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Customer Review

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Reasonable Adventure Film In Beautiful Surrounds, 28 Dec. 2010
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This review is from: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time [DVD] (DVD)
Prince of Persia is an adaptation of the computer game franchise into the world of film and it is a perfectly reasonable family-friendly adventure. Jake Gyllenhaal takes the lead as Prince Dastan who must save the world from a dastardly plot being hatched by his own uncle while fighting bad guys and the hierachy of the Persian court. It is a truly beautifully costumed film and the scenery is excellent. The plot is fine if not especially challenging, the cultural references are there for those who want to see them, and in the main the acting is ok.

Jake Gyllenhaal's Price Dastan makes for an ok adventure lead. He is not overly charismatic and he is a little wide-eyed too often but as the centerpiece of the film he is not offputting. He is deliberately more earthy and energetic than his Princely brothers because of his origins. The earliest scenes show him as a child being taken under the wise king's wings for his bravery and integrity. He doesn't particularly display those character elements later on in the film where he is more cunning than anything - perhaps this is character development showing the effect of court life on that boy or perhaps character development isn't really the point of a film like this.

Gyllenhaal's biggest problem is that he is cast alongside the weakest part of the film - Gemma Arterton. Her role as Princess Tamina is annoying. Being the traditional bratty princess who backchats her way through most of the film makes her a difficult to like character. Arterton is not particularly well cast for the role at all. She does not suit the Cleopatra style makeup that she wears early on and she doesn't have the *ahem* *physique* to fit the slave girl outfits. Some of the most entertaining parts of Prince of Persia are when Dastan catches Tamina out and she gets her occasional comeuppance. Arterton is not terrible when taking on the more ethereal sounding lines in her role as High Priestess but she has too many other lines.

Fortunately the rest of the cast are generally very good. Ben Kingsley is a bit under-used so crams in a little bit too much ham into Prince Nizam but he is a menacing and darkly entertaining villain. He has great presence as an evil Grand Visier style character. The brothers are perfectly fine and the nobility of Richard Coyle's Prince Tus is very endearing. As the straight man it can be hard to shine in a film like this but Coyle turns in a decent performance. Alfred Molina is probably supposed to steal the show as Sheikh Amar and he definitely has all the best lines but it probably would have been much funnier had it been Omid Djalili.

The dialogue takes a little getting used to because everyone is English. It works but only by rationalising which makes it a little more hard work than it should be. Dastan has a London accent most of the time which makes logical sense as it is a relative accent compared to the more received pronounciation English of the higher born characters but still it does take a while to get over the question as to whether he's supposed to be a mockney.

Still, this is a respectable family film because the plot works. It is the traditional get the item quest but each step is well taken. The machinations and motivation of Nizam make sense, the reactions of the Princes are perfectly understandable, and the morality works both for the modern audience and in trying to place it to 6th century Persia. Even the ending turns out to be better than it should have been.

This is not an historical adventure, it is a computer game adaptation. However, it has a distinct setting in place and in time and it does reasonable superficial justice for those who aren't looking for complete accuracy. The Hashashin and Sufi Islam obviously didn't exist in the 6th century but that doesn't matter because both did exist in that place not long afterwards and were very significant features of it. That they and the Sassanid's didn't coexist doesn't mean that these elements of Persian history must be kept apart when some of the very best scenes in the film are about ostrich racing.

The scenery that the film is set in is absolutely terrific. The extras reveal it unsurprisingly to be Morocco and pretty much every scene is absolutely gorgeous. The costumes for the set and for the actors are stunning and it really does seem to be set in a living environment. Prince of Persia is probably the best-costumed film since Lord of the Rings.

As a predominantely action film, the battle sequences need to be good and they are. Ben Kingsley has a surprisingly impressive action moment, the Hashashin fight vs the Sudanese knife thrower is absolutely terrific, and Prince Dastan is at the heart of some excellent gymnastics. The extras show that the stunts are largely Parkour based and that works very well for Prince of Persia. The vertical lifting and the jumping are extremely reminiscent of the game that appeared some 20 odd years ago. There probably aren't quite enough traps to be completely reminiscent of that game but perhaps it is more similar to the recent game? The stunts and the fights are believable and varied, Jake Gyllenhaal is a very credible swordsman.

The extras are a little limited but what is there is good. The making of is a talking heads session with plenty of in-sequence action in the background and a brief insight into the major features of set and costume as well as a bit of talk from the main actors.

A fun and worthwhile family-friendly action adventure with great background and swordfighting is not the greatest film of its generation or genre but is also far from the worst.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 2 Jan 2013 20:47:04 GMT
Tim says:
a review almost as long as the film - you are a deeply boring person. Next time, try to capture the essence of the film, not describe it in detail

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Jan 2013 17:40:36 GMT
Malarchy says:
Congratulations, yours is the most stupid comment I've received on my Amazon reviews.
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