Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time – A Review

Let me start by saying that I knew this was a computer game and a fairly popular one, but that was all.  I had no idea about the storyline and having only seen one trailer, my expectations was for nothing more than a fun action romp in a fantasy setting with plenty of parkour.

The plot involves Dastan an orphan that was adopted by the King Sharaman and is the youngest of the 3 princes of Persia. Persia being the ancient empire that stretched from the Euprahtes in the west to the Indus River in the East and from the caucasus, Caspian and aral seas in the North to the persian gulf and the Gulf of Oman in the South.

Life is good and Persia is revered by all until they invade the holy city of Alamut where Dastan encounters Princess Tamina, who it turns out is the guardian of the Sands of Time.  From there on in, everything goes to hell, or at least the ancient Persian equivalent of hell and Dastan and Tamina end up on the run together against the backdrop of the Moroccan desert, encountering dodgy businessmen, African knife throwers, ostriches and deadly assassins. And I have to say the host of extras, sorry, supporting artistes, gave the film a grandiose feel like they used to have back in the day.

The scenery is stunning and the cgi sets are equally as impressive, giving a wonderful impression of the grandeur of this ancient culture.  The action scenes and free running set pieces had me grinning and moving in my seat, eager to join in. The assassins were very cool and there was a fight scene with the aforementioned African knife thrower that I particularly enjoyed.  As an actor myself there is no doubting how hard these guys had to work for this movie.

I liked the plot, I thought it hung together really well.  I thought all the characters motivations made sense to me and I liked the thorny interplay between dastan and Tamina. I was pleased that their romance did not seem too forced to me.  However I have to say that despite that I struggled with a lot of the acting including Glyenhaal and  Arterton.  Which kind of brings me to one of my biggest problems with the film?  The accents really brought me out of the movie.  You have a Moroccan back drop, giving a convincingly Persian feel, lavish costumes doing the same, a thousand Moroccan extras on set and a supporting cast of brown skinned talent and yet all the main speaking parts are as white as you like with English accents; in fact Jake Gyllenhaal even had a dialect coach helping him get a slightly London, east end, cockney type accent (which to his credit he did quite well).  It just didn’t work for me, the accents constantly jarred with everything else I was seeing and hearing, they may as well have ‘browned up’ as far as I was concerned.  If you’re going to hire a dialect coach why not get the coach to teach the cast an authentic accent.

Is this one of the best films of the year, I don’t think so, but I came out of the cinema having been thoroughly entertained and as time went by I kept remembering ‘bits’ I liked, and then more bits, and then a couple more.  This is undoubtedly one of the best video game to movie adaptations to date (which isn’t saying much). At the end of the day I got what I expected a fun, epic, action movie. Although it did dip a little in the middle and would have benefitted by a tighter edit .  Like most of the films I’ve seen in the last few years, take out 20 minutes and you will have a far better movie.

GS Reporter: Monts

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