Friday 15 October 2010

Film - Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

I quite enjoy popcorn movies when I'm in the mood for some mindless amusement, and I was encouraged by the fact that Prince of Persia was produced by the same man responsible for the entertaining Pirates of the Carribean trilogy, so I thought I'd give a spin.

Like PotC, PoP is an adaptation of a video game, but as I've never felt motivated to dabble in that field I can't comment on the relationship. The plot is the usual hokum, with the hero Prince, on the run after being wrongly accused of the murder of his father, having to prove his innocence while preventing bad guy Nizam from using the Dagger of Time to change the past to put himself on the throne. The CGI city looks impressive, the fireworks when the Dagger is used are spectacular, and the Prince (Jake Gyllenhaal - or at least his stunt double) puts on a suitably athletic display of parkour, free-running around the rooftops.

That's most of the good bits. Unfortunately Ben Kingsley's talents are wasted on a rather cardboard Nizam and Gemma Arterton is woefully miscast as the princess who is supposed to guard the Dagger of Time. This role calls for grace, gravitas and mystery, but I was constantly aware that Ms Arterton is a modern miss in dark makeup. In dramatic moments I kept expecting her to squeal "Oh My God!" and whip out her mobile phone to text to her friends. That's a pity considering that Bollywood is awash with beautiful Indian actresses who could do a more convincing job in their sleep, but I suppose Hollywood has its own parochial priorities.

On the other hand, perhaps they should have given Ms Arterton a mobile phone and played it for laughs, since the best bit of the film - and the only element which made the whole farrago enjoyable - was the comic performance by Alfred Molina as the bandit chief who cultivates a ferocious reputation in order to keep the tax collectors at bay, while he gets on with his favourite pastime of ostrich racing. I laughed out loud on several occasions when he was on screen, uttering decidedly modern-sounding opinions and reacting with Pavlovian fervour to the enticement: "It's tax free!".

Overall, the film lacks the panache of the PotC series, and sorely needs a strong central love/hate character like Johnny Depp's Captain Sparrow. Judging by the presence of the subtitle more films in this franchise could be on the way, but I doubt that I'll bother to watch them unless the fun quotient goes up markedly.

No comments: