Saturday, May 29, 2010

"Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" (2010) - Movie Review

If you are following Roger Ebert’s blog as I do, you would probably know about the battle he fronts regarding how video games can never be an art. While I understand his passion behind the argument, sometimes it surprises me the extent he goes to defend it with every inch of his life. I do not get to read the hate mail he might get in tons from the teenagers in gamers. I had my times to be addicted to this game in PC version and this will be the one that shattered me with gaming experience and Ebert forbid, I got the best artistic and entertaining experience from the game of “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time”.

The game invented the acrobatic stunts. Suddenly what used to be a very simple 2D game at dawn of simple graphics, became more than keystrokes. It had the best sword stunts and mind boggling puzzles to solve. It had ambience like no other providing spectacular feel of being in that magical world with awe, surprise and scare. Adding to all of those, it had characters with the titular character Prince himself who gets the name of Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal) in the film and the Princess Farah who is Tamina (Gemma Arterton) in Mike Newell’s movie. It was a tough game which took myself and another friend to complete it. When the game got over, the final scene made it clear that this is no longer a game rather a soon to be art in itself.

Hence when the film version of this phenomenal experience comes, you know that bias is written all over it from this reviewer. But do not worry, I will swing by everything and make it worth the read. The film leaves the gargantuan ambience to the game but uses couple of instances to give that feel. The greatest strength of the film are the stunts replicated from its source. They add the parkour technic to the Prince and the chase scenes becomes what “District B13” did to its audience.

In the film, Prince Dastan’s orphan past is revealed and how the King of the Persia adopted this boy without royal blood for his courage. There are two elder brothers Tus (Richard Coyle) and Garsiv (Toby Kebbell) do not minding their adopted brother. Then Sir Ben Kingsley as the uncle and advisor Nizam is over casted in my opinion. Nevertheless the story begins with right fashion and dives on without a pause. We get to see that the Prince follows the saying of “Work while you work and play while you play” to his heart. He respects his brothers and appreciates the gracious nature in which he has received this fortunate family. But this is no family drama as obvious it can be. It is about the graphics, adventure and the stunts. It is there, there and there and fulfills every expectation of it in the first one and half hour. Then it exhausts itself and becomes a drag.

With that said, a gamer would not be satisfied because this is not a game. A movie goer will get what they want with those choreographed stunts and a plot that is not so predictable but not so unique either. A film critic might be looking for some more flesh of dimension in the characters but it is just enough to kindle the tension between the Prince and Princess and more than enough for the brotherhood and glory.

When is the last time we saw some good Arabian story? Not that I know of and here comes the rightly adapted film of the game. Director Mike Newell could have cut himself short on extending this film but the initial setting of the story and characters cannot be more perfect. It hits it marks and moves on swiftly and enigmatically as the Prince moves through the streets and buildings of this ancient city. Jake Gyllenhaal does some real good flexing of his muscles and swings through his swords. He gives the much needed subtle sarcasms and the boyish charm required for this first segment of what is going to be a series of films.

Much as the game trilogy, I am expecting the second one to be darker and more violent. But as this film, I am not sure whether the franchise will take that leap to be this R rated film. The best part about the game is that the ending could not have been more perfect. It left us longing but still fulfilled for getting that treatment from the creators quite unexpectedly. It is indeed foolish of me to expect the same in the film as the obligation to end with kissing lips and holding hands is what the summer blockbusters are all about. “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” will entertain its audience but not surprise them as the game did.

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