Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (8/10)
by Tony Medley
Run time 116 minutes
OK for children.
This is what the movies
used to be, an action movie that doesn’t take itself seriously and is a
lot of fun. The plot, based on a video game, uses as its McGuffin a
magic knife that can reverse time and, allegedly, allow its possessor to
rule the world. Naturally, everybody wants it (remember the Maltese
Falcon?). A prince, Daston (Jake Gyllenhaal), reluctantly joins forces
with the princess of Alamut, Tamina (Gemma Arterton), whose kingdom he
has just conquered, and while romantic sparks flow they work together,
and at cross purposes to get it, or retain it, or, whatever. Dastan is
being chased by his brothers and their army for complicated reasons. The point is that it makes just enough sense to be
Gyllenhall is a
handsome dude, who laughs at danger, always with a smile upon his face.
Arterton is gorgeous, also with a slight smile that indicates she’s
laughing at Daston and her fate, regardless of the impossible situations
into which he thrusts her. To top it off, they are both good actors.
Gyllenhall’s parkour puts one in mind of Douglas Fairbanks in The
Mark of Zorro (1920), The Three Musketeers (1921), Robin
Hood (1922), and others. The difference is that Fairbanks, a trained
acrobat, performed all of his deeds of derring-do himself without modern
aids. Gyllenhall is aided by wires and special effects to do the
impossible things he’s pictured doing.
There are a lot of enjoyable
visual effects in this film, but perhaps the best is the creation of the
fictional city of Alamut. Production designer Wolf Kroeger took
Tamesloht, a dusty, unpaved village, twenty kilometers southwest of
Marrakesh, consisting of a few shops, a few dwellings, and walls of an
ancient kasbah estimated to be 700 years old. Kroeger turned this into a
huge city containing a
magnificent square with a Taj Mahal–like palace rising 50 feet above the
ground. Streets abound with mind-blowing architectural and decorative
detail. I thought this the most amazing effect of the movie. It’s hard
to believe that it was all computer generated. There are lots of shots
of Alamut and they were almost as enjoyable as all the shots of the
gorgeous Arterton, who was clearly photographed with great attention to
detail to enhance her already formidable beauty.
The film is
admirably directed by Mike Newell with a cast that includes Ben
Kingsley, who plays Dastan’s uncle, Nizam, and Alfred Molina, who plays
the charming Sheikh Amar.
This is a lot of
May 27, 2010