“Releasing the Sand turns back time. Only the holder of the Dagger is aware of what’s happened,” Prince Dastan says in “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.”
A collaboration between Walt Disney Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer Productions, the film comes across as a “Pirates of the Caribbean” where all the water has been replaced by sand.
Jake Gyllenhaal, known before this film more for his puppy eyes and his swoon-worthy quality, is Dastan, an orphan and honest boy.
The setting is ancient Persia, an almost magical place constantly basked in the most wonderful golden light that gives things a near-precious feel.
One day, Dastan comes to the rescue of another boy who was being unjustly punished, and thus gets the chance (unawares) to display his Parkour skills for the king kindly ruling over the land, King Sharaman (Ronald Pickup). The King already has two boys, Garsiv (Toby Kebbell) and Tus (Richard Coyle), but he decides to adopt Dastan nonetheless, and thus make of him a prince.
The King’s brother, Nizam, (Sir Ben Kingsley), though he does not show it right then and there, is not happy about it, which speaks volumes in terms of how predictable the film will eventually turn out to be.
Dastan the orphan boy grows up into a man who knows no fear. He jumps from camel to camel on their backs, runs on rooftops, walks on walls, and does the most amazing backflips while being tied with nothing but a rope that would, of course, inspire no kind of confidence these days with a genuine pro. What’s even more amazing in these action scenes than Gyllenhaal’s arms and abs is the fact that one can literally see which are the stunts he does himself. Moreover, all fight scenes are beautifully choreographed and don’t rely too heavily on speed, so that one is never lost when watching them. I would said that the fighting scenes, movements and everything are fantastic and at their best.
All is well until the order is given to attack the holy city of Alamut, of which unreliable intel says it is harboring weapons of mass destruction. Again predictably, that too is a lie for all there is in the city is a gorgeous princess, Tamina (Gemma Arterton) although I hardly see her as gorgeous. The princess, who is the guardian of a magic Dagger, which can turn back time by just one minute when you release some of the Sand of Time. The Dagger is also the only object that can break a huge glass-like vessel underneath Alamut, which contains enough of this mythical Sand to swipe everything on Earth. Understandably, all villains want the Dagger and will stop at nothing to get it, which sets the two unlike allies, Dastan and Tamina, on a terrific journey through the desert, which is as fun as it is apparently lacking real substance.
Jake Gyllenhaal and Gemma Arterton are unlike allies in “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time”
That is not to say that the mission the two have is not urgent enough: just that the viewer experiences its translation on the big screen in a rather passive, though very alert, way. The types that make up the rest of the comic-book atmosphere of the film include Sheik Amar (Alfred Molina), whose clear function is that of bringing comic relief, with his ostrich races and his propensity towards tax evasion and easy money; knife-thrower Seso (Steve Toussaint), who evolves from threatening brute to loyal protector; and, of course, the Hassansins, who are a group of ninja-like warriors who handle incredible weapons with amazing speed and accuracy. All these characters come with stories that are clear from the get-go and leave no room for questions, which is why critics agree the film is too honest with the viewer to hate it, despite its flaws. In the end, order is established with a typical feel-good Disney ending that can’t but bring a smile and thus sum up what has been an amazing and exciting ride, albeit one devoid of real feeling.
Well, if you have yet to watch this movie, make sure you watch it on the Big Screen especially if you want to watch the nice abs, the wonderful jumping and fighting scenes...