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