July Issue 2010

By | Arts & Culture | Movies | Published 14 years ago

In Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, ancient Persia has been revamped in a way that is not quite ancient. The story? It may be nonsensical, unoriginal and at times awkwardly executed, but it keeps you watching, not despite these characteristics but maybe because of them. The sheer pace of the story keeps one entertained at best and questioning the absurdity of it at worst.

Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Prince Dastan, a street kid adopted by King Sharaman of Persia, who goes on to become a mighty warrior and prince. Dastan, his royal brothers and uncle Nazim (Ben Kingsley) invade the holy city of Alamut when a spy falsely claims that this holy city has been supplying weapons to enemies of Persia. Here they find a magical dagger protected by Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton). The dagger contains sand that turns back time when the button on top is pushed.

But soon after, Dastan is framed for his father’s death and escapes with the beautiful princess to protect the dagger’s secret and clear his name. He not only falls in love with Tamina, the princess with the perma-pout, but also learns the true motives behind Alamut’s invasion. Together they not only have to protect the dagger from falling into the wrong hands, but also fight Dastan’s internal foes to save the empire.

Kudos to Gyllenhaal for his performance. He doesn’t let this action-flick, with all its splendid sets, battle scene and graphics, overshadow his performance. Despite being the hero of the film, he managed to keep it lighthearted. And his leading lady, Arterton, does not let him hog the limelight. She is not ‘princessy’ but a real princess staying on course along with being beautiful all at once. Kingsley’s presence is imposing, sinister and unintentionally funny. The chemistry between Gyllenhaal and Arterton is obvious with their continuous banter and then devotion to their common cause.

The fact that this was a video game-turned-film is apparent in the way the fast-paced action scenes were shot.

Finally, one can find a little peace offering in the film from Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer to Iran, or even the Muslim world. Unlike the uncivil and evil depictions of Persians in past movies like 300 and Alexander, it comes as a breath of fresh air that they are portrayed as a loyal people this time round, especially the character of the peace-loving Prince Dastan.