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Rated 2.99 stars
by 292 people

ReelTalk Movie Reviews
No 'Raiders'
by Diana Saenger

When the nation’s top critics rate four of the five newest films currently on the big screen as rotten, it’s clear Hollywood decision makers aren’t doing their job. The critics haven’t taken to Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time either. Take a look at these reviewer comments about the film:

“Wisecracks are what pass for humor.”

“It’s the reason shrugs were invented.

“The story is muddled at best.”

“Waste of time and effort.”

Unfortunately, I have to agree.

This Raiders of the Lost Ark wannabe is based on Jordan Mechner’s 1989 “Prince of Persia” video game. The film intends to be a story about the destiny of Dastan, a homeless boy in 6th Century Persia, who is about to face his fate as a thief. But when King Sharaman (Ronald Pickup) saunters through the crowd on his horse, he takes one look at Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal) and decides to adopt him as his third son.

If only they would live happily ever after. Still, as Dastan grows into a man and is trained as a noble defender by his uncle Nizam (Ben Kingsley), he makes his adoptive father proud. However, family harmony is soon disrupted when it’s announced that the holy city of Alamut is secretly producing weapons, supposedly to use against King Sharaman. An attack is planned, but nothing turns out as expected. In the milieu, Sharaman is murdered and Dastan gets blamed, so he escapes with Alamut Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton), who is secretly hiding the sacred dagger that can back up time.  

There are many problems with this film. Action producer extraordinaire Jerry Bruckheimer likes to bring audiences into unexplored worlds. “Ancient Persia is one of the most wonderful of them all,” he said. “It has such a rich heritage of imagination and fantasy, and we’ve tried to honor that in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.”

All this might have succeeded if the sets didn’t look like sets, and if the film’s nearly 1,200 visual-effects worked better. I do give credit to Gyllenhaal for doing all his own stunts, which make up the majority of the movie’s focus. Kingsley (Shutter Island), of course, commands attention as Nizam and has the biggest arc in the film, rather than Dastan’s destiny. Arterton (Clash of the Titans), who appears one note throughout the movie, displays a 2010 attitude speaking 20th Century dialogue. Dastan’s brothers, portrayed by Richard Coyle and Toby Kebbell, are mere placeholders in a dead poker game.

Turning a video game into a movie rarely proves successful. Only two in the last decade -- Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within and Silent Hill -- were marginally successful.

Prince of Persia includes some comic relief in the form of Alfred Molina as Sheikh Amar, a rouge opportunist who holds ostrich races in the desert. That part of the movie boasts a very amusing plot line.

Anyone who wants to get their swashbuckling fix might enjoy this chaotic adventure, but those who prefer a plot that actually makes sense should probably consider passing on this one.

(Released by Walt Disney Pictures and rated “PG-13” for intense sequences of violence and action.)

Review also posted at

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