I have not played any of the original Prince of Persia video games with the first one having been released in November of 2003 by Ubisoft but I am a little familiar with them. Combining state of the art graphics, great action, the ability to turn back time and a pretty good story line, the original games released on Playstation 2, Xbox and Gamecube at the time were met with rave reviews. Now Disney has chosen to bring us the big screen adaptation of one of the best selling games in this generation. With Jerry Bruckheimer producing, you have to expect this project to be quite exciting, especially after the success of Pirates of the Caribbean which he also had his producing hand in.
Favorite to take over as the future Peter Parker, Jake Gyllenhall plays Dastan, an orphaned boy who is adopted by the king of Persia, King Sharaman (Ronald Pickup), and taken to live in his palace with his two sons, Tus (Richard Coyle), Garsiv (Tobey Kebbell) and his brother, Nizam (Ben Kingsley). As they grow older, they head up the Persian army and lead it into battle. They receive a tip from a spy that the city of Almat is selling very well crafted weapons to their enemies. Upon learning this, they decide to storm the city to retrieve these weapons themselves. During the attack, Dastan manages to wrestle away a dagger from an adversary. After claiming the city, the brothers offer the princess of Almat, Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton), to their father as a gift. Tus wishes to make her his latest wife to join the two cities together. He gives Dastan a religious robe to also present to his father but soon after the king dons the garment, it starts to smoke heavily and terribly burn him. The surrounding crowd assumes Dastan has poisoned the King and try to seize him. Tamina assists him in escaping and the two flee the city together. During a rest, Tamina attacks Dastan and tries to retrieve the dagger from him. In the struggle, Dastan accidently uses the dagger and discovers its power to turn back time.
The middle of the film has Dastan trying to figure out why his brother would want to kill their father while also trying to stop Tamina from stealing the dagger back from him. While secretly attending his father’s funeral, Dastan informs his uncle, Nizam, of his theories and of the dagger he has found. During this exchange, Dastan realizes that his uncles hands are burnt before Nizam tries to have him apprehended which leads him to conclude that he is actually the one behind the murder of his father and is the one trying to gain the power of the dagger. He then sets out on a quest to stop him and clear his name of the crime he has been accused of.
This film was one of the better video game to film adaptations I have seen. It had me thinking of a Raiders of the Lost Ark/The Mummy combination. The plot was very simple but seemed purposely made that way as to not take away from the action and special effects. One of the main ingredients in the recipe for this movie was the use of Parkour. An art of free running of using simply one’s body to over and around adamant objects such as buildings, fences, walls among others. It was contained in other films like Casino Royale and Live Free or Die Hard. Dastan was the main user of this entertaining art using it to evade palace guardsman during their pursuit of him. Scenes of him jumping from rooftop to rooftop to balcony back to rooftop were in abundance. Whenever you thought he was cornered or in a jam, he of course made it out.
Acting wise, almost everyone seemed to have an English accent. Gemma Arterton is from England so I wasn’t really surprised but for a story that takes place in and around Persia, I thought the audience would receive a little more Persian culture in the film. But alas, it is Hollywood. Other than the accents, the acting was decent but not the best I’ve seen in an action film. But for a Disney movie, it was pretty on par. The comedy relief came in the form of Alfred Molina who played a taxes-hating trader/robber who ran illegal businesses outside of the city. He and his gang of other traders/robbers try to kill Dastan but end up helping him in his plight eventually. Along with the Parkour stunts, the special effects are the real stars of the movie. The usage of the dagger is very well done including making half the body of whoever is using the dagger to become enflamed. This effect is contained in one the sequels to the original game, it transfers onto the big screen vividly and very well done.
Prince of Persia is one of those thrill ride movies that action junkies will appreciate and their little action junkie jr.’s will love. Pretty family friendly with some scenes containing blood but nothing gory; it is a Disney flick. I give this film “4 mystical daggers that can turn back time out of 5”.
“This is a secret government killing society. That's why I don't pay taxes!”