D: Mike Newell
W: Jordan Mechner, Boaz Yakin, Doug Miro, Carlo Bernard
C: Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley, Alfred Molina, Toby Kebbell, Richard Coyle, etc.
Oh no, another film based on a video game! So what's different this time around? Well I thought that the involvement of Jerry Bruckheimer, Jordan Mechner, Mike Newell, Harry Gregson-Williams and lets face it, a pretty good cast, would get the job done. Not to mention the whopping 150 million dollars that were thrown at it. I was rooting for this film, sincerely, and I even shared some of Chesty Jake's enthusiasm for the project, but I can't say that this achieved a new level of excellence in game-to-film adaptations. At least not where it matters. It's not something inconceivable though, to turn a video game into a good or even a great film. It's just that the studio heads aren't exactly getting it, at least not yet, other than seeing it as a way to earn a quick buck with the least amount of effort. $150 million is not taking it lightly though, cos that's a pretty serious investment right there, setting a new record for these things. With Jake Gyllenhaal though, they'll at least break even with the worldwide gross, even though the brand awareness isn't exactly on the level of Halo, Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto.
In this case though, they've at least made an effort and considering how these things usually turn out to be, that's commendable. Don't expect production value, cinematography and direction on the level of Gladiator or Kingdom of Heaven though, cos you'll be disappointed. It's somewhere between Alexander and Troy, but in a parallel universe, if that makes any sense. Prince of Persia makes you want to return to these films and I mean that in the nicest way. The Sands of Time takes the fast-paced action approach to an adventure movie, with all the visual effects you'd expect and naturally there's a lot of slow-motion sequences spread pretty much everywhere.
The main character in this film is actually none of the one's played by an actor, it's the damn dagger. The Dagger of Time. This item serves as a storyteller's God mode if you will, cos you can pretty much do whatever the fuck you want and get away with it. This is where the pacing comes into play, cos whatever explanation is given, you won't bother thinking too much about it...hey look at that bird over there. Lot of fancy titles are thrown about and you don't really care what does what and what are the consequences. The film needs to move along quickly, otherwise people might notice the flaws. I was actually surprised by this aspect, cos not once I felt genuinely bored, so I guess that's good. The pacing is made clear from the get-go, cos the film throws you right into a conflict that you couldn't care less about. It took me a good 10-15 minutes to get into the groove of it and actually focus on what was being said, cos up until that point I was completely indifferent to what was happening on the screen. Putting all your eggs into one basket doesn't usually bode well to the story; the dagger determines pretty much everything.
This film desperately wants to be funny and tap into the territory that Indiana Jones is very comfortable in. The stakes are obviously different for these characters, so the comparison isn't exactly fair, but the more light-hearted moments of Prince of Persia are trying to capture the male-female dynamic that was so well done in the Indiana Jones trilogy. Btw, Alfred Molina played Satipo in Raiders of the Lost Ark. The National Treasure films have tried to do the same, but both ultimately fail at that, PoP especially.
While the cast is good, most of the actors are unable to give a lasting impression. A sad waste of resources if you ask me. Ben Kingsley and Alfred Molina are very capable craftsmen, but the script doesn't provide enough to build on. Even rising star Toby Kebbell, who replaced an actor on location due to an accident, is severely underused. The guy's got talent, anyone who's seen Wilderness or RocknRolla can agree to that. He comes off as some random brute in this film, which is a shame. Jake Gyllenhaal's British accent is pretty decent imo, considering how most Americans butcher it, and I was surprised by that, since the trailer suggested the opposite. Gemma Arterton, believe it or not, does the best job with what she's got. She seems to be able to get teary-eyed as if on command, several times, and all in all she comes off as relatively sincere as Princess Tamina. Gyllenhaal's contribution is mostly physical though and you can see Chesty Jake has done some serious training for this film, combat wise. Alfred Molina plays a pathetic fool named Sheik Amar (forgettable, sadly), who serves as comic relief and Kingsley's Nizam is depressingly cold and emotionless, most of the time anyway.
Harry Gregson-Williams is nowhere to be found, cos as soon as you leave the theater, you won't remember a single note from the soundtrack. I had higher hopes for his score, considering what the man has done for the Scott brothers. Same can be said for Newell's direction. The film skips from one place to the next one, as if ticking off story points on a list and it's in a serious rush. While the editing and pacing keeps you relatively interested throughout the film, it's there for other reasons. The visual effects, fight scenes and action sequences are impressive, but not impressive enough to turn a blind eye on everything else. Nizam is one of the most obvious villains in recent years, lay your eyes on him once and it's done. He even resembles Jafar from Aladdin. The not-so-subtle political commentary is adorable. The dagger removes from the sense of urgency, so the game's main mechanic does a big disservice to the plot, in this particular form. All in all, the film is worth it for the fans of the franchise and a rental if you want to watch it with friends. It's a decent action film, but personally I found more enjoyment in Indiana Jones IV and Troy. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time definitely ranks in the Top 5 game-to-film adaptations, for what it's worth.