Thursday, 27 May 2010

The Prince of Persia: Movie Review

The Prince of Persia: Movie Review

Prince of Persia
Rating: 6/10
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Alfred Molina, Ben Kingsley
Director: Mike Newell
Blockbuster season's clearly underway at the moment.
What with Iron Man and Robin Hood pulling them in, it seems the action flick's clearly in Hollywood's mind this year.
And Prince of Persia is no exception.
Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Dastan, a young street urchin orphan boy who's taken into the Persian royal court at an early age and who comes to love the ruler as if he were his dad.
However, later on as the Persians are laying siege to a city they believe is hiding weapons which have helped their enemies (spot the parallel here), Dastan finds himself cast out from the royal court after he's believed to have assassinated the king.
Forced into hiding and into an uneasy alliance with Princess Tamina (a dusky sultry Gemma Arterton) Dastan tries to unravel the plot and figure out exactly what a sacred dagger has to do with his father's death and the end of the world.
How could the Prince of Persia go wrong? Practically everybody I've talked to about this film has had something to drool about - whether it's the buffed up Jake Gyllenhaal or the doe eyed Gemma Arterton, there's been something laid out for everyone.
And yet, somehow this adaptation of a phenomenally popular computer game just doesn't seem to get it 100% right on the big screen.
From the opening chase scene through to the FX laden final scenes, the problem is this film is relying a little too much on its source material - and the medium it came from. That is, it feels like it's a computer game on the big screen.
Scenes are held together by one of three plot devices - either a fight scene, a chase scene or plot exposition. There's also some humour thrown in in the form of Alfred Molina's comedy relief Sheik (and his brilliant ostrich racing - when was the last time you saw that on screen?) but it feels like less than the sum of its parts.
That's not to say though that the Persian recreation is anything less than stunning; with swooping camera work, it weaves through the city skylines creating a wondrous version of Persia.
But there's too much which feels like a misfire; the villain feels like something out of pantomime (and is just missing a handlebar moustache to twirl), Jake and Gemma have little chemistry together - and Jake spends most of the time mixing accents and smirking.

I have a feeling this could be the start of franchise - and I'd be willing to give another film a go because there's plenty of potential in these characters - but Prince of Persia aims for family blockbuster fun. It may succeed in parts thanks to some pretty good (but unrelenting) action scenes but a disappointing script sees this ancient story confined to the desert.

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