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STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
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Good 3 Stars
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Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Gemma Arterton
Jake Gyllenhaal
Alfred Molina
Toby Kebbell
Reece Ritchie
Richard Coyle.
Directors
Mike Newell.
Screenwriters
Boaz Yakin
Doug Miro
Carlo Bernard
Jordan Mechner.
Running Time
115 minutes

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Prince Of Persia: The Sands of Time
And, lo, the destiny of video-game to movie adaptations fell to a man called Jerry...


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Plot
After being framed for his father’s murder, adopted Prince Dastan (Gyllenhaal) escapes with the diffident Princess Tamina (Arterton) and a dagger with the knack of rewinding time. A dagger the bad guys are keen on getting their hands on….


Review
Prince Of Persia: The Sands of Time
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How swiftly we have acclimatised to this multi-dimensional post-Avatar age of big-bang entertainment. So when a multi-million-dollar production of suitably fantasy orientation comes dressed only in plain old 2D, we stare hard-done-by at the poster and twitch irritably at the very idea of having to put up with mere narrative and acres of golden CGI. What gives? Is this some kind of Arabian-styled throwback to the naked passions of the Cassavetes canon? A tribute, with humble computer-generated sandstorms, to the vérité streets of Leigh or Loach? Surely, it’s just so 2008...

Persia arrives at the party with the firmly held belief that the Jerry Bruckheimer formula is enough: no need for the hasty addition of an extra dimension. There was certainly ample opportunity when the film was postponed from the growing hurly-burly that was the summer of 2009 and into 2010. Here is a big-scale movie, amusingly given its subject-matter, which stretched its own time-frame. Post-production could ease and, optimistically, the returns would be seen on screen and shatter the famous curse that any game-to-film adaptation will be as much fun as an argumentative root canal.

Yes, there’s no avoiding the obvious, Prince Of Persia arrives dragging that old bête noire for the blockbuster consumer: ‘based on a video-game’. How teeth gnash at the mere mention of previous attempts at entertainment synergy — those pummelling mishaps, Super Mario Bros., the Tomb Raiders or Street Fighters. It’s a barren landscape, but to a man unfazed by transforming a dusty theme-park ride into a billion-dollar franchise, why not rise to the challenges of making a gainful movie out of a popular platformer.

Bruckheimer, now a Yoda-like presence among the producers of Hollywood, is prone to shrugging his shoulders and waving away the imponderables of the business. The key, as he professes, is to lose no sleep to the petty grievances of the internet grumbler, and give your all to the demands of the cinemagoer.

Back in 1989, Jordan Mechner created a platform-jumping classic on the Apple II, a grumbling grey packing case of a computer. The theme was loosely Arabian Nights-ish, wherein a renegade prince negotiates pits of spikes and flames — a game drunk on the influence of Raiders’ opening ten minutes. It’s highly influential, has spawned six increasingly fangled sequels, and was so bloody hard, many Apple II’s plunged to their own deaths from bedroom windows. For those yet unacquainted with the particulars of the gaming sphere, Mike Newell’s Jerry Bruckheimer’s Prince Of Persia is an adaptation of the fifth iteration of the Persia games, helpfully also referred to as The Sands Of Time.

The results, straining so hard not to succumb to the film-as-game curse, find a tepid middle ground between a Bruckheimer hurl-it-up-there approach, and Newell’s devoted restraint in the cause of character and story. Controversially, for the junior demographic, he’s axed the game’s mindless demons for a non-creature feature. If the Pirates sequels became ever more tangled thickets of plot, here things are winningly simple: a good prince, a feisty princess, an evil uncle (when are they ever trustworthy?), and the worrying news that a nuclear billow of accursed sand is about to lay waste to all human kind. The gods, this year’s rather literal variation on the deus ex machina, opting for the ditch-it-and-start-again approach to their creation.

Yes, Newell and his screenwriters make a token thrust at topicality by throwing in the false search for weapons as the kick-off for an attack on an innocent city, and including this gigantic ‘device’ ticking away beneath Middle-Eastern soil. Early on, a helpful map instructs us that the Persian Empire stretched to cover most of what is now Iran and Iraq — a neighbour to Scheherazade’s more glamorous Araby. Although, we’re not entirely sure why Newell also went with a sandpapered Green Zone aesthetic. Since when do fairy tales need realism?

Standing in the way of disaster is Gemma Arterton’s comely princess/priestess Tamina. And a few awkward lurches of plot later (all that post-production and the film still staggers about like a drunk) they are teamed up, slow-burning their way to romance via the usual (but enjoyable) saucy bickering.

Newell has half-an-eye on the ebullient fizz of Douglas Fairbanks Jr. in the velveteen pomp of Sinbad The Sailor, wooing irascible Maureen O’Hara with his moon-sized grin and acrobatic gait. If the first Pirates taught them anything, it’s a worthy dimension in its own right — that merry dance of characters, the light frisson of comic exchange. And Gyllenhaal — likably warm and goofy, but a spiritual Han forever saddled with Luke’s lines — and Arterton, who gave 007 as good as she got, are a couple you root for. Arterton proves the most spirited character on show, even if she did recently lose a battle with Tango.

And, to be fair, most of their dialogue is as crusty as the city walls. How is it modern filmmakers never learned at Spielberg’s knee? That sublime trick of slipping in exposition without us noticing, never letting up on the action, the comedy, the bursting sense of adventure. The Indy films are a touchstone, but they wouldn’t be caught hatless with the listen-up-grandad approach to plotting here — “You mean this dagger can turn back time, so I can change what just happened to my own advantage?”, or lines to that effect.

Indy-refugee Alfred Molina makes a welcome appearance as a bandit who seems to have siphoned his dialogue in from Carry On Up The Minaret, and runs a delightful line in ostrich-racing. A suicidal ostrich comes very close to giving the finest performance in the film. The rest — Kingsley, Coyle, Kebbell et al — battle for credibility with some silly lines and very silly helmets.

Ironically, it’s when directly referencing the game the film finds it feet. There is a welcome attention to real-world stuntwork: the olde-worlde parkouring is thrilling, the swordfights have a steely urgency, and plenty of rapid-fire arrows, projectile snakes, and whirligigging cameras stand-up for a sturdy old-school prowess. And when called upon, the surging sandstorms, fizzing reversals of time, and other assorted uses of CGI are polished and unobtrusive. It’s with greater irony still, you imagine what 3D — good 3D — might have given it. Fancy hitting rewind, Jerry?

Gyllenhaal’s Dastan is the urchin adopted as a prince by a goodly king, then framed when he dons a poisoned robe. He’s got the moves of a street punk, parkouring about the ancient cities — dusty Minas Tiriths sticking out of the desert like pin-cushions — Bourne in baggy pyjama bottoms. He’s also come into possession of a dagger that holds a few of the Sands Of Time (subtitle alert!), and by the press of hilted jewel gets to rewind time by a minute — decently worked on screen in a whirl of electric light — to rework a scenario another way. Problem is, if said dagger falls into the wrong hands — look for the man wearing the most eyeliner — the entire tank of time-sand could be unleashed and strip the planet of pesky humans. What’s that? An ancient WMD buried in the desert...


Verdict
Its restraint might put off thrill-seekers, but if you can endure the wooden dialogue and sloppy exposition, it musters the entertainment quotient of a middle-order Harry Potter.


Reviewed by Ian Nathan

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Prince Of Persia: The Sands of Time
Empire Star Rating

If i hear the word 'DESTINY' one more sodding time. (spoiler)

i will start by saying that i was disappointed. i wont put one star, it hinkt hats reserved for very very very bad films. liek 'the golden compass' and 'eragon'. this may be on a par with that. actually, eragon was better. ouch. but i digress. put simply, the whole film just looses its plot about 40 mins in. i kept having to wake myself up to try and work out what (really awful) line of dialogu i had missed. Gemma Artreton is dread ful in it. Ben Kingsly also has some shockiing moment. Glynnenh... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by KOL/Avatar at 21:20, 02 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: If you love Indiana Jones ... then you will love this!

This actually wasn't that bad. Probably the best game-to-film adaption so far. I thought it would be appalling, but this was genuinely fun and not a pain to watch at all. Still relatively average, but on the good side of average. Now please make a Bioshock movie - it would be AMAZING in the right hands. of Persiatter than f the Titans deserves... ] ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by robwillphill at 19:52, 02 June 2010 | Report This Post


If you love Indiana Jones ... then you will love this!

I wanted to watch this when I first heard about it, then was not too sure after some reviews but when I saw it - LOVED IT! It takes you back to the Indiana Jones films (before Crystal Skull) just an old fashioned action / adventure film. The cast was good with the always excellent Jake Gyllenhaal (good accent!) and it wasn't in 3D which is an added bonus so no glasses!! Can't wait for the sequel! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by katelm76 at 11:37, 02 June 2010 | Report This Post


Old-fashioned Saturday Morning Entertainment

Old-school sword & sandals with added parkour. Enjoy it for what it is not what it isn't. Good nod to original games, and doesn't take itself too seriously. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by mojojojo at 20:38, 01 June 2010 | Report This Post


Should have been in 3D

Jake is very good, he oozes action-hero qualities, and is picture perfect for the role, he doesn't say much in the film, he needs more of he Jack Sparrow charm to him, more a cheeky and cocky prince would have made the film, less sand and swords ( or daggers?) and more cheeky comedy, like Pirates. The film would have been fantastic and more fun in 3D, but like Pirates, not the best film, but a good ride. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Kurtis93 at 13:14, 31 May 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Worst review ever.

A hugely insulting movie. Hollywood once again produces a film of complete ignorance penned by not one, but three dolt heads who spent more time in Camden market researching this film than modern day Persia. The writers pokes fun at the wackos in the Tea Party for resenting big government and fearing state sponsored violence but happily replace Persians with white people with dodgy English accents and bad fake tans and reduces all the minorities to roles as background characters or mystical sor... More

Posted by tarantinofan at 06:41, 31 May 2010 | Report This Post


Worst review ever.

Had a great time watching the film, thought it was fun.   My post is really about how badly written this review is. Did no editor glance over it? It borders on incomprehensible. It has no flow and any points are hidden in sentences that, that without seeming overly dramatic (as I wouldn't want to appear that way), seem to continue onwards in some sort of nonsensical spiral down towards a kind of seventh circle of a Dante-inspired hell where writers of reviews are no doubt headed when t... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Kilo_T_Mortal at 19:21, 30 May 2010 | Report This Post


Although Prince of Persia does have its major flaws, it does manage to cover them up ever so mildly to the naked eye as to deliver a worthwile experience which is ultimately quite entertaining. The movie's strenghts undeniably lie in its action scenes - quite simply the best we've seen in a long time; old-fashioned yet always an utter joy to watch and behold. Everything else is so-so at best: the acting is definitely nothing to write home about and Newell is not as experienced as much as Prince... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by djphilips at 15:51, 30 May 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Amazing, Perfect To Spend Two Hours With.

Just got back from seeing it, I really enjoyed it. To defend Jake some, I thought he was really great in the film, and you could tell he was having a good time, which is great. I thought he was charming and witty, and looked a lot like the character should. As for the over all entertainment, I thought the sets were incredible, and I'm a sucker for parkour, so all the chase scenes were really fun for me. ... More

Posted by TrailMix at 14:50, 30 May 2010 | Report This Post


Amazing, Perfect To Spend Two Hours With.

I've played all the Prince Of Persia games, enjoying every single one. But when I heard that there was going to be a movie, I was weary that they could ruin it and would be ashamed to play the games anymore. Well, my worries were wrong. It was simply amazing, I was instanly taken within the opening scene to the final moments. Even the credits began to roll, I was still in awe. Jake Gyllehaall IS the Prince Of Persia, no other could play him and he did with a fine art. There was NOTHING wrong wit... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by joanna likes films at 18:34, 29 May 2010 | Report This Post


Amazing, Perfect To Spend Two Hours With.

I've played all the Prince Of Persia games, enjoying every single one. But when I heard that there was going to be a movie, I was weary that they could ruin it and would be ashamed to play the games anymore. Well, my worries were wrong. It was simply amazing, I was instanly taken within the opening scene to the final moments. Even the credits began to roll, I was still in awe. Jake Gyllehaall IS the Prince Of Persia, no other could play him and he did with a fine art. There was NOTHING wrong wit... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by joanna likes films at 18:33, 29 May 2010 | Report This Post


2 stars max

The storytelling is the worst part of the movie, I don't know what happened with Jerry , maybe he is very busy with trasformers, but its hardly an execuse. Also the lack of atmosphere, thats because the place of action change so quickly and without order and also without sence. The main cast is good but no more, their wooden dialogues kill all their play. But sidekicks are realy good . ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Sanya at 11:55, 29 May 2010 | Report This Post


absolute trash

I cant....... I want..... I....... I.... 3 STARS!!!!?????? THREE???!!! WHAT THE @#$%!^!%@%%@%@%@%@%!!!!! ARE YOU @#$$$ING KIDDING ME!!? Ive been thinking for a while now that Empire sucks big fat hairy donkey balls and the only thing theyre good for is providing news (they can hardly do that right), but this is too much!! you have gone too far. waaaay too far. youre just tryng to please everybody arent you? all I see is 3s and 4s and occasilonally 5s (most of the time misgiven). recently: Cop Ou... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by uheiberg at 00:36, 29 May 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Prince Of Persia

I enjoyed it in a 'old fashioned serial/Adventures of Sinbad' kind of way.... Not particularly memorable apart from the opening assault, but good fun for 2 hours. 3/5 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Timon at 09:17, 28 May 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Better than the review gives it credit for

L: doug64 having heard and read a lot of bad things about this movie i was a bit worried going in but you know what it aint that bad, indeed up until jake(cant remember the characters name!!) figures out it was his uncle it was zipping along nicely. then it lost its way a bit. it was better than both clash of the titans and robin hood, though thats not saying much. also find it funny people complaing about accents, in a film about a dagger that turns back time... point!ntioned that ... More

Posted by BOHEMIANBOB at 00:30, 27 May 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Better than the review gives it credit for

Watched it this morning and I thought it was alright. It's no Indiana Jones, but it's entertaining enough and as others have said there's some good chemistry between Gyllenhaal and Arterton. I also think his accent isn't as bad as some have made out, I thought he had a good stab at it, one or two wobbles aside.   The main problems for me were ones that I would expect from this sort of film anyway - weak script, plot holes and some lousy supporting players. They aren't bad enough to mak... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by superdan at 14:51, 26 May 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Better than the review gives it credit for

having heard and read a lot of bad things about this movie i was a bit worried going in but you know what it aint that bad, indeed up until jake(cant remember the characters name!!) figures out it was his uncle it was zipping along nicely. then it lost its way a bit. it was better than both clash of the titans and robin hood, though thats not saying much. also find it funny people complaing about accents, in a film about a dagger that turns back time... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by doug64 at 23:40, 25 May 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Better than the review gives it credit for

Robin Hood is better,but to say a film is better due to it being more "fun" would have some credibility IF the movie was fun,say like the first Pirates movie(unashamed fun!). But Persia is a bad version of that and not much "fun" at all,with a robotic miscast leading man. Where does the "fun" end?Scarey Movie? ... More

Posted by BOHEMIANBOB at 22:20, 25 May 2010 | Report This Post


S(t)and by your Man, maybe !!!........

Well, having just seen this Film today, I suppose you just have to take it with a pinch of Salt ( or Sand ) and go with the flow of it really. Its probably not as bad as some reviews have stated, and one of the best descriptions I heard lately was, an " Adventure in Spectacular Crap "......might be something in that description perhaps !!!....... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by n13roy at 19:41, 25 May 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Better than the review gives it credit for

L: Dr Lenera L: Edward Nygma Well Prince of Persia was hardly a disappointment in that I personally didn't expect much from it anyway. As far as video game to film adaptations go it's one of the best...or less terrible. Jake is completely miscast...that accent was just embarrassing. I love the guy and he did his best to make his part work but he's just not right in this role. At all. Film itself had its fun moments but the direction and editing was all over the place. Such ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Edward Nygma at 14:07, 25 May 2010 | Report This Post


WTF Empire?

Another truly awful review. Please re read and re-submit. Some sentences make no sense. Are you after the yoof consumer? Empire is again going through a period where it seems to have lost touch with the Englsh language. See the Clash of the Titans review for further evidence. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Cletus Van Damme at 10:42, 25 May 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Better than the review gives it credit for

Sorry folks,i agree with most of what you are saying,but ffs "this was more fun"?? For "fun" you mean meandering shite with a worse accent and scenes you cannot even see? Better than Robin Hood(yes very flawed!!) on this basis?? ... More

Posted by BOHEMIANBOB at 23:58, 24 May 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Better than the review gives it credit for

L: Edward Nygma Well Prince of Persia was hardly a disappointment in that I personally didn't expect much from it anyway. As far as video game to film adaptations go it's one of the best...or less terrible. Jake is completely miscast...that accent was just embarrassing. I love the guy and he did his best to make his part work but he's just not right in this role. At all. Film itself had its fun moments but the direction and editing was all over the place. Such a mess. Especially ... More

Posted by Dr Lenera at 21:35, 24 May 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Not Bad But Not Great Either

One doesn't really expect much from a film based on a computer game, but considering Arabian Nights-orientated films are extremely rare nowadays I was looking forward to this and it seemed like it would be a lot of fun.  Well it is fairly fun, but probably almost totally forgettable, I can't imagine I'll rememeber much in a few days time.  I have no idea if this is close to the game, but as an Arabian Nights movie it's suprisingly unimaginative and seems to be holding b... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dr Lenera at 21:33, 24 May 2010 | Report This Post


Not Bad But Not Great Either

I was only slightly entertained, the quarreling love interest thing is a cliche and the film itself never made me think oh that was cool, and it didnt make me laugh either, I pretty much expected it to be like this. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Bighousewill at 18:10, 24 May 2010 | Report This Post


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