Last night I went to see Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time with Kaye. Seeing movies based on videogames is so not normal for me, since I have never been into videogames, at all, but I was interested in seeing this movie for a couple of reasons.
1. It's produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. Bruckheimer's summer blockbusters are generally very fun, especially some of the franchises he's developed in association with Disney (Pirates, National Treasure).
2. Bruckheimer is largely responsible (along with Johnny Depp, of course!) for creating a film franchise based on a theme park ride into some of my favorite movies. Say what you will about the second and third Pirates movies, I loved them for the simple fact that they gave me more screentime with Captain Jack Sparrow.
3. The trailers for Prince reminded me of Pirates, the Mummy movies, and Aladdin all rolled into one.
So, knowing next to nothing about the Prince of Persia videogames, I was pretty entertained. I'm rather curious to know what die-hard fans of the game will think of this movie - I suspect knowing nothing of the storyline or characters or point of the whole thing, I was probably better off. *wink*
If you can get past the utter ridiculousness of casting Jake Gyllenhaal as Dastan, a Persian action hero, this movie is pretty fun. And actually I thought Gyllenhaal did a surprisingly decent job in the role. He succeeds magnificently in channeling his inner Aladdin here, with a healthy dose of incredible fighting skills added just for fun. Dastan's leading lady is played by British actress Gemma Arterton. I've liked her work in Lost in Austen, the latest adaptation of Tess of the D'Urbervilles, and even her brief role in Quantum of Solace. As Kaye commented after the movie, Gemma's character - the Princess Tamina - is more than a little inept to be the latest in a long line of guardians who are supposed to protect mankind of from destroying itself with the fabled sands of time. But in this kind of movie things that make sense don't really matter (at least to me, LOL), and I thought Arterton did a pretty fair job of playing the feisty princess role.
There's a couple of other actors that I need to mention. Ben Kingsley was an interesting and rather fun choice, I thought, to play the bad guy. Gandhi to Nazim, a character in a movie based on a videogame...the man has done it all, hasn't he? :) The biggest and most entertaining surprise was Alfred Molina as Sheik Amar. The man had some of the best lines in the script and his delivery and comic timing was always pitch-perfect. It was worth going to see this movie for the ostrich races alone. On the slightly more obscure side of things, I was happy to see Richard Coyle as Dastan's older brother (even though I didn't put a name to his face until the credits started to roll). Coyle will be familiar to fans of costume dramas who've seen Wives and Daughters or Lorna Doone. I really liked his character in this film as well.
Story-wise there's not a whole lot I feel like discussing here. The main reason this movie is worth seeing on the big screen is the spectacle of it all. The special effects are, of course, eye-popping & fantastic. And I have to own I just loved the look of the movie - the costumes and sets are just gorgeous. Director Mike Newell and company have created a visually stunning world here, and they keep the action going at a fairly brisk pace. And film music junkie that I am, I have to acknowledge Harry Gregson-Williams' amazing score. It was simply gorgeous, full of great action cues and enough Middle Eastern flourishes to make the score stand out from the run-of-the-mill. Gregson-Williams' work continues to impress me as time goes on and I hear his new projects - he's fast on his way to becoming one of my favorite film composers.
So, the final verdict...Prince of Persia was a fun diversion, but I'm not going to be clamoring for Bruckheimer to turn this one into a franchise.