Considering what a 'flop' this was for Disney and the ensuing critic back lash it received, I went into "Prince Of Persia" with some seriously low expectations. I also love the video games that it was based on, so count that as another thing going against it. Luckily, the film was fun and knew that it wasn't going to be able to touch on the darker and more violent elements of the games (it is Disney, man!) so it went for a slightly more cartoon-y vibe that worked for its family fun entertainment approach. The film still really isn't all that good and seems half assed in most categories, but it did achieve a nice fun lazy afternoon watch entertaining value to it. That counts for something right?
Dastan was taken off the streets as a child by the king of Persia. He saw courage, strength, and righteousness in the boy and decided to take him into the family. Now its 15 years later and when a questionable siege on a peaceful city turns into an assassination of the king, many blame poor Dastan for the attack. Suddenly he finds himself trying to clear his name and uncovering a bigger conspiracy. With the help of a Princess from this sieged city and the power of a special dagger that seems to be able to turn back time second by second, Dastan has to stop the end of the world from occurring.
The entire time I was watching "Prince Of Persia" I was comparing it to the remake, and highly enjoyable, "The Mummy" from a decade ago (yeah, its been that long!). Half the time the film seemed out right trying to do everything that that film did correctly and most of the time failing at it. The spunky and adventurous seemingly impossible to kill leading charmer. The courageous and beautiful leading lady who desperately hates (but eventually falls in love with) the leading man. The quirky supporting semi-hero cast. The villain ready to unleash a mystic force. The cloaked assassins. The list goes on and on. This isn't necessarily a bad thing but "Prince Of Persia", despite some charm here and there, just lacks on all of those elements. Hell, even the general look of the film seems like "The Mummy" (its hard to change up deserts I guess). The entire movie I couldn't shake this comparison and in the end it hurt the overall viewing I had.
Its also hard not to be disappointed with our cast. With some questionable casting choices, starting with one of my normal favs Jake Gyllenhaal as the lead, and some poor way to family friendly dialogue I felt like many of the people were underused. Kingsley is getting to be hard to follow in his film choices lately despite his amazing abilities and even Alfred Molina shows up with some heavy makeup and a bad wig. All the acting is sub par from all of these greats and it makes this film somewhat of a chore to get through.
Now that I'm done ranting about what made "Prince Of Persia" a rather eye rolling experience, lets get to what the film did right. Action. Although Jerry Bruckheimer and his production company tends to over gloss their films, he does action pretty well. And this film does it nicely. Once again many of the sequences seem to be stolen from other adventure films here, but they are exciting and fun to watch. The filmmakers did a rather solid job bringing the action from the games to life with running on walls, leaping off of pillars, and sword jostling with some cloaked guys. That I have to applaud. Also, there is still a charm to this story that benefits these sequences. Although, in honesty, I could have cared less who lived and died here, I did want to see what action they would bring up next and that makes a film somewhat exciting. This film gets 2 stars for that.
In the end, "Prince Of Persia" might be some family fun entertainment to watch for everyone, but it misses some serious opportunities to push some envelopes. Solid action pieces can't always carry a film and for one so plot heavy, it doesn't here. It has its charm but is ultimately scarred by its odd dialogue, point and shoot directing, slightly poor editing, and underused actors. Perhaps I ought to go and replay the games now and refresh my memories on how good those were.
Written By Matt Reifschneider
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