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Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Bruckheimer does it again!
I would've loved to have seen the looks on everyone's face, when Jerry Bruckheimer came in with an idea to produce a film based on a Disney theme ride. Boy, I bet people must thought he was either crazy as heck, or he must have been smoking some very good drugs or something. As I'm sure, not many folks were behind the classic "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" idea. Of course, who's laughing now? I'm sure it's not the same guys who laughed their freaking a**es off before, when Jerry told them about the idea. No, by now, I can imagine those same skeptics are probably the ones kissing Jerry's ingenius rump all the way to the bank off their three billion dollar fortune. You know, the one that the "Pirates of the Caribbean" trilogy generated thus far with another sequel on the way too. Therefore, if there's one producer who knows how to take a lousy idea and turn it into cinematic gold, with bad storytelling be damned, it's this guy. Although does money necessarily mean a film is good?
Seriously, is the amount of money a film makes the only determining factor in how good a movie allegedly is? After all, "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" was a royal piece crap with too many plot holes and mediocre dialogue to boot, yet that movie still made over eight hundred million dollars. Is this what society wants? Are we getting so desperate for entertainment that story telling isn't that important anymore, as long as we have enough cool visual effects to look at? Is this truly what the majority of movie goers want these days? I guess so, from looking at the numbers. However, as much as I hate to disagree with the majority of movie fans, the reality is that money isn't always an indication of how good a movie is. If that were the case, then one could make a strong argument that "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" or "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" should have been nominated for best picture at the Academy, earlier this year. And that films like "A Serious Man" or "An Education" should have been deemed epic failures, where they never should have even been allowed to sniff the possibility of winning an award. However, I will digress, as I'm sure many of you are probably wondering what's my point here.
The simple point I'm trying to make here is this. Regardless of how much money the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise has made thus far, the reality is that each story for each perspective film wasn't that great. In fact, it was sometimes just plain awful. Even most of the acting sucked as we're forced to put up with over acting by Orlando Bloom and leading lady, Keira Knightley. In fact, if it wasn't for the great performance by Johnny Depp, as the unlikely scallywag of the seven seas Jack Sparrow, then "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies would have been just plain terrible. Sadly, there is no Johnny Depp like performance in "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" to save us this time, nor is there a Will Smith to cover up for his costars lack of acting skills (i.e. Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys). Sure, we have a savvy Jake Gyllenhaal, who does try his best to save what could have been one big piece of s***, but it seems he might be way in over his head on this one. However, the amazing visuals you would expect are still there.
Don't get me wrong, "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" was a fairly decent movie for what it was, but I would hardly call it a great film. The movie is based off the classic video game franchise of the same name. As many of you probably know, video game based movies are rarely ever successful at the box office and among critics. Therefore, what kind of chance does this movie have? Well considering how it has Jerry Bruckheimer in it's corner hyping it up, then I wouldn't bet on it being a flop that's for sure. I guess according to Disney's logic since both Bruckheimer and video game based movies usually stink in terms of quality (although Bruckheimer's garbage makes money), that two negatives times each other would equal a positive. You know kind of how they teach it to you in math classes. Works really great in math, but does it work in this movie? Not really, but it's still an entertaining film despite it's flaws.
The story is essentially about a young orphan kid, Dastan living in the streets of Persia, who one day saves his friend from being arrested by palace guards. King Sharaman happens to not only witness Dastan's bravery and heroics, but he's also quite impressed with his great amount of skills and athleticism. Thus, the King adopts Dastan into his royal family, where he grows up to become a fine rebellious but good hearted young man played Jake Gyllenhaal. One would think that the King's own two sons, Garsiv (Toby Kebbell) and Tus (Richard Coyle) might have some problems with having a brother with no royal blood line. Yet surprisingly like their father, they accept Dastan as their own. Who would've guessed a poor kid, living in the mean streets of Persia, would somehow find his way to becoming a royal Prince.
Garsiv, who happens to be eldest son is the next in line to inherit King Sharaman's throne. However, he receives word, from his Uncle Nizam (Ben Kingsley), that the Holy city of Alamut, is supplying alleged weapons of mass destruction to Persia's enemies. Thus, Nizam advises the young aspiring ruler and future heir to the throne that immediate action must be taken, even though it goes completely against the king's wishes. Gee, I wonder why this whole plot scenario seems vaguely familiar? Could it be that Disney and Jerry have some sort of hidden political agenda as a metaphor in this movie? Or it could be just one helluva a coincidence, I'll let you be the judge. Coincidences to real life events aside, this film doesn't focus heavily on that concept. After all, Bruckheimer's trying to make another billion dollar possible franchise here, so you know he's not going to risk it over a controversial subject matter. Moving on though, Dastan leads a surprise attack against the city of Alamut, before his brother and the rest of the Persian army could advance. Thus, conquering the entire kingdom during one successful raid, and forcing the lovely Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton) into marriage with Garsiv. However, the story doesn't end there.
As it turns out, Nizam stages the whole ordeal to attain the infamous "sands of time dagger", so he may go back and rewrite history. Which wouldn't be so bad depending on who you ask but as the lovely Princess Tamina tells us, "if the dagger uses too much of the sands of time, then our very own world could be destroyed and reduced to nothing." Whoa, that's definitely a real weapon of mass destruction there, I tells ya. Hence, Princess Tamina and Prince Dastan must put aside their petty differences and save the kingdom Persia, before the end of humanity is brought forth due Nizam's greed and arrogance.
I'll be honest, the story for this movie is pretty much the weakest part of this film. It lacks any kind of suspense, and tension build up. At least the video game was able to make the player feel like they were working towards something through the dangerous and suspenseful parts. Where as this film, it just becomes redundantly boring. As you could obviously tell how the film was going to end from a mile away. Heck, even the movie posters for this film give you a dead give away who the traitor is that tries to screw Dastan and the kingdom over. Something I thought would have worked so much better had they kept the traitor as more of a mystery, rather than shamelessly self promoting Ben Kingsley as the obvious villain of the movie. Heck, even his appearance alone is a dead give away, as he holds up that classic arch villain look.
If that didn't be all, then the love story is tragically even worse. As it so painfully rips off other romance movies where the two main protagonist's hate each others' guts, but soon find that behind their bitter rivalry are actual intense feelings of attraction and love. Gee, aren't all love stories like this? Or at least most of them these days? I know the "Star Wars" love story between Princess Laia and Han Solo was like that too, but there was one key difference though. Both actors could act in that franchise where as "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time", anyone could plainly see that Gemma Arterton could so not act. In fact, watching her play the part of the Princess made me want to take back all the negative things I said about Megan Fox before. No, she's not the worse and most over hyped actress in Hollywood anymore. No, Gemma Arterton gladly steals that honor with her underwhelming performance in this movie. Sure, Jake Gyllenhaal does his best to save what could have been a really bad movie altogether, and he almost does. As his humor and unbelievable charm carries the movie. Even his coy flirtatious humor seems to mesh rather well with Gemma's "ice queen" attitude throughout most of the film; despite her shortcomings as an actress.
Plus, I loved Alfred Molina's portrayal Sheik Amar, a two bit con man who runs an illegal ostrich racing circuit. Oh and he doesn't like to pay the government taxes either. You hear that America? Just say no to taxes! (I'm kidding of course) With all kidding aside now, I thought Sheik was probably the most interesting character in this movie. In fact, if it wasn't for his comedy relief throughout the film, then "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" would've probably just came off as another cliched ridden overly hyped movie.
I thought the fight choreography and special effects were tastefully done. Although a bit unrealistic at times, showing Dastan jumping literally what seems like miles in the air, as he leaps off roof tops and falling pillars to avoid falling into a sand trap. But hey, it's based off a platform video game series where the main character could do all that, so I won't hold it against this movie. Besides, they were pretty cool action and special effects scene in this movie.
Overall, I can't really complain too much about this movie, as it could have been a lot worse. Sure, I wish the story and tone could have been a helluva a lot better. However, it's still a lot better than I expected it be considering what it's based off of, where most movies generally suck if they're based off video games in general. Yet "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" is surprisingly a great fun treat to watch. Although I wouldn't pay full price to see this in theaters though, but it's definitely worth a rental once it comes out on DVD.