Review: Prince of Persia
JESS STEWART and ROSE HILLS: “Prince of Persia: the Sands of Time’ is Disney’s latest outing, jumping on the big-budget, action-fuelled, perhaps-hinting-at-a-moral-message whilst simultaneously parading leather-clad Hollywood flesh bandwagon.’
Directed by Mike Newell.
As we walked into the cinema, the atmosphere was immediately established by the middle-aged man covertly masturbating under a pulsating denim jacket. Sadly, it turns out he didn’t have too much to be excited about.
‘Prince of Persia: the Sands of Time’ is Disney’s latest outing, jumping on the big-budget, action-fuelled, perhaps-hinting-at-a-moral-message whilst simultaneously parading leather-clad Hollywood flesh bandwagon. The narrative follows the rise of young orphan Dastan, played with a questionable accent by Jake Gyllenhaal, who is adopted into the Persian royal household by the king and raised as prince (hence the title). After he is accused of murdering his father, Dastan flees to the desert, accompanied by feisty Princess Tamina – played by Gemma Arterton in a remarkably vibrant shade of orange. As Dastan uncovers a plot threatening to destroy humanity, he and Ms Tango fight for the possession of a magically endowed dagger, eventually joining forces to overcome the ensuing Armageddon.
As one might expect from a film based upon a video game, the plot is, at best, hardly riveting, and the plot twists are about as surprising as the revelation that your male hairdresser is gay. On the plus side, the film imitates the action of the game remarkably well, and Mike Newell delivers pulse-raising action scenes with gusto enough to keep us entertained for the most part. As Dastan flies across rooftops and shimmies down ropes we can almost envisage the transition from game to film, and it’s in these moments that Newell lives up to his adventurous credentials. It’s when the fighting ends and the dialogue begins, however, that he seems to lose his way – without the net of the game’s swords and back-flips to fall back on, Newell seems more than a little lost.
The overall attempt at Eastern mysticism was about as convincing as night out at Fez; a feeling of déjà vu only heightened by the presence of Gemma Arterton, whose alarmingly orange hue and generous eyeliner would have blended in beautifully with the regulars of the afore-mentioned middle-eastern oasis of Cambridge – begging the question of why the film did not simply cast an actress of suitable ethnicity. Similarly, Gyllenhaal’s greasy locks were far better suited to the smoking alleyway outside Fez than to a prince. Despite their slightly disconcerting appearances, the two put in a decent effort on both accounts, with Arterton surprisingly convincing as the saucy Princess who is more than a match for her male counterparts. The problems arise in their distinct lack of charisma with each other; throughout the film we were plagued by a sneaky suspicion that Heath Ledger would certainly have upped the film’s non-existent sexual tension, alluded to in the painfully clunky banter of the two protagonists.
Luckily, Alfred Molina’s turn as Sheik Amar steals the show with his herd of ostriches and string of witty observations, whilst Ben Kingsley makes a convincing case for the the direct correlation between guyliner and evilness. But, in the end, they can’t quite save the film from its failed status as game-turned-movie. It’s a fun romp, but ultimately devoid of any convincing substance.