Actors: Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley, Alfred Molina, Steve Toussaint
Director: Mike Newell
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Walt Disney Video
DVD Release Date: September 14, 2010
Run Time: 116 minutes
The popular video game series Prince of Persia gets the Hollywood treatment in this movie version starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley, and Alfred Molina. Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and directed by Mike Newell, this story of the young orphan boy adopted as a prince of ancient Persia has all the excitement of the “Sands of Time” edition of the game on which it is based, plus a little bit of plotline twist that is rare in movies of this genre.
In the story, the Prince Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal) discovers, during the course of battle, an odd dagger. Subsequent encounters teach him that this dagger has the ability to stop time for up to a minute. But he is not the only one who knows of the dagger. When Dastan is framed for his father’s murder, he flees with the dagger and the Princess Tamina, the dagger’s protector. They subsequently get into any number of scrapes and troubles while falling in love through a bantering relationship. Dastan and Tamina must find out who the real murderer is, and save the world from the destruction unleashing the full power of the dagger would do.
The acting is fair. Many viewers will see caricatures from Bruckheimer’s other popular fantasy Pirates of the Caribbean re-appearing this film. Alfred Molina’s character, Sheik Amar, is essentially a slight tweaking of the Captain Jack Sparrow character, and Tamina (Gemma Arterton) is an ancient Persian version of the plucky, no-nonsense, empowered Elizabeth. But though the characters are not original, the actors play them to the hilt. Molina is perfect as the slightly mad, gold-obsessed merchant Sheikh who will do anything for a quick buck. And Arterton’s portrayal of Tamina, who has an antagonistic relationship with Prince Dastan provides most of the humor of the movie, is done well. Arterton’s reminds me of a Rachel Weisz in The Mummy, even to the similar British accents. Gyllenhaal pulls off a British accent well, though some of his smirks made me feel like he was an actor playing a fun role rather than really being Dastan himself.
The movie has an excellent treatment of the relationship between brothers that I’ve only found done well in movies such as Tombstone or Four Brothers. The three princely brothers have both an antagonistic and companionable relationship, reminding me very much of my own three brothers and our growing up. I found this sort of relationship refreshing, and I like that the princes are not completely at odds with each other. The writers captured well the essence of kinship between powerful and individualistic men.
The movie is a really enjoyable epic fantasy romp. There is lots of high adventure, some really neat fight scenes in urban settings, and the movie really captures the game play of the video game version of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time with good cinematography, and having the Dastan character perform the same feats of physical prowess that players were able to make him perform in the game.
Lots of epic adventure and fair acting make this a mindless yet entertaining fantasy film.
The Blu-Ray/DVD version which I viewed also has a couple of nice features. It is actually a 3-disc combo pack. One each for the Blu-Ray version (which also contains 40 different segments on the making of the movie and a deleted scene in which Garsiv presents heads); the DVD, which has a making of the movie; and a digital copy of the movie which you can put on your computer, use with iTunes and Windows Media Player , and take anywhere. Additionally, this Disney edition includes a code that allows the viewer to watch this movie on any computer through the web, an includes information on how to turn your Disney DVD’s into Blu-Ray versions by saving $8 on a purchase of the newer (and better!) version of the movie.
I highly recommend these combo packs for movie viewers like me, who are somewhat savvy in technology, like having multiple versions, but who also don’t want to find out how to make digital versions with rippers and the like. Disney is acknowledging the changing state of how we view movies, while still making them available for all the different types of users, as well as allowing me to use a movie I purchase the way I would like without also forcing me to break copyright law to do it.