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Prince of Persia Possibly Best Video Game Adaptation

Published May 28, 2010 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Images property of Walt Disney Pictures
Prince of Persia Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time may be the best video game movie ever by default. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Mortal Kombat, but Prince is good fun, even if it’s still not great. I think I say that about every video game movie that comes out, because they’re still forgettable by the time the next one comes out.

Review: Prince of Persia

This one does capture the action of the game series: climbing ledges, swinging around and bouncing off walls. Jackie Chan’s been doing that for 30 years, even Errol Flynn and Douglas Fairbanks before him. Now they call it Parkour.

It’s quick cut but well shot so you can see the fighting, the wall runs and everything. They do a really good job cutting between Jake Gyllenhaal and stuntmen. That’s good for two reasons. One, you get the best of both their abilities. Two, it’s real filmmaking. It’s thrilling to see any real person doing these moves and it’s edited with high energy.

The stuff they definitely get right from the video game is the corner jumping, wall running, gap sliding and ledge grabbing. They even have a shot where he grabs the ledge and pulls himself up. That’s all I wanted. They do use the dagger to go back and undo his death a few times, so the movie gives him multiple one-ups.

For dagger fans, there’s not much sand left in the movie so they use it sparingly. It definitely seemed like there were some more important times they could have used the dagger than the times they chose to in the movie. Some situations make it impossible to use the dagger in time, but they certainly could have saved some lives instead of just redoing the snake battle. The penultimate dagger use is good climactic drama.

You won’t care about the characters or the plot. It’s still just a cocky hero and a sassy heroine, some plot machinations to mismatch them and frame the heroes. The mythology isn’t any captivating legend. It’s just the maguffin. They put on a good show though.

If you are paying attention, the story is actually about the bad guy looking for weapons of mass destruction in a foreign kingdom. Only there aren’t any and he’s actually using it as a distraction for his real motives. It doesn’t actually matter because the plot’s not important, but it’s actually really about that. Well, it’s either WMDs or The Phantom Menace, whichever way you prefer to look at the bold but meaningless metaphor.

Seriously, don’t pay attention though because it’s just cliché mismatched partners bickering and a lot of explaining backstory. Because they’re played by good actors, the characters make the superficial journeys, for the prince to learn humility and the princess to become loving in the end. I zoned out for a some of the talking though. It doesn’t matter. Just watch the action.

It’s a pretty movie. The costumes, the fabulous bodies, the landscapes all look epic. CG sand is not good but the rest is fine. The big castle sequences are Ridley Scott stuff. You definitely haven’t seen it all in the trailer. They saved a lot for the movie. Some sequences are just generic fights but there are three or four good Parkour bits. The finale is more of a standard action movie climbing, grabbing climax. What can you do? Can’t win ‘em all.

Question about one of my references? Want to discuss? Follow me on Twitter @FredTopel.

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Sources: Images property of Walt Disney Pictures

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