Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Video Game movies have actually had more victories than it would outwardly seem. Some of my favorite VGfilms have been made only in recent years: Resident Evil, DOA: Dead or Alive, Hit-Man and of course Silent Hill. Unfortunately the raging fanboys always like to tear these films a new one and therefore only the really big successes ever receive any credit. Prince of Persia would definitely qualify in this latter part.

Disney has not produced a Video Game movie since their unfortunate involvement in the fiasco that turned into the live-action Super Mario Bros. film in 1993, but with the support of the Godfather of all Action Films (Jerry Bruckheimer) the historic, fantasy action-epic known as Sands of Time whisks the audience away into a tale that could have just as easily come from the pages of 1001 Arabian Nights as it could have from the video-games baring the name.

The film manages to find that pace of a classic action fantasy epic. The action scenes are brutally quick but thankfully well shot. The comedy also works, especially the Sheik Amar steals the show in this department. The film however also has a fairly dark story at its core and thus the film doesn’t go quite so over-the-top in its character portrayals as it perhaps does in its action-scenes.

The plot itself is well set up but its time-shift angle which really has its climax towards the end did leave me scratching my head a little. There aren’t that many surprising plot-twists either but the premise of the film does stay intact through the whole hoolabaloo. Dastan’s acrobatics, the story, the comedy and the intense battle-scenes with the Hassassins in the film’s latter part are indeed the strongest aspects of this film.

The few weaknesses that bothered me was really the onscreen relationship between Dastan and Tamina. This angle of the film started off promisingly with neither side trusting the other – but when the film later tries to convince that these characters have made amends to one another I just wasn’t convinced. The film should have taken more time in my view to develop the relationship rather than trying to systematically humiliate either character until they magically fall in love sitting in a tent together during a sandstorm.

The other problem I have is a weakness I find in most action-movies today and that’s the excessively heavy use of CG towards the film’s ending. No doubt the crumbling ruins being washed away by tidal waves of sand couldn’t have probably been made any other way but the bullet-time arrows were just a little too much for my taste. There are a few times the film’s editing could have also been a bit better, mainly towards the end when the action became more intense.

However in the roaring successes of Video Game movies there are still unfortunately few names. These are the films that both the avid gamer and the regular joe movie goer will enjoy just as much. Mortal Kombat, Pokémon and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider are ones that came before. Now we can add a new name to that list, Prince of Persia.

Rating: 3,5/5

Score breakdown:

  • +1 Excellent action, actually felt like the game
  • +1 Finally, Ben Kingsley in a good video-game movie
  • +1 Alfred Molina as Sheik Amar, adds some much needed comedy
  • +½ The character dynamic between Dastan and Tamina was good…
  • -½ …but that tent-scene was pushing it a bit
  • -1 I didn’t entirely like the time-travel aspect in the film’s finale