The Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

A Neverending Story


01 June 2010| No Comments on The Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time     by Sean Chavel


Neverending. Only minutes into Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time passed before I had the desire the play one of the old versions of the video game over sitting through the rest of the movie. Even for blockbuster movie nonsense, this one takes the cake. It tries so damn hard, as well as pathetically, to be about something historic in the times of 6thcentury Persia. In the final banal scenes, it turns into a parable equivalent to how the United States found no WMD’s in Afghanistan. Uh huh.

The film often has an impressive look but it fades from memory like quicksand, possibly because there is nothing meaty in the storytelling for you to chew on. Oh, how the filmmakers try to rope a seemingly complex story out of all this nonsense. Jake Gyllenhaal, sporting a British accent, is the adventurer prince Dastan who is framed by somebody in the palace, by somebody likely also with a British accent.

Gyllenhaal (“Jarhead”), a born American, has been in a lot of terrific movies where he beautifully underplays his characters with a dash of humbleness. Now he is in leather-strapped warrior outfits spouting tough-gruel dialogue like he’s Orlando Bloom as Maximus. When he gets lovey-dovey eyes then that’s the Gyllenhaal we know, a lover not a fighter. A Town & Country boy, not a Persian Empire warrior. Anyway, it’s about time to ask this: Do audiences worldwide accept that British accents pretty much cover any foreign culture from any time in the past? Let’s hope not.

Central to the plot, Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton, “Quantam of Solace”) is dragged through the political upheaval, at one point enslaved, but in family movie terms. She has a love and hate relationship with Dastan, but at first it’s just hate, and then it’s bantering, and then the rest is formula. Arterton is a confused actress who doesn’t have a clue on how to modulate the love-hate formula to endear the audience. Her screen personality is more akin to poison than to anything else. Ben Kingsley and Alfred Molina, cast for their pedigree, don’t add much class either despite their reputations – they parody themselves.

What’s left is a CGI-heavy action film (even the snakes are CGI), with lots of rapid cutting to no positive effect. The awe is brief, though existent, in the swirling aerial shots that reveal an entire city. But the messy shooting and editing style is rampant, and director Mike Newell (“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”) has no sense of crowd control. The worst special effects are the core ones dealing with a magic dagger that turns back the sands of time. These effects are video game similes cranked to a slow-motion effect that only lets the eye wander endlessly upon the lousy CGI.

The public statement that Disney made recently reflected that the company will make no more traditional films at all, focusing entirely on animation, franchises and superheroes. With this insultingly bad cast, incoherently scripted and disjointedly directed formula product, Walt Disney spotlights its directive in company soullessness.

116 Minutes. Rated PG-13.


Film Cousins: “Conan the Barbarian” (1982); “Conan the Destroyer” (1984); “Red Sonja” (1985); “Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring” (2001).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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