‘Prince of Persia’ Film Review: Just when you thought….

As an avid gamer and fan of the original ‘Prince of Persia: Sands of Time‘ (the best in the Prince of Persia videogame trilogy from 2003 to 2005) I was excited about the prospects of a movie-adaptation of the same. And the fact that it wasn’t going to get the Uwe-Boll-treatment.

Instead, it was a major studio Walt Disney financing it with one of the most successful producers in Hollywood — Jerry Bruckheimer (“Armageddon,” “Pirates of the Carribean,” “C.S.I”). Mike Newell (“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” “Four Weddings and a Funeral“) was chosen to direct and a good actor was brought in to play the Prince.

Finally, there was hope for a good movie based on a videogame. What could go wrong, right?

Prince of Persia movie posterBut despite the $200 million budget and the serious talent behind the film, all hopes were dimmed. Once again.

Even 15 minutes into the film, the plot fails to draw you in. I knew the story and the characters because of the videogame, but all I kept getting distracted by were things that were going wrong on-screen.

Some of the sets looked cheap, the acting was tacky, too close on the action, Persians speaking with a British accent and the choppy screenplay. There were moments when one scene moved on to the next without a proper transition (or a rushed transition) — and that killed any attempt to evoke a sense of emotion.

Yes, I know this movie wasn’t going to be film-festival material but I wasn’t expecting it to be. I was expecting it to be as fun as “The Mummy” (1999) — only it wasn’t. You know you failed at a special-effects laden fantasy action-adventure when the only saving grace was a side character. That character being Alfred Molina’s role as an ostrich racing-organizer.  He provided the comic relief and sadly, the only bit of true entertainment in the film.

Ben Kingsley, as great an actor he is, played just another easy paycheck-role while Gemma Arteton wasn’t (in my opinion) the right choice to play a princess whose beauty was “that of legends”. Then again, I could bring up Americans and Brits playing Persians… but I won’t.

Prince of Persia Jake Gyllenhaal Dastan
Left: The Prince from the Ubisoft game; Right: Jake Gyllenhaal's chest

As for Jake Gyllenhaal, while there was lot of “Wuh? Him?!” on websites I frequent, he’s a likeable actor and did the best he could for this role. This being his first major big-budget film, he’s not to blame if critics find fault in his character.

If you are going in expecting an all out CGI blockbuster, don’t waste your money. Most (if not all) of the pretty CGI sequences were used in the trailers.

The action direction was very poor as well. One of the great features of the Prince of Persia games was the agility of the Prince. His acrobatic skills made for fun gameplay and his wall run was a signature move of the franchise! How long did the only wall run in this movie last? 2 seconds.

This was the problem. I really felt this movie could have been better with some young blood at the helm. The action sequences felt more Lord of the Rings-like when it should have been all CGI-infused over-the-top fun.

Another aspect of the original video game (and one of the best elements) was the banter between the Prince and the female character, Farah. It was truly a fine example of character interaction in a video game, one that stands memorable even to this day.

Prince of Persia Farah
'Farah' was replaced by 'Tamina' in the film

While they did try to re-create that magic between Jake and Gemma’s character, the latter got a bit annoying after a while — which was not the case in the video game. Funny how a script was better handled by writers behind a video game than a Hollywood film.

After being disappointed by ‘Max Payne,’ ‘Hitman’ and ‘Silent Hill,’ I was really hoping ‘Prince of Persia’ would change the sands of time in videogames being adapted into movies. Unfortunately, we still have to wait for that day.

I haven’t given up hope yet. There’s still ‘Kane & Lynch‘ with Bruce Willis and Jamie Foxx out next year, adaptations of Uncharted and Mass Effect being planned… but I feel they’re still not as videogame-y as the Prince of Persia franchise was. Their storylines have been used films for years now. Video games offer escapism to a whole new degree of zany. That is why Metal Gear Solid works only as a video game (or if it were an anime). (Speaking of MGS, where’s that movie?)

Despite how this film turned out, I hope it makes a profit good enough for Disney to greenlight a sequel. ‘Silent Hill’ is (finally) getting a sequel (the only I hated about the first was the terrible acting, they still got look and vibe of the game right), so is ‘Hitman’ — and I hope Prince of Persia gets one too.

My final rating: 2.5 out of 5 (only because there were cheeky references to the videogame like zooming around the environment before the action begins). Otherwise a 2/5.

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One Comments

  • roclafamilia


    Helpful blog, bookmarked the website with hopes to read more!

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