I wish I could turn back time and get back the two hours I spent watching this bland and boring cash-in.
When you see the names attached to this Walt Disney super production, it seems like a promising film, but several missteps make the movie uninspiring and vapid. Despite having a great cast of actors and actresses (Jake Gyllenhaal, Ben Kingsley, Gemma Arteton and Alfred Molina) a director with an extensive and well-regarded filmography and pleasant special effects, Prince of Persia is nothing but a bland and boring cash-in that will do nothing but disappoint fans of the source material.
Set in the Persian empire, this movie follows Dastan, a man that as a child was adopted by the royal family. Now that he’s a prince, he’s leading the Persian army to the city of Alamut, enemies of the Persians. Luckily, Dastan practices some of sort of parkour, a discipline that involves someone moving from point A to point B without stopping. But after the successful invasion, he’s forced to marry princess Tamina to gain the trust of the Alamut people. During the announcement ceremony though, the king is poisoned, prince Dastan is blamed for the crime and the young man escapes the holy city with the princess. Now the Prince of Persia needs to find out who killed his father. Luckily, he has a dagger that allows him to turn back time.
Soon after you start watching this movie, you realize what’s wrong with it and there’s a lot to dislike here. Most characters are annoying, making it hard to care about what happens to them. The story isn’t exactly original (I guess that’s what happens when you adapt the story of a game into a film) and humorous moments fall flat. But Prince of Persia’s most significant offense is having a terrific cast and waste it on a ridiculously silly and forgettable film. Also, the action slows down during most action scenes which is definitely overused. I understand that this happens when one of the characters uses the dagger of time, but why does it have to occur every single time the prince fights someone?
The two-hour running time feels excessive for a movie of this kind. As a consequence, there are some filler scenes, including ostrich races, fights against snakes, an encounter with the Hansassins and so on. I don’t know how many of these elements were taken from the games (if any,) but when they all come together in the movie, it feels like too much too often.
Also, a lot of events are left unexplained. As you’d expect, Dastan and Tamina have several opportunities to rewind time using the dagger, so why wouldn’t you go back to when it all started and prevent the chain of events that would unfold afterwards? I guess that wouldn’t allow for the rest of the movie to happen, but it’s never addressed in any form. I mean, the characters constantly bring up a legend that says that going back in time for too long is forbidden and that anyone who tries it will be punished by the gods or whatever, but in the end, it simply feels like an excuse to fill a plot hole.
But not everything is this movie’s terrible, since there are some redeeming qualities here and there. When the movie focuses on adventure and action, what happens on screen’s at least entertaining to watch. Unfortunately, those moments are few and far between, since everyone’s always uttering stupid lines and talking and talking.
In the end, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is woefully uneven. This has the potential to be an entertaining adventure film, but most of the time is wasted on stupid dialogues, annoying characters and unexplained events. As a popcorn movie, The Sands of Time can work, but the entertaining parts are few and far between which makes the movie hard to recommend it wholeheartedly.