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Set in the mystical lands of Persia, a rogue prince and a mysterious princess race against dark forces to safeguard an ancient dagger capable of releasing the Sands of Time -- a gift from the gods that can reverse time and allow its possessor to rule the world.Written by
Walt Disney Pictures
Ostriches do not have suicidal tendencies. But, since this is a fictional story based on a video game, anything is possible. See more »
The map in the opening scene shows a Persian Empire stretching to Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) in the west. Persian rule never again extended this far once Alexander the Great toppled the Achaemenid Dynasty in the 4th century BC. In a featurette on the DVD, the director describes the movie's action as taking place between the 4th and 6th centuries, presumably AD, several centuries after the map would have become obsolete. By that time the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire would have controlled many of the areas shown as western Persia on the map. See more »
Long ago in a land far away, there once rose an empire that stretched from the steppes of China to the shores of the Mediterranean. That empire was Persia. Fierce in battle, wise in victory. Where the Persian sword went, order followed. The Persian king, Sharaman, ruled with his brother, Nizam, upon the principles of loyalty and brotherhood.
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In 1989, Jordan Mechner created the first Prince of Persia video game on an Apple II. Since then, the video game franchise has come a long way and is one of the more successful and recognizable titles in the industry. Jerry Bruckheimer Films acquired the film rights to the 2003 video game Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and now it's a Disney blockbuster.
Prince Dastan (Gyllenhaal), an orphan from the streets of Sixth Century Persia, is taken in by King Sharaman (Ronald Pickup) and his brother Nizam (Kingsley). Dastan takes his place as the adopted brother of the two sons of Sharaman, growing up as a Prince. Now adults, the three princes lead an assault on the Holy City of Alamut, suspected to be the site of several forges where weapons for enemies of Persia are manufactured.
In Alamut, they encounter Princess Tamina (Arterton), the guardian of the Dagger of Time. The wielder of the Dagger can turn back time and only he is aware of what happened. Dastan is framed for murder at the victory celebration, and escapes with Tamina. Neither likes the other a whole lot, but have to cooperate so that Dastan can prove his innocence and Tamina can safeguard the dagger.
Along the way, they meet Sheik Amar (Alfred Molina), an "entrepreneur" who runs an ostrich-racing syndicate. Amar assists Dastan and Tamina in traveling to a sanctuary where the dagger can be safe. They are ambushed by Hassansins, treacherous hired killers skilled in a variety of deadly arts.
It is revealed that Nizam is behind the scheme and plans to use the dagger to turn back time such that he and not his brother Sharaman would be the true king. Dastan and Tamina thus have to prevent the dagger from falling into the hands of the evil Nizam.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time sets out to be an epic, sweeping adventure. There is some spectacle, several good action sequences and well-choreographed fight scenes. Despite this, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time feels more like an average Hollywood actioner dressed as a sword-and-sandals tale.
It is more than obvious that the film's main purpose is to try to replicate the success achieved by Disney and Bruckheimer's previous venture, the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise. As such, comparisons are inevitable. Unfortunately, Prince of Persia: the Sands of Time does not feel as refreshing and swashbuckling as the Pirates of the Caribbean films, especially the first movie. It had a bigger scope, took greater risks filmmaking-wise and really broke more ground. Elements of other Disney films are readily recognizable: the street urchin-turned prince from Aladdin and the evil uncle from The Lion King, among others.
The film boasts a cast that can be best described as "interesting". Indie darling Jake Gyllenhaal may seem the furthest thing from a marketable action star, but he is very charming and likable as Dastan. Gyllenhaal's dedication is also evident in the amount of muscle mass he gained to play the Prince, providing plenty of eye candy in what is not a typical ladies' film. Gyllenhaal performed many of his own stunts, including swordfighting and parkour-style jumping across rooftops. Who knows, this may be the start of the Brokeback Mountain guy's mainstream movie action star career.
It is a bit of a pity then that his leading lady doesn't exude the same kind of appeal. The casting of Gemma Arterton seems to be inspired by choosing fellow English Rose Keira Knightley as the leading lady of the Pirates of the Caribbean films. Arterton is stiff and shares little chemistry with Gyllenhaal, and looks nothing like the perceived image of a Far Eastern princess. There is a scene where Tamina removes her veil and the whole room gasps at her beauty-while Arterton is somewhat attractive, that's incredulous at best. I would have rather a Bollywood beauty be cast as Tamina, someone like Malika Sherawat, Frieda Pinto or Katrina Kaif.
Ben Kingsley is excellent as a mustache-twirling evil uncle, and it is no surprise at all when he is revealed to be the villainous mastermind-that eye shadow should be indication enough. Being half-Indian, he definitely pulls off the Middle-Eastern look better than many of his co-stars.
It is Alfred Molina who steals the show as the comic relief. His character Sheik Amar is greedy, shifty and untrustworthy, but somehow Molina makes him utterly likable, relishing the chance to ham it up just a little.
Filmed partially on location in Morocco, the film possesses a hint of the exotic. However, the film feels culturally and historically ambiguous, especially since everyone speaks with a crisp British accent. Also, the audience can easily tell when the action moves to the sound stage, and, unlike Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, it's not going to win an Oscar for Best Visual Effects-or anything else, for that matter.
That being said, the film is undeniably good fun, and is really something the whole family can enjoy (a good measure of violence keeps it from being too juvenile). Just keep one eye closed to the faults and go along for a theme park-style ride.
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