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Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Review Written by Brad Bolton
It’s the Summer time, and when I think summer, I think of heat, and when I think heat, I think sand. This makes this the time of sand. See what I did there? Eh? EH?Anyway, we now have a new movie based on a popular video game. Now I know that a video-game-based –movie usually has people cower in fear almost as much as a new family-oriented Jackie Chan flick…
But before you either run away or gather your pitchforks let me say that for a video game based movie it 'aint bad at all. In fact some might say it’s pretty good for what it is.
The movie takes place a long time ago when the Persian Empire ruled from the borders of China to the Mediterranean. However, it’s just before they meet King Leonidas and his 300 so we don’t have any hand-bladed monsters or ninjas…actually there ARE ninjas in this movie; AND it’s produced by the man that did the Pirates movies. Hmm…
We learn the origins of The Prince. Who before he was a prince used to be a street rat named Aladdin, but the name was trademarked, so his name was changed to Dustin…err sorry…Dastan!
Dastan showed he had huge cojones, and the king decided to adopt him, raising him as his third son. Fast forward…eh? 15 years and the Prince have grown up, and has become Jake Gyllahel…Gyllen…Jake-just Jake. He and his two brothers have gathered an army outside a city called Alamut.
The king’s brother and the Prince’s uncle –played by Ben Kingsley, who; is more transparently evil than Jeremy Irons in Dungeons and Dragons. We know he’s evil because he has thick eye liner and the camera is constantly showing his indifferent face in uncomfortable close ups. Also he must be running neck-in-neck with Christopher Lee for most ethnic roles played by pasty white Englishman. But back to the plot.
Kingsley says he has evidence that Alamut is forging weapons for the enemies of Persia, and thus must be invaded in a pre-emptive attack.
So the Persian army goes on the attack and Dastan sneaks in to the side with a small force to open the gate. His comrade suggests they use a ladder to climb the wall but Dastan thinks it would be cooler if they used bows to create a ladder for him to climb. His comrade slaps him across the face saying it’s a stupid plan but Dastan says, “I’m the Prince of Persia I can do what I want!”
So he climbs the wall and opens the gate to allow his brother’s force in to attack. What follows is actually some pretty nice acrobatics by what is either CGI or a stuntman, either way it sure as hell wasn’t Jake. There’s also some sword play but the director was a huge fan of Gears of War so everything is brown and hard to see. Not to mention super fast cuts make it disorienting to see what’s going on. The Persians take over the city and find the princess of Alamut. Even though we never see the king or queen and they are never even mentioned, which makes this princess a queen…but whatever.
The princess is played by Io from Clash of the Titans, who was played by Gemma Arterton, otherwise known as the woman who should have been the Bond girl in Quantum of Solace. Her sole role in her recent movies is to spill exposition for the audience at every point, even long after they stop caring. In fact more than a quarter of her dialogue comprises of pure exposition. Two quarters are her nagging to Dastan. And the last quarter is her spewing cliché lines about destiny.
Anyway it seems that the point of this whole city was to house the fabled Dagger that turns back time. So she sends her best man to take the dagger out of the city. Unfortunately he runs into Dastan. He gets his ass kicked and Dastan takes the dagger as a prize. The Persians storm the tower and the eldest prince takes the princess as his bride. She goes along with it, only so she can try and steal back the dagger from Dastan.
Much celebration is held due to the Persian victory, when –surprise surprise they can’t find any weapons. But people are too busy sipping brewskys to care all that much. Dastan’s older brother hands him a gift to present to the king, a gold robe. The king, overjoyed wears the robe, and says that the eldest brother already has enough hoes. So he hands Gemma over to Dastan, just before the robe starts burning the king alive. Everyone tries taking it off but their hands burn so he dies. I wonder why it starts burning now instead of when it was being placed on the king, but whatever.
As you can expect, everyone blames Dastan for the murder and he runs off, along with the princess. They slip out to safety. Dastan’s about ready to drop her nagging ass, until she tries to steal the dagger, making Dastan accidentally pressing the little red button on the dagger causing him to go just a few seconds in the past. Realizing the true power of what he has.
Now the order of events gets a little confusing, because the rest of the movie feels like it’s happening over the course of a single day, but lots of time passes, possibly months after the death of the king. But after what is apparently a week or so, Dastan and the princess travel to the city where his father will be buried. On their way they take a short cut through some valley which is –of course- forbidden. There they are kidnapped by evil slavers who do the most evil thing imaginable. Ostrich racing! Yes here we meet the comedy relief played by Alfred Molina. Who despite being the comedy relief doesn’t make me want to cut my wrists, as he’s actually pretty funny, without hamming it up too much. He has a black body guard who specializes in throwing weapons. You can almost see the red target forming on his forehead already. Molina realizes that Dastan is the Prince and wants to take him in for the reward money, but the two escape, causing a riot at the ostrich track.
Now that that little distraction is done with. Dastan and the princess finally make it to the city to meet with Kingsley. He schedules a meeting, and tries to explain what had happened, with the dagger as evidence. Fortunately the princess isn’t as rock stupid as Dastan, and swipes the dagger. Dastan notices that Kingsley’s hands are burnt, and it’s revealed that he poisoned the cloak!!!
So the Prince escapes the guards and finds the princess. She was hiding in the middle of nowhere but that doesn’t stop Dastan cuz he’s the Prince of Persia! Dastan inexplicably realizes Kingsley’s plan to steal the dagger to go back in time where he would be king and rule the Persian Empire , and hopefully undo Bloodrayne in the process. Princess says they have to return the dagger to some temple to prevent it being used for evil. And since she’s the guardian of the dagger that means that she will have to give her own life to do so. She says it’s her destiny and the Prince says that “there’s no fate but what we make” and all that other crap. But it’s not long before they are captured…YET AGAIN, by Molina who after the riot has lost everything and has every reason to gut the two right then and there but agrees to help the two because this temple has gold that he can get as a reward.
While the band of heroes do more traveling, Kingsley hires a group of ninjas, because every big movie should have ninjas, to attack them. They ride under the cover of dust devils, and sneak up on the band at night with the use of snakes that have a real knack for flinging through the faces of their victims. It’s actually kinda funny watching this inept band get there asses kicked by flying snakes. But they pose no match for Dastan and the magic dagger.
The band finds the temple ransacked due to the ninjas, and falls into a trap. The ninjas and the Prince’s other brother finds him and attack. Dastan manages to convince his brother that it was a setup, only before the brother gets punked out by another ninja. The fights ends pretty well for the band of heroes, but…get this, the dagger gets stolen AGAIN, this time being taken to the city in the beginning. Apparently the city was built, not only to hold the time dagger but also the Sands of Time itself which is a giant flaming pillar of sand underneath the city. Should the dagger ever be inserted into this thing it would undo the entire world destroying it with sand.
So let me get this straight, we have-what is essentially the detonation device to the entire world, AND the one and only key to this device, all in the same city? Why the hell would they do that? If it was such a danger why wouldn’t they destroy the dagger? Or at the very least hold the dagger in the farthest temple AWAY from the Atomic sand bomb?
Whatever, this review is running too long. The band of heroes reaches the city and the tower where the dagger is held. But the last ninja is guarding it, so they decide to send in the one and only black guy in to kill him and steal the dagger. I’m sure he’ll be fine. The battle involves throwing tons of knives in a room with pillars on the side.
The black guy kills the ninja but is mortally wounded too, proving once again that black brotha's never can catch a break. He throws the dagger out of the window before he dies, and Dastan takes it to his eldest brother and proves to him that the black cloak wearing eye liner bastard is actually not so good after all. Unfortunately like his last brother, just as he believes Dastan he gets killed by Kingsley and the dagger gets taken again…Y’know this dagger gets passed around so often that I’m starting to think this is an overly epic film rendition of the game “Hot Potato.”
Literally in every scene if someone is holding the dagger it’s going to be in someone else's possession the very next scene.
Kingsley takes it to the Sands of Time, and the Prince and Princess follow a different path across this wooden beam that is surrounded by sand that will give way if so much as a pebble hits it. As you can guess that’s what happens and Dastan falls in an avalanche of sand because we needed an action sequence for the trailer. But he’s fine, and the two encounter Kingsley. Naturally the cave is giving way and the Princess falls down a chasm to her death. The prince and Kingsley have a fight and the Sands of Time are being released destroying the world around them as well as taking them back through time. It’s a heavy CGI scene, and it’s pretty intense. But Dastan manages to take the dagger and the doomsday clock stops, but transports Dastan back to the past right before his father dies. Allowing him enough time to stop what we just spent the last hour and a half watching from happening.
As you can guess, he exposes Kingsley to his eldest brother for the snake that he is, though the brother was planning on killing him anyway because of Species, but whatever. The king lives and the Prince returns the dagger to the princess. Unfortunately the princess doesn’t know how much of an idiot Dastan is so she has a crush on him and they ride off to the sunset and they all live happily ever after.
Ultimately the Prince of Persia despite some plot holes, dialogue that is either lame or too expositive, characters that have little to no chemistry. And some needless slow-mo at times, is an overall enjoyable movie. And for one that is based on a video game it’s worth seeing at least when it comes out on DVD.
I now leave you with this...