Written by: A Mob of Writers
Directed by: Mike Newell
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Artherton, Ben Kingsley
I’m glad to say this could have been a lot worse. Judging from the awful trailer, I was prepared for the worst. Prince of Persia is pretty much the same deal as other video game movies. There is one inescapable truth in the world of cinema and that is that movies based on video games are bad. Some are better than others and some fall into the category of “guilty pleasure” to some people, but generally speaking the video game format does not support the three act structure of the Hollywood film. Video games and their cinematic counterparts jump from level/set-piece to level/set-piece usually maintaining some semblance of a plot, but not to the standard of a decent action blockbuster.
Prince of Persia is actually one of the better video game movies I’ve seen, simply because it does have a plot which unfolds slowly throughout the film, rather than simply establishing motive early on then allowing the hero to pursue the villain for the rest of the movie. It also includes time travel and some very nice costumes. The film begins with the Persian army invading Alamut, a holy city that has been accused of forging weapons for an enemy army. As the story unfolds it turns out the Persian army was really only after a mystical dagger that is housed in Alamut that can control time. Read “weapons” as “WMD’s” and “mystical dagger” as “oil” and you’ve got a bunch of writers who aren’t as smart as they think they are and an audience rolling their eyes.
Jake Gyllenhaal has gone to great lengths here to transform himself into an action hero. He is surprisingly convincing but unfortunately the thin and cheesy material doesn’t do him justice. He has enough charisma, confidence and sex appeal to make a decent action star but it is difficult to judge from this performance because this is a very flimsy role. The rest of the cast are adequate too, but as with Gyllenhaal there is little for anybody to work with.
There’s enough running around, jumping up walls and CGI to keep the adrenaline junkie cinema-goer happy but not much else. This is an inoffensive but terribly dull action flick that gives nothing to the audience except spectacle. If that’s enough for you, then this should be right up your alley but I fear this is no Pirates of the Carribean.