- 'PRINCE OF PERSIA': Jake Gyllenhaal and Gemma Arterton.
"Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" is one more critic-proof movie for the pile, one that you've likely made up your mind about. If you've played the games and loved them enough, or if you've got kids who are begging you to take them, then you're going. You expect it'll be at least a little cheesy, that it'll be the usual summer more-spectacle-than-film fare, and your greatest hope will be that it gets the whole running-jumping-climbing-falling thing down well enough. That, after all, was the entire point of the game.
And at that it succeeds. Well enough, anyway. The script's pretty awful, though not of George Lucas proportions. The acting's fine enough — there's only so much even Ben Kingsley can do with a paint-by-numbers character, and what is it with him and bad movies lately? And yes, there's the running and bounding swarthy men with eyeliner. Eddie Izzard would be proud.
Here's your standard "hero destined for greatness learns magic karate" plot: A young slum orphan named Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal) is adopted by the Persian king after a Show of Bravery and grows up a brother to the king's two birth sons. They go off to War with Somebody, and on the way decide to go to War with Somebody Else, even though the king warned them not to. None of that matters more than for us to understand that Dastan Is Awesome At Fighting, and that there may be a Dastardly Plot for him to get caught in.
After we learn of Dastan's awesomeness, he gets his hands on a Mystical Dagger which, when used correctly, dispenses magic sand that turns back time. This dagger is of course at the center of the Dastardly Plot, and Dastan must now be Really Super Awesome if he's going to defeat it. You will be unsurprised to learn that he is. Also, there's a Super Hot Lady who hates him but will love him. And some half-ninja, half-ring-wraith assassins with snakes, which is not as cool as it sounds.
"Prince of Persia" distinguishes itself by showing us no actual Persians, but not by standing as one more mile marker down the road toward the ultimate and inevitable blurring of the boundary between film and games into the hybrid medium of "interactive film." The movie is, after all, just one setup after another for a filmed version of the game that's played for you.
Personally, I think that when fully realized, interactive film will be a promising field of entertainment, but we'll have to do better on the storytelling end of things than this. You see, gaping plot holes and bad dialogue are generally forgiven in both games and movies if the creators can give us something memorable in exchange (hence "Star Wars" and the "Prince of Persia" games), but this particular film can't give us either a passable script or action and CGI sequences that we haven't seen a thousand times before.
So if you're just nutso about the games or are willing to indulge your kids, go. It isn't awful, merely forgettable. But if you were hoping for anything more, well, your Xbox will give you a lot more entertainment for the money.