Kicking the Prince and Stealing His Persia
About a year and a half ago, the original creator of the Prince of Persia series, Jordan Mechner, told the world that the film production of his creation was a fantastic representation of his games. He assured the fans that he was directly involved in the direction of the film and was on set for the filming of most of the sequences. Well, I am a Prince of Persia fan and I am here to tell you that Jordan Mechner is a total liar who fooled his fan base with the usual empty promises that Hollywood executives are normally the culprit of. Mike Newell’s (or should I say Jerry Bruckheimer’s?) film starts off strong, but ultimately becomes a complete waste of production money and your valuable time. Is this because the movie deviates from the game version?
Hell no! The movie just kills itself and literally negates its entire purpose of being by the last 5 minutes. This is heartbreaking because the opening 30 minutes of the film are exciting, interesting, and stay faithful to the source material with even some hilarious nods to gameplay elements from the video game of the same name. However, the latter is merely bonus points for the fans. Seriously though, Mike Newell and Bruckheimer ride this property to the ground once they started treating it like a video game movie, rather than a run of the mill action adventure which is what the game is by the end of the day. And with the series creator at your disposal at all times, how the hell can you possibly mess this thing up this bad?
The Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time follows a human ab muscle named Prince Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal), who is a prince that was adopted by the king of Persia after he did a lot of flips on the roof of buildings while saving a young boy from one of the palace guards. The King sees this and claims to adopt him because he had courage, but I think he had kind of a boner for parkour and abs. Anyways, 15 years later the sons of the King attack a holy city because their uncle (Ben Kingsley) says that they have been producing really awesome swords that might cut someone in the future. The Persian army seizes the city primarily because Dastan can do awesome acrobatic moves and tie people up to use them as an anchor to swing into other areas of the city walls; why the hell isn’t that in the game! Dastan finds the dagger of time, the ruler of the holy city (Gemma Arterton) is proclaimed his wife, Dastan is framed for the Kings death (which was sweet), and the rest of the film is a mediocre and pointless adventure to put the dagger in something in order to prevent something else from happening- more on this later.
- The opening siege of the holy city of Alamut is really good and brings up memories of Lawrence of Arabia. It’s not as good as Lawrence, but I felt like I was watching a film similar to it, which was very welcome indeed considering that modern cinema has pretty much forgotten how to give audiences an old school adventure like that. Also, this is the part of the movie where they truly believed in the source material. I was watching with a smile on my face because it was the same way that the game kicked off. Not to mention the many Easter eggs for the fans of the series, one of which had my girlfriend and I laughing in our seats with pure enjoyment.
- The chemistry between Jake and Gemma is kind of fun to watch on screen as there are some good exchanges between the two of them. Their relationship gets pretty sullied by the end of the film though but again, more on that later.
- Many of the set designs were amazing to look at. They all more or less stayed true to the art direction of the game series and in some cases the movie surpasses them. I wish that the production crew was allowed to film more scenes with the sets in more of an active role, because that could have saved some scenes from becoming boring pieces of mediocrity.
- The editor of this movie, and director Mike Newell need to go back to film school. With the opening siege aside, the fight scenes are so choppy and filmed so close to the actors that you often have no idea what the hell is going on besides the actors are swinging their arms at each other really fast. No excuse here at all, especially when most of what makes a video game great is THE CAMERA SYSTEM TO SHOW THE PLAYER WHAT IS GOING ON. Way to go Newell and company, a bunch of programmers from Ubisoft are better at camera work than you are.
- The editing is goddamn terrible. Scenes change rapidly, people come out of nowhere into the frame, one of the time sequences is done so poorly you can not help but become infuriated. The progression of scenes at the film’s climax are cut so quick and terrible that I had to look away from the screen for a few moments.
- Oh sweet 6 pound, 3 ounce baby Jesus is the plot laughable. The film consists of constant meandering with no purpose at all until the last 40 minutes. I am not kidding, about an hour of the movie is just the prince and his squeeze walking around the desert with no objective at all. They just talk and the prince pretty much tells every single person he meets , “I didn’t kill my father.” Too bad no one on screen or in the audience gives a shit.
- Endings are always important to both films and video games. They bring closure to the audience and generally determine how you will feel walking out of the theater or away from the television. This movie’s ending is one big ball of terrible that just rides down a slope of inconsistence until it reaches a new high speed of atrocious and splatters onto the horrified look on your face. I will not ruin it, but the film literally deletes almost everything you’ve just watched. No apocalyptic sand storm (which is what we are led to believe), no awesome fight scene, no emotional moment at all.
At the end of the day Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is not a boring mediocre piece of Hollywood trash because it did not follow the game. Instead it is because the production team had absolutely no faith in the source material that they were adapting. The action and emotion within the game is present and very good. It is not like the film could not have borrowed directly from it, they had the creator at their disposal. If I could rewind time, I would find Jordan Mechner two years ago and tell him that if he believes in the powers of Hollywood then he will inevitably be cast aside and embarrassed by them. Some people seem to think that because this is a big budget film from both Disney and Bruckheimer, then it will open up the door for other video game movie adaptations. I think that is only possible if the film makes a shit ton of money. The more likely scenario is that the movie will do okay at the box office and on DVD, but when Bruckheimer and company question why the film was not so well received they will blame it on video games being too shallow of a medium. In this case, the film is even more shallow than the game series ever was.