Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time [Blu-ray review]

Studio: Walt Disney Pictures / Jerry Bruckheimer Films

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley, Alfred Molina
Directed By: Mike Newell

Running Time: 116 minutes

Back Cover

In the spirit of the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, Walt Disney Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer Films transport you to the mystical lands of Persia for this wildly entertaining, epic action-adventure. It’s a race against time when a rogue prince (Jake Gyllenhaal) reluctantly teams up with a rival princess (Gemma Arterton) to safeguard a magical dagger that gives its possessor the power to reverse time and rule the world. Filled with death-defying escapes and unexpected twists at every turn — Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is a fun-filled adventure that will keep your pulse pounding long after the credits end.

Move Review

Prince of Persia: The Sands of TimePrince of Persia: The Sands of Time Is a seriously dumb movie made for people who don’t get insulted when every action, trick or plot device gets laid open, then explained just for good measure; who don’t notice that it takes no effort at all to find someone who’s run off into the desert… unless you happen to be the king of Persia or a pissed-off gambling mogul. The film also features a non-twist whereby the film’s true villain shows his hand — and turns out to be exactly who you thought it was in the first scene. And when the Persians invade a neighbouring city-state in search of weapons that it doesn’t have, but which happens to have the mother of all natural resources, it would be easy to call the film on a clumsy parallel to the real world — but that would be giving it too much credit.

That being said, the film is also a metric ton of fun. And not just action-movie fun, either. We’re talking about what happens when Fun, Exhilarating and Sexy hit the town and don’t come back ’til the money’s all spent. In other words, it’s an epic, if slightly dopey, blast. A lot of this hangs on two things: the fact that the film doesn’t take itself too seriously, and the flirty, antagonistic repartee between Jake Gyllenhaal’s Prince Dastan and Gemma Arterton’s Princess Temina. As the action sequences progress, the two slowly change from adversaries to sorta, kinda lovers. It’s all very cliché, but both actors manage to make it work well. Unfortunately, Tamina is Hollywood’s clueless concept of an great female foil: She’s fiery, she’s witty, she’s stunning and she can kick Prince Dastan’s butt… then she loses all her skill when Dastan fights for her life against the assassins (see also Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Maid Marian in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves). Sigh…

The real strengths of this movie are the tight dialogue, the fabulous visuals and the acting. And though nobody brings less than their A-game to the project, Alfred Molina’s tax-hating ostrich-race magnate is fabulous, and Ben Kingsley is a treat to watch. Also notable is Steve Toussaint, who makes a real impression with the limited screen time he gets.

There was a lot of noise made about this film being Disney’s next Pirates of the Caribbean. It’s not. It just isn’t as good a movie. But the sweeping visuals, reasonably snappy script and exciting action make is well worth a couple hours of your time.
Crave Factor – 8

Video

This film is gorgeous in HD. The picture quality is crystal-clear, the colours are spot-on. There’s enough film grain to keep things from looking plasticky, but the lines are still sharp and clear. Detail is amazing and the cinematography pays clear homage to the video game this film is named for, as well as Assassin’s Creed.
Crave Factor – 9

Audio

The sounds are as good as the images. The soundtrack is full and dynamic, though background sounds or effects never overpower the dialogue. And the music, though definitely not period-correct, is respectful to the subject. It is also lush and huge without ever being overdone.
Crave Factor – 9

Extras

There’s not much here. There’s a bunch of trailers and one deleted scene. Most of the work went into a second track of the movie that includes embedded making-of mini-featurettes. As you watch the film, every now and again a dagger will appear the corner of the screen. Activating the dagger will bring up a behind-the-scenes look at what went into making the scene. It’s a very cool feature. But really: one deleted scene? And nary a blooper reel? Come on.
Crave Factor – 6

Menus and Packaging

The menus are attractive and work smoothly. In fact, even the loading screen is well-designed. The packaging is fairly typical, and includes the Blu-ray disc, a DVD and digital copy. Of course, there’s a wasteful cardboard sleeve over the case, as with so many other Blu-rays. The extra sleeve doesn’t get any less pointless with repetition.
Crave Factor – 8

Conclusion

Though Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time isn’t a fabulous movie, it’s still a good time. And, judging by what we’ve seen come out of Hollywood over the past several years, it’s also head and shoulders above what anyone can reasonably expect from a film based on a video game. The movie is fast and exciting enough that you can forgive the dumber aspects, and the sound and visuals will leave you dazzled. But at the end of the day, it’s probably more of a renter than a wicked buy.

Overall Crave Factor

8

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