Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (M)

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Review byMatthew Turner13/05/2010

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 116 mins

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time just about redeems itself with a combination of impressive special effects and likeable performances, but it's also overlong, poorly paced, shockingly badly edited and disappointingly light on action.

What's it all about?
Directed by Mike Newell but, perhaps more importantly, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, Prince of Persia is based on the popular videogame and stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Dastan, the adopted son of Persian King Sharaman (Ronald Pickup), who's ordered to invade the holy city of Alamut, along with his ambitious uncle (Ben Kingsley) and his two brothers (Toby Kebbell and Richard Coyle). However, when a victory celebration goes horribly wrong, Dastan finds himself accused of murder and is forced to go on the run, with only beautiful Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton) for company.

Dastan soon discovers that Tamina is only after one thing, a mysterious time-tinkering dagger that he picked up in a fight with one of her guards. And when they eventually stop bickering, Dastan and Tamina realise that the dagger holds the key to restoring order and preventing a sinister plot to usurp power by whoever framed Dastan for murder.

The Good
Gyllenhaal makes a likeable lead and pulls off a passable (if unnecessary) British accent, while Arterton is on appealingly feisty form as Tamina; there's also a decent amount of chemistry between them, which, unfortunately, the script largely fails to exploit. The support cast are good too, particularly Alfred Molina, who provides the film's only real laughs as a sheikh on the make.

The film is beautifully shot, courtesy of John Seale's gorgeous cinematography, and the special effects are extremely impressive, especially during the exciting finale.

The Bad
The trailer for Prince of Persia seemed to promise a Pirates of the Caribbean-style adventure but it ultimately suffers from the comparison, since there's a surprising lack of humour and not nearly enough action. It's also much too long and shockingly badly edited in places, with poorly assembled fight sequences, characters suddenly changing location and several scenes apparently missing altogether. On top of that, Newell bungles the emotional climax of the film in a way that could easily have been fixed with a quick script tweak.

Worth seeing?
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is never less than watchable, thanks to likeable performances from Gyllenhaal and Arterton, but it's a bit of a letdown in the action department and not as much fun as it should have been.

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Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (M)
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Content updated: 22/01/2020 07:11

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