Prince of Persia
Dragging that horse to see the film should be considered animal cruelty.

Theatrical Release Date: 05/28/2010
Director: Mike Newell
Cast: Jake Gylenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley, Alfred Molina, Toby Kebbell, Richard Coyle, Steve Toussaint, Ronald Pickup

Vying to snag all of the Y chromosomes avoiding “Sex and the City 2″ like a Baby Ruth floating in a public pool, “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” is attempting to put an end to terrible movies adapted from video games. By luring a good director (Mike Newell), veteran actors (which include Ben Kingsley and Alfred Molina) and having a budget larger than Oprah’s daily audience giveaway package, there were a lot of indications this might work.

Working against it is the idea that any of these cast members look Persian, a script written like it was paint by number and action scenes on par with the recent big budget dud, “Clash of the Titans (2010)” (critical miss, not financial sadly).

Gamers know the basic storyline here: A prince (Jake Gyllenhaal) must use a mystical dagger that allows the bearer to rewind time slightly to correct a missed jump or unblocked attack in order to save the world. And as storytelling 101 would have it, a beautiful princess (Gemma Arterton), wily Shylock (Molina), and shady King’s counselor (Kingsley) are thrown in the mix for good measure.

The film unfolds as one would expect, with Arterton and Gyllenhaal initially at odds with one another, only to succumb to their growing attraction right as the proverbial camel droppings hit the sandstorm. Along the way, our hero proves his just morals, rights all the wrongs and does a little parkour because it’s a staple of the video game.

Newell does a fine job of moving the film from predictable setup to obvious result, the actors do what they can with a wooden script (one of the screenwriters wrote the 1989 version of “Punisher” and “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights”) and the effects look fairly polished. However, none of it grabbed my attention or made me care in the slightest what would happen next.

The much hyped parkour action is done in a very tame manner, making me think Newell and his team should have done a bit more homework on this issue, maybe watching “District B13” would have been a good start. Instead of really showing off the amazing action that was possible, it’s merely a bit of watching stunt men jump a few narrow gaps between buildings and employ the upper body strength the junior high school P.E. teacher graded you on to climb a few ledges. When it comes to some of the larger stunts, the CGI is so obvious and ridiculous, they might as well have put a Spider-Man costume on Gyllenhaal’s digital double.

Sadly, there’s really not much else to say about the whole project. It’s all very bland and uninspiring. And by subtitling the film “The Sands of Time”, they had better not have the idea to make any more of these. A 2.5 out of 5, “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” isn’t terrible enough to enjoy laughing at, nor is it good enough to be worth the price of admission. Just wait until it hits the free cable portion of its lifespan if you’re at all interested.

And as a favor to all, I’ve woven a bit of html magic and you can now click the hourglass to leave this review far, far behind you.

Sands of Time