Movie Review: PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME (2010)
This review / rant is utterly Spoilerific, meaning that the entire post is full of spoilers about the film in question. Not that you`re missing anything by not watching the film to begin with.
Here’s the issue I have with movies revolving around Time Travel, perception of the future, or any fictional, mystical and magical device / concept that is able to mess with the fabric of reality: it’s all a ginormous cock-tease. PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME is a movie that does the very same thing that is a complete and utter cop out when it comes to storytelling.
1 out of 5 Unnecessary Plots
The premise of this video game adaptation is basically this: innocent man framed for murder, then hunted by his own kindred while he searches for the true murderer, with a mystical twist. Of course along with the journey is an obligatory hot (debateable) princess. The 5 minute narration in the beginning of a street smart child followed by a ‘— years later’ caption with the next scene, should’ve been an indication of the clichéd and predictable route the movie was going to take… but I’m an optimist.
Coming back to my major issue with PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME, (there were many others to choose from) the mystical bit involves some fable in the film about magical sands that when used with a magical dagger, allows the wielder to go back in time—‘Sands of time’… get it? So we reach the end of the film, everyone but our hero and villain are dead… but guess what?! Gloriously, the Sands of Time allow a weird accented Jake Gyllenhaal to jump back in time to a point 10 minutes into the movie where—armed with the knowledge of how everything will play out in the next 106 minutes of the movie—he is able to prevent any of the bad things, that were the crux of the plot, to ever happen in the first place. So the story has a happy ending, rendering everything we just watched moot and irrelevant.
I CRY FOUL! A story takes place, gets the audience involved, develops characters and relationships, raises the stakes which makes the ending that much more crucial to be able to emotionally resolve all the key elements outlined in the plot; to end that story in a way that dismisses everything that was built during the telling of it, is condescending to the audience and disrespectful of the tale itself. It’s the whole ‘it was all a dream’ concept of storytelling that as a writer I take offense to.
Gyllenhaal played the character with utmost mediocrity, my opinion includes the accent. The horribly cheesy dialogue didn’t work at all though. Ben Kingsley as the king`s brother / our villain —eye liner and all— is absolutely wasted in the role. Richard Coyle as the older prince / future king had more of an impact than any of the other supporting actors. I include in this Alfred Molina as well—who seemed to share the same eye liner loving make up person as Kingsley— in his ironically unfunny attempt at being the movie’s comic relief. But again, with lines like ‘Behold, the mighty Ostrich’, he never stood much of a chance. Gemma Arterton is unpleasing to my eyes. That’s all I’m going to say about that.
The one thing that impressed me in the first half of the film was the action. At first, the realistic and ungimmicky way Gyllenhaal’s character Dastan leaped, pounced and ricocheted off walls and any other surface he could get his feet on, felt natural and flowed with the action taking place. It didn’t feel like an attempt to include video game moves in the film for the sake of whoring out to the Gamers. **cough*DOOM*cough** Also impressive that Brokeback Jake performed majority of his own stunts. I was glad that the CGI was kept to a minimum in the first half. The second half of the film had me biting my tongue as the last few scenes were heavily CGI’d and green screened and even simple movements were slow mo-d for gratuitous effect.
In the end of it all, the story for PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME is brutalized, stabbed and shot while drowning when it ends in a way that dismisses the entire story itself and resolves the main plot point by preventing it from happening in the first place. It’s a lazy attempt at storytelling that insults the intelligence of the audience.