James Helsby

LRE #21: Prince of Persia

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Little Red Envelope

In my mailbox this week:
Prince of Persia

Release Year: 2010
Staring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley

Prince of Persia is a long running video game series.  In 2010, Disney adapted it into a feature length film. Did they do a better job than other video game adaptations?

I would love to say that this movie disappointed me. That it left me wishing I had thrown a brick through the TV, and saved myself two hours of misery. That simply didn’t happen.

Are you staring at my poser pouch?

The truth of the matter, is that I really enjoyed the film.

Movies like this always fall into one of two categories; too smart, or too dumb. The film creator either spends too much time trying to play to the fans, to build the universe, or to explain the logistics of this video game world. The other side of the coin is that they don’t. They don’t waste their time trying to tell a back story, or explain the how and whys. The smart movies expect the audience to ‘just get it’. The dumb ones spend way to much time pandering to the people ‘who won’t get it.’

Somehow this movie started off being in the first group, drifted into the second group, and found itself in a new group. The ‘just a movie’ group. Usually, you can tell which film it will be by the presence of a back-story. Either in the form of prologue, or a screen scroller; typically this is the death-nail, telling the audience up front that “you need to know this before we can start the movie.”

Some films can pull it off, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, even Alien have all used this elaboration type. Very few use the epilogue, explaining something after the film had finished. Somehow, as strange as it seems, Prince of Persia used both a prologue and epilogue. It felt a little odd.

But the film itself was rather fun. The special effects were nothing great, the dialogue was annoying for being in a fake British accent, but the story wasn’t bad. It revolved around a legendary dagger, that can slowly release the ‘sands of time’ fragments of what is essentially Pandora’s box. The sands are able to unwind a moment in history, but can only be used in a finite sense. The longer in time you go, the most sand is needed. And since the dagger can only hold a small amount, it can only unwind a few moments.

But the source of the sand can unwind the ages of time, at the consequence of destroying time itself. Well, this seems like a stupid idea, but it is the main villain’s goal to undo one decision he made as a child, and completely ignore the prospect of destroying everything. You know… as one does.?..?

Seriously. I am NOT the villain. I promise!

My two biggest gripes about this movie are rather simple to summarize. Ben Kinglsey is awesome. A great actor. But the moment that they lay into the prologue, and define the universe…Well, it is extremely easy to figure out who did it, and why. That annoys me to no end. I understand that this is essentially a kids movie, but kids aren’t dumb. They would know who did it, just as I did, before the IT even happened.

The second problem, as I mentioned before, is the accents. I understand that it is easier to get 1 person to talk in a British accent (Jake Gyllenhaal) than the rest of the cast. But Jake doesn’t do a fantastic job. It’s such a nondescript accent, that at times you can hear where it drops and his natural Americanized English speech comes out. It’s irritating, but didn’t really ruin the movie.

The film was a good action flick. It wasn’t that intelligent. So if you were in the mood for something fun that you could watch with the kids, this is a pretty good pick. The story slows pretty badly in the middle, but some great action sequences keep things moving along. All in all, it gets a fairly good recommend.

How painful was it: I thought it would be a lot worse that it really was. It wasn’t the best film I have seen in recent times, but I wouldn’t fit watching it again.
Rating: 7/10. It was predictable, yes. It was adventurous, yes. It was fun, without being much more than that.

The Wife’s Retort: It was a lot better than I thought it would be. I didn’t want to watch it at first, but by the end I was ok with it.

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