Review: PRINCE OF PERSIA (2010) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Review: PRINCE OF PERSIA (2010)

RATING: 2.5/5

Based on one of the most successful video games of all-time, the eagerly-awaited adaptation of PRINCE OF PERSIA is a fairly enjoyable summer romp -- disposable, that is -- but ultimately lack of epic grandeur and lasting quality to make this an otherwise good old-fashioned action adventure in the vein of ARABIAN NIGHTS-vibe.

The movie begins with a brief prologue where a highly-spirited street urchin named Dastan (William Foster) first catches the eye of King Sharaman (Ronald Pickup) of Persia in the city market. The king adopts the kid and raises him like his own son. Fifteen years later, Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal) has grown up becoming a prince. Unlike the king's biological sons Tus (Richard Coyle) and Garsiv (Toby Kebbell), Dastan is more of a brave but reckless warrior who prefers to accomplish thing his own way. One night when the king's advisor Nizam (Ben Kingsley) is masterminding an ambush against the city of Alamut, Dastan finds himself a beautiful dagger with a crystal hilt unlike anything he has seen before. Not only that, the dagger is apparently more than just a mere weapon -- it also acts as a time-travel device whoever clicks a ruby on the hilt, will sends that person a minute back in time. And Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton) desperately wants the dagger back at all cost. But trouble rises when Dastan is accused of murdering the king, during a birthday ceremony when he sends him a gift in the form of an expensive robe. It turns out that the robe the king wears in his body is poisonous and kills him immediately. Dastan has no choice but to flee off from Persia, and later finds himself unexpectedly teams up with Tamina. The mismatched pair doesn't get along at first, but they subsequently help each other escaping from a series of danger while gradually learning the shocking truth that Dastan's sneaky uncle, Nizam is behind this all the while.

From the surface, Boaz Yakin, Doug Miro and Carlo Bernard's script sounds like a whole lot of fun that certainly recalled a classic throwback to the 1920s and 1930s fantasy adventure genre. It's just too bad the execution is a mixed result. The overall plot is more of a second-rate ripoff of 1999's THE MUMMY and of course, the INDIANA JONES movies while the equal storytelling between characters, action, comedy and dramatic moments is as haphazard as it gets.

The cast are also a mixed bag, especially for Jake Gyllenhaal who looks awkward with his inappropriately bug-eyed and hangdog expression as the titular character. Despite all the hard effort he has undergone for extensive physical training, buffed-up look and sports a messy, rock star-like long hair, he still doesn't look convincing enough to play the role as a dashing hero or a charming prince. No doubt he's certainly miscast for such a role. Meanwhile, the current British "It" girl, Gemma Atherton, seems like a shoo-in nowadays to play exotic role in the fantasy-driven adventure (as in the recent CLASH OF THE TITANS). But unlike her thankless role in that movie, she manages to bring some sparks to her come-hither role oozes with enough sexuality and playful energy. Her role is not entirely successful since there are times she gets very annoying with her bickering -- especially her repetitive dialogues regarding about destiny and protecting the dagger. The rest of the supporting cast are more than less a series of strict caricatures, with a particularly wasted performance by Sir Ben Kingsley. And of all the actors, it's the versatile Alfred Molina who made most of the impression as the sarcastic and hilarious role of Sheik Amar.

All the messy stuff aside, the movie remains fun enough for the masses looking for summer escapist entertainment. The acrobatic action set pieces are certainly energetic and fun to look at, especially with Dastan doing a couple of parkour scenes from rooftops to rooftops, scaling walls and exciting hand-to-hand combat. Harry Gregson-Williams' Middle East-flavored music score is entertaining and catchy enough, while John Seale's constantly fluid cinematography keeps the movie alive, though at times his overly-frantic camerawork does sadly gets in his way. Mike Newell's direction is essentially workmanlike, and it's a bit pity he doesn't bring the same gravitas he does before in his 2005's HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE. The special effects, in the meantime, particularly the time-travel sequence is entertaining enough but remains mixed, considering the movie's $150-million budget tag.

Although PRINCE OF PERSIA fails to live up the expectation Disney is hoping high for another PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN-like lucrative franchise, the movie delivers the necessary fun for this kind of genre. At the very least, it's a marginally decent summer action flick that truly kicks off the season (here's looking at you IRON MAN 2!)

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