Prince of Persia Review

Published 5 years ago by , Updated June 3rd, 2010 at 7:16 pm,

prince of persia review Prince of Persia Review
Screen Rant’s Vic Holtreman reviews Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

My usual video game-based movie disclaimer: I know nothing about the game – I’ve never even seen it, so this review will be based on the movie only.

In Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Jake Gyllenhaal plays Dastan, an adopted prince who was taken in by the King of Persia when he was a young boy. He has two royal brothers (blood sons of the King) who are obviously nobility – Dastan, however has never shaken his roguish, street-wise roots and is a favorite of the citizens… going out mixing it up and fighting for fun.

While the king is away, his brother Nizam (Ben Kingsley) convinces the brothers that the city of Alamut is supplying weapons to their enemy. The problem is that Alamut is considered a holy city, even revered, so it doesn’t make sense. There are doubts among the brothers and Dastan counsels against it, but the oldest decides to invade. It is, of course, completely obvious that this is a setup and that Alamut is innocent.

The city is invaded and conquered, in large part thanks to Dastan and his ragtag team of bandit friends. There they come across Princess Tamina (played by the gorgeous Gemma Arterton). She is the guardian of a knife, the Dagger of Time, which unbeknownst to Dastan has mystical powers. He takes it from her and when circumstances cause them both to go on the run she spends the rest of her time trying to get it back and get away from him. Aside from its power to turn back time, the dagger can unleash the “Sands of Time” which can destroy the world.

Along the way they meet Sheik Amar (I use the term “Sheik” very loosely) – played by Alfred Molina. He’s the best thing in the film and very funny as the “entrepreneur” who is opposed to government taxes and regulations. We also meet the deadly Hassansin, who are a group of highly trained (and creepy) assassins during Dastan and Tamina’s journey to safeguard the dagger.

On the down side, Prince of Persia is chock full of corny dialog, humor that more often than not doesn’t work and an ending that uses the worst possible plot device to allow the good guys to win.

On the plus side, the film has plenty of action, the highlight of which are the Parkour stunts throughout the film performed by Gyllenhaal much (if not most) of the time. He does a decent job of playing the charming rogue and Gemma is certainly easy on the eyes, with an almost otherworldly beauty. Audiences just looking for a fun popcorn movie that the entire family can watch will probably enjoy it. I would say any kids except the littlest ones (6 and under or so) would be OK with the film, which while almost completely bloodless can be quite violent and the Hassansin are pretty creepy.

Overall, I’d call Prince of Persia… harmless fun. Nothing memorable, nothing you’d want to see more than once, but if you want to take the kids to a live action action film besides Iron Man 2, it’s worth a watch.

[poll id="46"]

If you want to discuss the movie after you’ve seen it without worrying about spoiling it for others, head over to ourĀ Prince of Persia Spoilers Discussion.

Our Rating:

2.5 out of 5
(Fairly Good)

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  1. I was totally the first person to vote :)

  2. I would definitely say the best game to the movie adaptation in a distant. Jake performance as the Prince can be applauded charming full of trickery. there is some element from the movie are taken directly from the game. I liked they used the Dagger to progress the story rather in the game, is a recurrent act if you make a mistake. Well the ending here is a bit different with the other. Its Disney they have to make happier well the other in a bit of mystery. Well as the fan of the games I enjoyed it a swashbuckling adventure, great sweeping cinematography & great all round cast.

    Probably some might hate me saying this; Its more enjoyable than avatar both linear stories, but maybe PoP pacing is better.

    • i don’t agree with disny movies always having a happy ending look at piraits of the cribean the second movie jack sperow dies
      doesnt sound like a happy ending to me

      • They killed him off with the intention of bringing him back, so I’m not sure you can really count that.

  3. Agian,I am not surprised by Alfred Molina’s performance. He makes just about every movie he’s in 10 times better, what a highly underrated actor who well deserves more accalades.

  4. Well being based on a video game made it unlikely it would be good so I didn’t have high hopes. Those hopes were lowered more by the casting. Jake is a decent actor but PoP he is not. I had planned to give it a dollar theater go but this review seals the deal I won’t be watching it at all. Save 2 hours of my life for something worth my time. As if the star rating and body of the review were not bad enough the line that seals the deal for me is “harmless fun” nearly every movie with that label is crap that can be thrown in the trash heap along with the likes of Transformers or just about any M. Bay movie.

  5. I hit 3, but I’d rather give it 2 and a half stars. It was… enjoyable. But Mike Newall doesn’t know how to direct action, at least with the fighting scenes. Forgetting the game, the movie almost tried to make out as if the Prince is an amazing fighter, but all the shots are too tight and closely cut for us to get an idea of what’s happening. I know, it’s a movie, the actors aren’t natural fighters, maybe Newell had to cut something together from whatever he had after filming was a bust, but I’d have preferred at least one continuous, wide shot of the Prince fighting at least one person. Is that too much to ask?

    Otherwise, yes, the plot was weak and the dialogue cheesy, but, overall I sort of liked it as a fun little escapist fantasy film.

  6. Just one question…Is this worth seeing in theaters? Help me out guys

    • Its worth it.

  7. btw…Does anyone else have happy thoughts of seeing Donnie Darko being the master of time?

  8. I it really that bad!?

    • If it was THAT bad I would have given it a lower score. Although I’ll say I was kind of generous because I’m thinking about who’s likely to see the film.


      • You know Vic, I really respect your reviews and I wouldn’t bother to argue with it, but please for my sake and for the sake of others- please give it a three star at least so that I could have feel good about seeing it :-)… please, cause a 2.5, wow! Could it really be that bad?

        • 2.5 is dead center, middle of the road, neutral. Exactly half way between 0 and 5. :)


          • If it were me I would have gone 1 star higher. Best video adaptation to date IMHO.

            • MK1 still has the top spot for me, but this would be in the top 5 or 10. God the dialogue was just horrible.

            • I saw it with a friend and he said that the stunts looked move for move out of the video game (which I have never played). He liked it a little more than me for that fact alone.

              I enjoyed the Parkour stunts greatly but had nothing to compare them to. I gave it a 2.5 and he gave it a 3.

          • The inflation in reviewer’s grades makes too many people think anything below a 3 or 4 (on a 5-grade scale) is bad.
            2 1/2 is, as you point out, dead centre and just means it’s an “OK” movie.
            Anyways, since grading films are very subjective, one should not pay too much attention to the grade given, but rather the review itself.

            • Amen to that – well said.

          • Took my sister and niece to see it yesterday. They gave it 2 stars. I thought 3 only because as I was watching I kept asking myself could I recommend this move to someone who had an 8 year old grandson? I have a few friends who do. From that stand point I thought it was worth a 1/2 star more, maybe 1 depending on whether or not you enjoy taking younguns to the movies that you want to get some entertainment from too.

  9. Vic

    I highly respect your opinion but this time I have to disagree with you. I will say that I did play the original games (there were 4 in total I think) and so I’m more familiar with the back-story, at least of the first one, and so the Plot Device used in the end does not come across the same way as it would used in any other film.

    I thought the banter between the 2 leads was great but then again I like the sarcastic back and forth between a lead male and female in a film like this. I thought the stunts by Jake were excellent considering he is an actor and not a stunt man. How many actors these days would be willing to do that kind of stunt work?

    The film gets extra thumbs up for making it thru with little blood as you have already pointed out but then again it is a Disney film.

    I have to give the movie almost 4 stars out of 5 for overall enjoyment.

    • I think that’s sort of Vic’s point, the film should be good enough that it should still be good to people who haven’t played the game. I’ve played all 4 as well (save for the very new one) and to me, while I loved the first game, that ending was a cop-out and the movie was no better. The best I could say is that the movie handled it a little better, in the game there was no indication that plunging the dagger into the sand-glass would rewind time like that, simply that it would get the sands back into the glass, the movie had a little more setup, but in the end it was still a cop-out, it meant the deaths of all those people ultimately meant nothing.

      • Joshi

        Please remeber, no spoilers in this item.

        • Apologies, we’ll continue this in the spoiler thread.

      • Yup, that’s kind of what I was trying to get across in my review.


  10. Sounds like pulpy good fun. What’s not to like?

  11. Still havnt watched it but a body of mine saw it said he would give it a 2/5 and said that might be a little generious. He said he’d have to think about it but it might just barely be the best game film but that’s not saying much considering the best before it wad like 1 star.

  12. OK I was against this movie for two reasons, Jake as the Prince and that video game movies dont turn out well. But this movie was really good, I have played the games before so I can appreciate this film. Saying that the end was a cop out, i dont think so and f there is a sequel like i have heard that there might be it can be fully explained that it was the opposite (i dont want to say some thing that might be a spoiler for the game or movie). It is an enjoyable movie, great acting, everything. I give it a 3.5.

  13. Am I the only person who doesn’t see Gemma Arterton as the godess she’s getting billed as? I mean she is cute but that’s as far as I’d go.

    In the movie there’s a scene where Jakes character lands in a harem of woman and everyone I saw in that scene was far hotter looking then Gemma Arterton

    • No those girls where hot, but Gemma Arterton looked better than them.

    • You must be one blind man, because I think completely opposite. ;)

  14. Saw it yesterday. While watching it, I kept thinking this should be “Prince of England: Sands of Time”, because of all the British accents. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it and would give it 3/5. I thought it was kind of funny that there was more blood in this movie than Woverine (not much blood in this movie though).

  15. Was it worse than Tomb Raider? Because I actually kinda enjoyed that movie. I’ll probably catch this on Netflix, though.

  16. I enjoyed it, and that Gemma; Lord that woman does it for me………..

  17. No matter how many critics review it, no matter how many put it down or up – my opinion is my own – I completely enjoyed it. Nice mix of the mysterious, action, romance, etc. Bravo and nicely done to all who made it so. See if if you want to – I give 4.5 stars!!!

    • oh and one more thing – Gemma, Gemma, Gemma *sigh* What a woman!

  18. Ok look I get that some people may have liked this turf of a film but a 4.5 out of 5 ? Give me a break man. If u like it fine but ur calling it nearly perfect and that’s ridiculious. Ur just inflating ur number to try and ballance how negative everyone else is at least be honest. Also if that is ur honest score I would suggest watching more movies aside from this because clearly it’s the only film u have ever seen if u consider it near perfect.

  19. I enjoyed it more than Clash of titans and wolverine…is that bad? The story dident seem forced for me and I went in with no expectations. A really great summer movie. No substance all filler…pure fun cotton candy.

    And i enjoyed seeing Tony Kebbell aka Johnny Quid From Rock n Rolla, I kept waiting on him to say:

    You wanna watch out: cause I’m gonna be just like you, uncle, Now… I’m gonna be a *real* RocknRolla.

  20. This film was middle of the road summer candy and VERY forgettable, Vic was right on in his review, which I read before going to see the movie, I was pretty sure I’d like it a bit more than he did, but I didn’t. It was a generically “nice” film.

  21. The only problems I had with this film were the dialogue and the close of Gemma’s nasty dragon clawed foot being inked. That thing was HUGE!! Other than that 2.5 is right on the money, it could of been better, a lot better, but i guess after a string of fail video game movies we settle more something mediocre and call it the best adaptation, go figure.

  22. I played the first one on a PC and one of em was on a MEGA-CD which I never completed the game.
    So I watched this movie as a film and not a movie inspired by a videogame.

    It was Ok, enjoyable popcorn not much of a brainer as well !! Althought Jake’s acting is also goofy but I expected this from a Disney movie anyway and from Jake himself, his voice is too soft for a Prince . Alfred Molina is excellent in this film, Ben Kingsley as usual always perfect no more no less, Gemma was Ok, her deep voice and British accent makes her a good choice for a snobby Princess. Although if she had a less deeper voice would have made the character more sexy.

    The camera movements are weird when it comes to showing different sections of the palace and quite useless as it brings nothing more to the story, that would have been more efficient if it was applied on the Prince’s stunt scene, which would have made the action more heroic and spectacular.

  23. making movies about video games is cinematic incest.

  24. I watched it twice and plan to watch it again and waiting for the dvd to be release on the market…i’ll definitely grab one :)) love dastan, he’s charming and perfect for the role…if the highest score is 10 i’ll give this movie a score of 10.5:))juz my opinion ok^_^

  25. The end of this movie is like Next(2007) with Nicolas Cage.
    He get killed then wake up and start all over again!!!

  26. So I know i’ll be hated for this but I went ahead and watched a Downloaded copy of this since I had no intentions of paying to watch it so the film didnt lose any money from me.

    Anyway after viewing and thinking long and hard about it I’ve come to the conclusion that Vic is pretty much spot on with this review I would love to give it higher than a 2.5 because I don’t think a 2.5 is fair however a 3 is to high lol so I’ll round it down to a 2.5 because it’s closest. There were some good things about this film and some bad things. I’ll say this I really didn’t find the girl all that attractive as others have stated every girl in the girl room was much better looking than our main girl however she could act and I doubt they could.

    I honestly believe that what keeps this film from being a 3 is the ending. The happy ending where every thing just works out takes away from the film and at seems as if nothing happened by the time the movie ends. We want on this incredibly strange journey and achieved nothing for the most part.

    After really considering it this is the best video game film yet and had potential to be an actually good film regardless of genre with just a few changes. Jake is a very good actor, but I think he was miscast in this part that along with the ending and one or two of the less than stellar action scenes could of made alot of difference. There was some great stunt work and some horrible actions scenes. All and all the 2.5 is fair, but this movie could of easily been a 3.5 with just a few minor tweeks here and there. All I could think through out this movie was how good it could of been. Almost as if it were held back from it’s true potential. Lets hope this doesn’t ruin our chances of seeing Mass Effect or Heavy Rain the two films that can finally turn it all around for us.

  27. Well I went into the movie with very low expectations (my son wanted to see it is why we went – I didn’t plan to see it on the big screen otherwise).

    I was pleasantly surprised and gave it a ’4′ in your little voting thingy on the side. And I didn’t have a problem with the end personally because it made up for the ‘wtf’ moments leading up to it. Can’t really say what here because of the spoilers.

    Anyway, I think it is a movie worth seeing this summer.

  28. its not the same with the game… most of it did not come from the game… they made it more happy well… for me its nice having some comedy and fun in it…

  29. my only issue was that you keep the “key” turn the device on that can destory the world on top of the device that can destroy the world. That is like having a fire pit in the middle of a newspaper storage warehouse that is made of cardboard. Not really a good idea….

    • Didn’t even think about that, but yes, all this fuss, why not just keep it in the guardian temple from the beginning?