Monday, May 31, 2010


     In recent years, movies based on video games have usually not gone over very well. Since such bombs in the '90s like "Super Mario Bros." or "Mortal Kombat" and even in more recent years with "Tomb Raider" and "Resident Evil" which were somewhat faithful but with others like "Doom" and don't get me started on "Bloodrayne", will we ever see a video game movie which lives up to namesake? Amazingly enough it took the producers of the highly successful "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies and Disney to do it! "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" the movie is based on the 2003 Ubisoft video game which is part of the "Prince of Persia" series created by Jordan Mechner in 1989. Directed by Mike Newell ("Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire") and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, "Sands of Time" aspires to equal Disney's previous Action-Adventure hit, the "Pirates of the Carribean" trilogy. Although it may not live up to "Pirates" status "Sands of Time" is a solid fantasy story with some impressive action. "Prince of Persia" stars Jake Gyllenhaal ("Donnie Darko", "Brokeback Mountain") as Dastan, once an orphan living on the streets who is adopted by King Sharaman (Ronald Pickup) and raised by the king's brother Nizam (Ben Kingsley). Dastan, along with his brothers Garsiv (Toby Kebbell) and Tus (Richard Coyle), attack the holy city of Alamut, who are suspected of selling arms to their enemies, they encounter the beautiful Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton) who is the guardian of the "Dagger or Time" which controls the sands of time. When the King is mysteriously murdered, Dastan is falsely accused and he escapes with the princess only to discover the secret of the dagger which is the key to the conspiracy in finding the King's killer.
    The amazing stunt work of Dastan leaping from building to building was inspired by the martial arts of parkour (the art of movement). The Dagger of Time, made its appearance in the "Sands of Time' video game and is the central plot point in the movie as well. This isn't the first time Disney has addressed a Persian/Middle East setting as one of its most famous animated movies "Aladdin" is set, however the biggest problem both critics and fans have is none of the cast is even remotely "Persian"! It seems Hollywood is returning to the old trend of casting foreign characters with usually very-white British or American stars such as Yul Brynner as the King of Siam in "The King and I" (1956) or even John Wayne staring as Genghis Kahn (No kidding!) in "The Conqueror" (1956) or Ben Kingsley (who coincidentally stars in "Sands of Time" also) playing "Gandhi" in 1982! As with most of the cast who is either English/British or American, the lead Jake Gyllenhaal even adopts an English accent (i.e. Johnny Depp in "Pirates of the Caribbean") which really makes no sense at all! Despite the "racial" inequities of the movie, "Prince of Persia" is still an exciting adventure in the style of "Pirates of the Caribbean" with a little "Indiana Jones" action thrown in. For those like myself who doubted Jake "Bubble-boy" Gyllenhaal could grow up to be an action star, we were sorely mistaken!
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