Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

May 28, 2010

Dusty sandstorm

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 12:04 am

May 28, 2010

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley

Director: Mike Newell

In “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time”, there’s a dagger that can be used to turn back the clock and correct one’s mistakes. If only such a dagger existed, I know I’d have used it to go back to that moment when I was entering the cinema and I’d have chosen to watch another film instead.

The movie, based on a popular video game, is a relentless orgy of special effects and CGI, and stars a buffed Jake Gyllenhaal as Prince Dastan of Persia who’s on the run after being framed for the murder of his father, the king. Dastan was adopted as a little orphan boy from the streets and raised by the king alongside his two biological sons.

Ben Kingsley plays the princes’ treacherous uncle Nizam who has his eyes on the earlier-mentioned dagger, which he intends to use for his selfish benefit. The dagger incidentally has found its way to Dastan, who obtained it in the holy city that he raided with his brothers while searching for deadly weapons that, turns out, didn’t exist. Sounds familiar?

Gemma Arterton plays Princess Tamina, guardian of the dagger who must follow Dastan around, bicker with him endlessly, and ultimately serve as the film’s obligatory love interest.

Packed with breathless chases and stunts, including leaps across walls and rooftops and camelbacks, the film has a distinctly video-game feel to it; Dastan must overcome hurdle after hurdle until he vanquishes the bad guys in the end. The convoluted plot, when it fully reveals itself, turns out to be ridiculously simplistic, but it’s all mired under dreadful dialogue and stereotyped characterization. The dagger’s magical powers remove much of the life-or-death tension in the film because you know everything bad that happens can be fixed.

So in the end, it’s up to the film’s leading man to keep you charmed. Now while Jake Gyllenhaal is a credible actor, and while he has clearly spent several hours in the gym preparing for this part, he still appears a little out of place in a film as physical, and indeed over-the-top as this!

I’m going with two out of five for “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time”. Despite some noisy action set-pieces, it’s a fantasy film without much fun!

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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