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Review: Prince of Persia Steals Your Time

Title: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Studio:  Walt Disney
Director: Mike Newell
Actors: Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley, Alfred Molina, Richard Coyle

Ever wonder what would happen if you crossed Aladdin with The Mummy? No? Not even once? Hmm. Well, apparently somebody at Disney did.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is Disney’s squeaky-clean adventure based on Ubisoft’s popular Prince of Persia series. Starring Jake “I really couldn’t be whiter” Gyllenhaal as the Iranian prince, the plot reasonably mirrors the storyline from the game of the same name. There are some departures from the game of course, but let’s be honest: the majority of people going to watch this probably don’t even know it’s based on a video game let alone demand that it match up pixel for pixel.

Dastan is a child living in the streets who one day, publicly saves another kid from the abuse of some jerk in the marketplace. The king just so happens to be in the crowd, and watching his heroic act (and cool parkour sequence), decides to adopt the boy based on this single gesture of nobility (and nimble rooftop-jumping). Not a bad deal for little Aladdin, er, Dastan.

Anyway, fast-forward about twenty years or so, and Dastan and the royal army are invading a city which may be providing weapons to a foreign enemy. More parkour sequences later, Dastan invades, receives a magic, time-controlling knife, gets framed for something, and then begins some sort of quest to clear his name and prevent the end of the world…with parkour sequences.

Honestly, the plot doesn’t really matter in this kind of movie. Don’t get me wrong, I think all movies regardless of genre should have a solid storyline with well-rounded characters and sharp dialogue, but..*shrugs*..it’s blockbuster movie season. Just make some stuff go boom and let’s call it a day.

Sarcasm aside, audiences usually don’t expect much from these kinds of summery, action-heavy movies, and their low expectations are typically met accordingly. Every other scene in Prince of Persia is some sort of elaborate action set piece and the story is merely a thin device to tie them all together. As mentioned, it loosely brings to mind The Mummy in its overall tone and love of computer effects over three dimensional characters. Plus all the sand.

The humour as well is quite Disney-esque, side-stepping anything witty or potentially offensive and opting for light, quirky, situational humour that is sure to offend no one (or entertain, for that matter). All I’m saying is, you’d better find ostrich races fucking hilarious.

But for all my lowered expectations heading into the film, it wasn’t quite as horrible as I thought it might be – which, perhaps doesn’t exactly drip of confidence, but it’s probably the best you could expect for a shallow, special effect-driven movie about flipping in the desert with your magic knife.

The effects were pretty decent and many of the sequences captured the feel of the game quite well. Sure, there’s nothing close to character development in this movie, but guys and gals both get some eye candy to ogle for the run-time, and sometimes, that’s all you’re looking for in an action movie. Well, that and action.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is not a very good movie nor is it something that will dominate the summer box office, but it is a harmless and decent enough action movie for fans of The Mummy series. If that’s you, then you should be in for a pretty fun ride.

But Disney, just a suggestion for the inevitable sequel to Prince of Persia. Maybe you could actually cast a Persian. Just a thought.

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