Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

I always want to write more movie reviews here and I’m not sure why I never do. The last one I wrote was almost six months ago, and that was only because the movie made me so mad I just had to vent about it. I’ve seen quite a few movies I could definitely talk about, so I don’t get why I don’t. I know there are literally tens of people out there wondering what I thought of The Losers who still have no definitive answer.

For Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time there really was no excuse not to write about it since it’s a video game movie as well. I had to say something about this one. So here is me saying something – Prince of Persia is a far better movie than you would ever expect.

Not convinced? Then read on non-believer.

Video game movies get a bad rap, and it’s usually justified. Do I agree with the common notion that all video game movies suck? I do not. There are a few that I genuinely enjoy (the first Mortal Kombat, the first Resident Evil,Silent Hill) and some I found at least watchable (Hitman, Max Payne). Generally though, video game movies tend to earn their piss-poor reputation.

The filmmakers behind Prince of Persia said they wanted to change all that. They wanted to shift people’s perspective on what video games could be. Did they succeed? Well I’m not sure they’re going to shatter people’s view on video game movies, but they did succeed in making one of the best video game movies we’ve seen to date.

Prince of Persia manages to both stay true to the game it’s based on, and stand alone as a completely separate product. That’s the way a video game movie should be done. You want the fans to be happy, but also ensure outsiders can enjoy it as well. Prince handles that well I found. Someone who knows the games can definitely look at this and say “Yep, that’s a Prince of Persia movie”, while someone who knows nothing about the games could see it and really have no idea it’s even based on a game. It’s a fine balance.

The story, as expected, is based off the Sands of Time game. They do of course take some liberties with it, and although it would have been pretty funny to have the whole movie told in flashback with Jake Gyllenhall constantly saying “That’s not what happened” when his character died, they decided to go a different route with this one. Overall it was maybe for the best.

The story is, almost surprisingly, pretty solid. It actually throws a couple of surprises at you and does a good job of handling a large amount of exposition. It keeps things moving at a decent pace and I can’t recall a single section where everything started to drag. That all being said it’s certainly not a story you will be talking about once the movie is over. It won’t blow your mind, but it is well told and treats the source material with respect.

A lot of people were down on ole Jakey when he got cast as the Prince, some of that even coming from me. He actually does a pretty good job here though. He handles the action well, when he’s not a CGI creation anyway, and actually does a decent job with the accent too.

The supporting cast is a little hit and miss. Gemma Arterton doesn’t get a whole lot to do as the Princess, and the banter between her and Jake never quite has the amount of chemistry/spark that it needs. Ben Kingsley is also short changed and doesn’t get much to do. We have to rely on his eye-liner to let us know he might be up to something. Alfred Molina is the definite highlight of the supporting characters, playing a man who rails against taxes and the government and helps run ostrich races. He essentially serves as the comedy relief but he crafts an enjoyable character who I personally am interested in seeing more of.

The action is solid, although true to the game the parkour stuff is more interesting than the combat sequences. I really do wish there had been more focus on the parkour element. If there is a sequel (and that subtitle shows the filmmakers really hope there is) that would be my main request – more of the Prince running and jumping on shit. Also worth mentioning, there is a pretty cool shout out to the game near the beginning that I greatly enjoyed. It’s just subtle enough that it worked. I won’t say what it is here because it’s a cool little moment when you realize that’s what they’re doing.

Something else I should mention is this is a really good looking movie. The sets, the costumes, the locations, everything. As I said earlier there are a couple of shots where it’s clearly a CG prince, but I was actually really impressed with just how much of an epic feel this movie had.

In the end I quite enjoyed Prince of Persia. Sure there are critiques, but it’s just a lot of fun to watch. However it’s fun without being really really stupid. Fans of the game should enjoy, but I would almost recommend it more to non-fans. They won’t get hung up on “Well in the game it’s actually blah blah blah” and can just enjoy it for what it is – a fun summer blockbuster that actually seems to be trying.

Oh for those who actually have been waiting – The Losers wasn’t that good.