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‘Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time’ Movie Review: Generic ‘Sands’ falls below average

By Sean Harris ’11

Jake Gyllenhaal stars in "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time." (Andrew Cooper/Courtesy Disney Enterprises, Inc. and Jerry Bruckheimer, Inc./MCT)

The history of videogames and movies is a tale filled with tragedy and heartbreak from fan boys to general audiences around the world.

If it is not Uwe Boll making another horrible videogame movie, usually someone else is stepping up to the plate out of the belief that they have a built-in audience.

But movies based on games never turn out well. What people do not realize is that videogames and movies are two entirely separate mediums; telling a story in one is completely different than telling it in the other.

However, despite the risks involved, Disney has adapted “The Prince of Persia” into a full-blown summer adventure movie. Does it make up for the sins of the past, or does it continue the sad fate of videogame movies?

Despite all the fancy packaging, “Sands” will not earn the redemption that videogames deserve, although it is a small step in the right direction.

The film follows Prince Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal), one of the three sons of the King Sharaman (Ronald Pickup), the King of Persia.

Dastan does not have noble blood in him though; he was adopted by the king after displaying a feat of bravery. Is there more to that story? Who knows, it isn’t brought up again.

At the beginning of the story, Dastan and his three brothers invade a holy city believing the city is supplying weapons for Persia’s enemies.

After occupying the city, no weapons are found, but before you can say “Iraq war” Dastan is convicted of a crime he did not commit and forced to go on the run with Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton).

While he is on the run, Dastan learns the truth about the invasion involving a mystical dagger that he took as a token of his conquest. Dastan must then return the dagger to its rightful place or face the reworking of time itself.

If there’s anything good to be said about the film, it’s the fact that it could be a lot worse.

The story is nothing special; it’s all been done before and in most cases better. I understand that all movies can’t be original, but they need to bring something new and fresh to the table; “Prince” doesn’t.

It feels sterile and lifeless. Aside from a few choice action scenes, the film never really presents anything worth watching.

This can be clearly seen in the relationship between Tamina and Dastan. Sure, they have witty banter, but not once did it rise to the level of amusing. Instead all of their dialogue feels forced and manufactured.

Another wasted opportunity lies in the Dagger of Time which rewinds time for the person who wields the dagger, making things like injuries or death a minor annoyance.

It presents a myriad of different cool opportunities to show audiences something that they do not normally see in action scenes.

All of these opportunities are wasted, and the film once again proves that it is just a generic adventure flick.

Numerous hanging plot threads in the movie all indicate that sequels are already being planned, much in the vein of “Pirates of the Caribbean”. If this is the case, then everyone involved needs to step up their game.

I can’t entirely blame the actors though; however, a standout performance would have helped the script shine a little brighter. Instead it is all just average.

But the biggest flaw with the movie is the ending. Even for a movie dealing with time being erased, it is still a gigantic cop-out that cheapens the film.

“Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” definitely could have been worse, and in this world of terrible videogame adaptations, maybe that is a celebration in itself.

But that doesn’t help the fact that it is just below average. The hunt for a great videogame movie continues.

2 out of 5 horseshoes

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