Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time may not be the most faithful adaptation, but it still keeps the spirit of the video game alive in this production in its representation of the comedy, characters, and action of the fan favorite game.
The brief backstory of this incarnation of the Sands of Time story starts with an incident on the streets that leads to Daston being adopted into the royal family. A decade later he is beloved by his father and both of his brothers, and because of this he plays his part in his brother’s decision to attack the holy city of Alamut though he has some reservations in concern to this decision. The sand is briefly allowed to settle following the battle before an incident occurs forcing Daston to flee from the city with the help of Princess Tamina. Though it would be nice to think that she is simply committing her good deed of the day, she is quick to reveal her ulterior motives for helping in the escape. Before fleeing, Daston came into possession of a supernatural dagger that Tamina has sworn to protect. Unfortunately for her, Daston figures out the special rewind button on the dagger before she is able to get it back from him, making her job a little more challenging.
A lot of work went into recreating the world of Prince of Persia. The sets are amazing in both the computer generated cityscapes and practically created elements, and they lend themselves greatly to the free running that Daston does through them, recreating the amazing platforming aspect of the games. And speaking of the visual effects, the effects that are used when Daston presses the rewind button are carried out in such a way that never appear cheesy, which could have easily happened when you are watching people walking around backwards and what not. I just wish there were more moments like this because I sure know that I wasn’t stingy in my use of that power during the game; but I guess Daston is more capable of not doing the things that have a strong likelihood of leading to death…
Though it is fun to watch the ways in which Daston moves from point A to point B, occasionally he does choose the first option in fight or flight. The combat is another way in which this film has changed from the game, choosing to go a more realistic route in this element as well. In the beginning of the game, a major event leads to the zombification (for lack of a better term) of the citizens of the city, causing throngs of enemies to fight through in addition to the platforming elements. This time around Daston is up against normal soldiers that he easily eludes more often than not, and because of this change, the overwhelming feeling often felt in the game is missing, and the need to lean on the dagger to redo a mistake goes with it. However, this is not to say that the combat is still not a great part of the film. Instead of the monstrous throngs, Daston comes up against a different breed of baddies known as the Hassansins. These minibosses all come well trained in their own form of combat, including throwing spikes, the control of deadly snakes, and whips that would put Whiplash’s ribbon dancing to shame (yes, I am still a little bitter about the Iron Man 2 villain…), and they are all more than capable of stopping the Prince in his tracks.
The one place that this film falls a little short is in the dialog and characters. Jake Gyllenhaal does a great job embodying the prince in concern to the looks and stunts, but unfortunately he is not always given the best words to say. For both his character and Gemma Arterton’s, who plays Tamina, the dialog can get pretty repetitive, and though the comedic aspect of these characters is used on many occasions, it could have been much stronger. In addition to this, I still have some minor qualms with the princess in this film. In this incarnation, I was hoping for a stronger woman who is more than capable of handling her own when need be; and even though she is not quite a damsel in distress, she is still a little too incapable for someone who is given the important task of protecting the dagger. Because of this, Arterton is still unable to fully show what she is (hopefully) capable of doing, though this is a far superior role than what she was given in Clash of the Titans. In addition to these two leads, the film is filled out by good enough performances from Ben Kingsley as the brothers’ uncle and advisor, Alfred Molina as a man who is comically opposed to “the man” and full of one-liners, and Toby Kebbell and Richard Coyle as Daston’s brothers, but again they only have so much to work with given the dialog.
Even with the sometimes cheesy dialog, this film is still immensely enjoyable and entertaining thanks to the actors and strong action elements, making this anything but a disappointing adaptation of one of my favorite video game worlds.
Final Grade: B