Disney tries its hand at adapting a video game and delivers a wasted opportunity of a film in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.
It is disappointing, since the elements were there for a cracking action adventure movie: a dashing hero; a beautiful heroine; sinister villains; and Jerry Bruckheimer’s deep pockets to make it all look oh so pretty.
What a shame, then, that the films major faults lies within the choices made by its director, the usually solid Mike Newell. Simply put, his attempts at technical wizardry are beyond his capabilities.
Newell’s struggle to couple the glossy with the gritty makes for frustrating viewing.
When he is not swooping the pixel landscapes of his poorly constructed digital backdrop, Newell often has his camera framed too close on the action, at which point he opts for shaky cam theatrics, a bad move for a film which should have its viewers absorb the epic production design, rather than thrusting them headfirst into a land of sand and pixels, the end result as if Tony Scott and Shekhar Kapur got together and birthed an action movie.
Its story does not fair any better. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Prince Dastan, a street rat adopted by the king at a young age, who now finds himself the patsy in a coup for the crown. His only ally is the beautiful Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton), who is also guardian of a magical dagger that can turn back time.
Both Gyllenhaal and Arterton (actors who are much better than the roles given here) overcome the clunky material with the fact that they are really, really, really good looking.
Gyllenhaal is especially good in his first, fully fledged action role, long haired and muscle bound, jumping and weaving through on set locations as if it were his own parkour playground.
It is a performance full of charm and taut physicality, marred only by the fact that someone couldn’t Hold. There. Camera. Still.
Wonder if it’s too late for Bruckheimer to go back in time and change director?