Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time (2010)

Rating: **
Release Date: 5/28/10
Producer: Jerry Bruckheimer
Music: Harry Gregson-Williams
Parkour Coordinator: David Belle
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley, Alfred Molina

As far as video game adaptations go, this one is better than most because it's actually based on events in the game. What a novel idea. Of course, numerous liberties were taken (no sand demons) and the main characters were removed and rewritten (what happened to Farah?), but the basic plot elements remain intact (which is a hell of a lot more than most game adaptations can claim). The Persian army attacks the holy city of Alamut in search of non-existent weapons of mass destruction, which is just a convenient excuse to plunder the city and steal the mystical Dagger Of Time. Ultimately, Prince Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal) finds himself with the dagger and on the run from a crime he didn't commit. Forming an uneasy alliance with Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton), he seeks to clear his name and reveal the mystery of the Sands Of Time. But it won't be easy, because everyone wants him dead.

Unfortunately, the film is a mess. It's loud and flashy, and while it's pretty to look at, the dialog is atrocious and the action scenes are horribly edited. What's the best way to ruin an action scene? With bad cinematography and editing. It's been a while since I've seen an action film butchered this badly, and when I saw that the second unit director was Alexander Witt, it all made sense. I guess there's something to be said for consistency. The most unfortunate thing is that "Prince Of Persia" is a very physical film, and while David Belle's parkour choreography is full of brilliance, energy, and grace, it's edited so horribly that all you get is frantic cuts of bodies flailing about. What a sad waste of talent. Here's an idea - why not try pointing the camera AT the action instead of jerking it around all over the place? Just a thought... Speaking of David Belle, he would have been an excellent choice to play the prince, but I'm sure the Hollywood bean counters would have considered that too risky. Jake Gyllenhaal is in great shape and does a lot of his own stunts, and while his physical performance is impressive, his wooden delivery and awful hair are both unconvincing. I'm not a fan of Gemma Arterton and I don't find her to be attractive, but she manages to pull off a very disdainful glare in this film, which I found rather enjoyable. The visual effects are quite good, but like the rest of the film, they tend to favor outrageousness over subtlety. I found the best part of the movie to be the musical score, which is very reminiscent of Jerry Goldsmith's bold and sweeping work on "The Mummy" (1999). Good stuff. Overall, the film is laughable in its execution and pretty much instantly forgettable. It definitely has the teen and pre-teen audience in mind, and plays to that mentality.