Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time - Cinema Review

'forget what we said about it not being videogame-like - everyone here may as well be a CGI creation'

Videogame adaptations. Resident Evil. Mortal Kombat. Street Fighter. Super Mario Bros. Not great are they? Nor is their plight aided by the fact that they seem to aim directly for mediocrity. I mean, what were the makers of Mario Bros. thinking, casting Bob Hoskins? How did Street Fighter's producers justify its shamelessly low budget sets and Seagal-esque aesthetic? It's difficult to know. But maybe, just maybe, there's a saviour on the rather sandy horizon in Prince Of Persia: Sands Of Time, a big budget adaptation with proper actors and Bruckheimer backing.

Initially, on a surface level, the signs are good. If videogames are ever going to be adapted satisfactorily they need a proper plot, not some approximation of the 'go here, get that, kill him' structure of a game. They also need people with wider appeal and more talent than someone who just happens to resemble an obese plumber. Prince Of Persia has both of these things in a plot which mixes the mystical with royal intrigue and a good old love story, all brought together by the star trio of Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton and Ben Kingsley. It bodes well. At least... it does until the film starts.

Because what you actually get with Prince Of Persia is something which most approaches a poor and rather campy Saturday morning series from the fifties (think The Lone Ranger). From the very start, dialogue is split 50/50 between plot exposition and 'funny' one-liners and we'll tell you now, the one-liners aren't funny. What you're left with is a weighty plot, completely devoid of charisma or charm which pauses literally every five minutes for someone to explain what's going on, who they are or why they need to get where they're heading. Forget what we said about it not being videogame-like - everyone here may as well be a CGI creation.

And, unfortunately, neither Gyllenhaal nor Arterton can be excluded from that summary. They're both serviceable sure but they're also as flat as a Persian pancake, lacking the life or vigour that both their characters (so says someone expositing at some point) are apparently blessed with. Kingsley is as reliable as ever but in all this flatness he somehow feels out of place, ditto Alfred Molina's supporting role, which provides a few lighter moments but feels like a clown cameoing at a funeral.

It's left to the action to save it from complete obscurity and some well crafted scary gentlemen in black do just about do that but even here, the film is hampered by uninspired direction from Mike Newell and confusing editing which destroys the choreography.

It's no surprise that the film looks set to have to face claims of 'white washing'. This is a film made by a Hollywood with its head in a bygone age, out of touch with punters and seemingly ignorant on multiple levels.

Look further...

'A highly entertaining blockbuster which pays enough respect to the game it originated from' - Great Expectations, 4/5


  1. Donnie Darko. I will see it.

  2. Let me know what you think. I hated it - came close to 1*.