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Toon Talk: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
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by Kirby C. Holt
PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME
Walt Disney Pictures
MPAA Rating: PG-13
The Sand Man Cometh
From Douglas Fairbanks in The Thief of Bagdad to Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia, the movies have always been enamored with heroic stars in fantastic epics set in the fabled mystic lands of the Middle East. With sprawling vistas of unending sand dunes as a backdrop, these adventures hold their audiences in thrall as they unfold, led by a larger-than-life main character who may or may not have a magic lamp or flying carpet on hand to aid in all the swashbuckling derring-do. The latest actor to take on such a role, in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (in theaters now), is Jake Gyllenhaal.
Best known for his performances as wide-eyed teens in October Sky and Donnie Darko and his Oscar nominated turn in the modern classic Brokeback Mountain, Gyllenhaal is an unexpected choice for a big Hollywood summer movie like this one, but he rises to the occasion. All toned and scruffy, he tackles (literally) each of the (many) action sequences with a leading man bravado and a sly gleam in his eyes that anchors this better-than-average video game adaptation. Without Jake, the movie would drift off the screen as easily as sands through an hourglass.
Gyllenhaal plays Dastan, an Aladdin-like “street rat” who, as a child, is singled out for his bravery and loyalty and adopted by the wise King of Persia (Ronald Pickup). Cut to the present, and Dastan, along with his two royal blooded foster brothers (Toby Kebbell and Richard Coyle), are laying siege on the holy city of Alamut, which is supposedly supplying weapons to the enemies of Persia. All is not what it seems though, and Dastan finds himself in possession of a mysterious dagger. When the king is murdered and Dastan is blamed, he takes flight, with the willful Princess Tamina (the beautiful Gemma Arterton, last seen in this year’s other sword and sandal epic, Clash of the Titans) in tow.
Dastan soon discovers the secret of this “Dagger of Time”, which allows its bearer to travel back in time thanks to some magical sand. The princess is sworn to protect the dagger, for if it falls into the wrong hands, all could be destroyed. It isn’t too hard to figure out who those wrong hands belong to in this case; like Hamlet, The Lion King, et al before this, it is the king’s jealous brother, Dastan’s uncle Nizam (Ben Kingsley, reigning in the ham such a role could have so easily brought out of him).
Originality isn’t exactly Prince of Persia’s strong point, but the inventive chase and fight scenes are. Director Mike Newell keeps it all moving at a fast clip, and he handles the fantasy elements here much better than in his last attempt in the genre, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. With the by-now standardized computer effects at a premium, the real scene-stealer of the movie is Alfred Molina as a money-loving, taxes-hating sheik who provides ample comic relief throughout.
I have no idea how well Prince of Persia the movie compares to the Prince of Persia video games, nor does it matter. What does matter is that it is a fun, action-packed fantasy well worth your time.
Toon Talk: Rating: B+
- The toys are back in the Disney event of the year, Toy Story 3 (Disney/Pixar, June 18).
- Nicolas Cage stars in the fantasy adventure The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (Disney, July 16).
- James and the Giant Peach lands as a special edition Disney DVD on August 3.
-- Kirby C. Holt
-- Logos by William C. Searcy, Magic Bear Graphics
Kirby is a lifelong Disney fan and film buff. He is also an avid list maker and chronic ellipsis user ... In addition to his Toon Talk reviews, Kirby is the creator of Movie Dearest, a blog for movie fans.
Took Talk: Disney Film & Video Reviews by Kirby C. Holt is posted whenever there's something new to review.
The opinions expressed by our Kirby C. Holt, and all of our columnists, do not necessarily represent the feelings of LaughingPlace.com or any of its employees or advertisers. All speculation and rumors about the future plans of the Walt Disney Company are just that - speculation and rumors - and should be treated as such.
-- Posted June 4, 2010