot is only there to connect the big money action sequences. However, stop me if this sounds familiar: A rich, powerful nation attacks another nation on the basis that they have hidden weapon production facilities. When the powerful nation invades, there are no weapons to be found. Yes, it’s the old WMD plot again, reworked to take place in ancient Persia. I’m getting so fucking sick of throwaway, popcorn films trying to make themselves “relevant” by ripping from recent headlines. I go to the cinema to escape the depressing reality of daily life, not to be reminded of it. It’s taking real world events and fictionalising them in such a way that even our own recent history feels unreal. It’s enough to make me go and get the movement and communication lobes of my brain pierced until I’m in a drooling stupor in the corner, mostly silent except for occasionally giggling at my own farts. Even dribbling ignorance is bliss.
“I’ve seen it’s power with my own eyes. Releasing the sand turns back time. Only the holder of the Dagger is aware what’s happened.”
Speaking of the big money action sequences, of course they’re impressive. There’s a frenetic chase across the Persian rooftops and some decent sword fighting to look forward to. I felt that the ostrich race was a step too far, but all in all the action bits were decent. The ending sequence is CGI’d to within an inch of its life, but it doesn’t spoil the rest of it too much. I also must applaud the fact the film isn’t in 3D- it is sadly a rare thing to watch a blockbuster without having to wear those retarded glasses. Still, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is enjoyable. It’s your average big action film with a Persian flavour- and there’s nowt wrong with that.