3 Stars


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Jerry Bruckheimer has made a career out of entertaining people during the summer months of blockbuster cinema.  From Beverly Hills Cop to the National Treasure series, his name – love his previous efforts or not – have become a staple of summer.  And, if that was his originating goal, then he certainly should be applauded for it.  His latest production, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, directed by the accomplished Mike Newell (Donnie Brasco, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), is another lighter-than-air crowd pleaser, but it seems this feature rests on the wrong side of being simple fluff.

Set in Disney’s version of Asia (where British accents and heavy eyeliner are the usual),  Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a street urchin rescued from a life of thievery by the Persian King, who has two other sons – both invested in becoming King.  Dastan grows up under their shadows and desperately wants to prove himself in battle.  When the Persian army decides to invade Princess Tamina’s (the stunning Gemma Arterton) peaceful stomping grounds, Dastan – encouraged by the plotting Nizam (Sir Ben Kingsly) to be his own hero – becomes the hero and winds up stealing a holy knife known as The Dagger of Time from the princess.  When Dastan finds himself blamed for the King’s murder, he is forced to jump ship and flee his home.  Thus, the adventure starts in which Dastan and Tamina team-up to ride the treacherous desert sands in order to beat time, stop Nizam, and make things right in the universe again…at least until it comes time to discuss a sequel.

Casting indie-favorite Gyllenhaal in this sword-and-sandal action piece might have been a good idea at one time (to draw in the Darko crowd), but he just doesn’t fit the mold; perhaps he is too good an actor for the “popcorn” material and that makes his performance wickedly rocky.  Sure, he can move well and (thanks to a wig and months of training) he looks the part (other than not being Persian), but he is not carrying this picture like he should.  It’s very American; very Han Solo – grinning all the way to the Death Star – but it just doesn’t come across as cleanly as it should; he has no awareness of the danger he is in.  His lion-sized mane and significant jaw-line certainly play into the part of Dastan, but, it appears, in the quieter moments of Newell’s film, that Gyllenhall is unsure of himself; he confidently smiles at inopportune moments and is just relatively uneasy until the final act.

Two actors save this film for patrons over the age of 20: Gemma Arterton and Alfred Molina (in a VERY Jack Sparrow type of role…except with Ostriches instead of rum).  When these two actors are on-screen, the film comes alive like it should; it sparkles with imagination and dazzles with comic escapades.  And when they are missing, their absence is certainly felt in long stretches of disinterest.  If anything, Prince of Persia is proof enough that Arterton is bound for greater things.

It wouldn’t be a lie to suggest that Disney wants another bankable franchise with this feature.  After all, Prince of Persia is basically Pirates of the Caribbean minus the water, but they have a long way to go; Pirates worked because it was an ensemble cast.  Prince of Persia doesn’t have the same vibe; it certainly won’t leave you with the feeling of wanting to see it again.  It might have the desert locale for something epic and the eye-popping effects of mightier features, but this story about a Prince who discovers a time-stopping dagger feels a little too self-contained for its own good.

Before stepping foot near this picture, one should be aware that Newell’s Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is based on a continuing video game series; one of epic non-linear proportions – where time is manipulated and the end of the game is never the end of the adventure.  That being said, lowering expectations – especially because of the film’s summer release – is to be expected and encouraged; this is not a thinking man’s epic; this isn’t even a throwback to the swaggering films of Douglas Fairbanks; this is a movie for twelve-year-old boys and girls and that’s it.

End of story.

Component Grades

3 Stars

3 Stars

DVD Experience
3 Stars


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - September 14, 2010
Screen Formats: 2.39
: English SDH, French, Spanish
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)



Working to deliver a serious and educational commentary this time, Raimi, producer Robert Tapert and Campbell gather together for this commentary; very intriguing for fans, but not nearly as goofy as the previously released version.


  • CineExplore: The Sands of Time (HD, 116 minutes)

Deleted Scene (HD, 2 minutes)

Sneak Peeks (HD, 15 minutes)

BD-Live Functionality