“Prince” not Perfect but Entertaining
Making its way to theatres last Memorial Day Weekend, Disney’s highly anticipated film “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” evoked various reactions from critics, game enthusiasts, and moviegoers. However, resonating from its ecliptic comparison to its video gaming franchise, it is no surprise mixed reactions were to follow. Contrastingly discredited in its premier with a two star rating according to Hollywood.com, “Prince of Persia” ironically did not disappoint as harsh critical reviews have indicated.
Directed by Mike Newell, the film follows a loosely based rendition of the first video game series released in 2003. Although it incorporates a predictable plot line with the expectations of witty dialogue, sarcastic humor, and an offhand political message reflecting on our period, Disney delivers entertainment despite its weakened elements. With enough action, adventure, comedy, and romance to fill the seat of any interested viewer, the film could be one of the first successful depictions of a video game. However, faulty points are easily read between the lines from actors and special effects to plot twists and meaningful connections.
Keeping the gaming trilogy as part of his basis for their storytelling, producer Jerry Bruckheimer enlisted Jake Gyllenhaal, who stars as the protagonist Dastan, an orphan who is taken in by King Sharaman, played by Ronald Pickup. He becomes the Prince of Persia, destined to rid the evil of a dark future after stumbling upon a mystical sword that gives its wielder the power to turn back time. Dastan’s love interest, a fallen princess named Tamina, starring Gemma Arterten, helps him in his adventures as she is the guardian of the weapon.
Like many action and fantasy films, “Prince of Persia” follows the formulaic good vs. evil plot, having a predictable villain who is more or less discovered in the first few minutes of the opening sequence. However, the plot works well in this instance.
Most of the critics’ concerns, nevertheless, were further highlighted by the apparent “whitewashing” instilled by the film. Although the term is a bit harsh, it is difficult to believe Disney does not have the ability to cast any actors of Middle Eastern descent. More diversity in characters would have provided a realistic approach to the era rather than a sophisticated rendition of British and American actors who appeal more to aesthetics than anything more meaningful.
Aside from the controversy, the acting was as up to par, encompassing the protagonists’ relationship with intentional awkward moments which were entertaining and hilarious. Supporting characters as well added to the comedic twist, balancing out the dark, tragic moments to lighter ones for the younger viewers. Special effects were well done, assimilating stunt doubles with actors and computer animation without hardly any distinction. The sceneries, though obvious in its reliance on technology, provided a beautiful cinematic depiction of ancient Persia. Historical inaccuracies are undoubtedly made yet one may wonder how accurate can a fantasy film be.
One of the most disappointing points that film maker Newell might have taken more into consideration was the plot twists at the end. Meaningful connections and relationships between the characters which develop throughout the film were overshadowed by a larger concept, leaving behind an adventure which seemed almost meaningless. Understanding his purpose, it might have been difficult to turn a dark story into a happier one, a notion which Disney is known for all too well. Yet, ironically, the very same ending proved to be successful as well.
“Prince of Persia: Sands of Time” serves as a stepping stone for Hollywood to see the importance of video game series and their inspiring stories. Although premiering with mixed reactions, the film itself is recommended to any moviegoer or game fan. Enjoy the popcorn and get ready to feel the action and adventure of a blockbuster hit.
Katia Diaz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.