Saturday, June 12, 2010

At least I got to see trailers for Tron and The Last Airbender...

First off, thanks to Staceybon from Twitter for helping me come up with a one word description for "Prince of Persia". You see, I thought I would be clever and asked for suggestions about what to call a movie where you ultimately enjoy the trailers more than the movie. She cut right to the chase with a concise and easy to remember answer - "crap!" Does "Prince of Persia" deserve to be called crap? I think to do so will at least nod toward the fact that some of these big blockbuster type movies are trending toward being unforgettable and unsatisfying. Don't worry "Iron Man II" I'm not talking about you but yes "Clash of the Titans" I am talking about you.  I guess now I need to justify such a lukewarm response to Prince of Persia...

I was never any good at video games although I did have a good run at Frogger one time. My characters are klutzes who bump into things and die in embarrassing and shameful ways. Based on all of the jumping, leaping and wall climbing involved in "Prince of Persia", I am sure I would have sucked at the video game the movie is based on.  This story is set in the sprawling empire of Persia and is about Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal) who was adopted by the King and rescued from the life of a street urchin. This happens because like most movie orphans Dastan practically glows with spunk and virtue that the King may see missing in his own over privileged family. The downside of this situation is that eventually somebody is going to try to discredit and/or kill you. When the King is killed, Dastan is framed and finds himself on the run with the most beautiful princess in all of Persia (Gemma Arterton as Tamina). She is no ordinary bare belly Persian princess though because she is the sacred protector of a dagger that contains the "sands of time" which can turn back time. While on the run we get all of the expected video game like action, effects like Dastan using the dagger and snarky flirting between Dastan and Tamina. It's the type of flirting that really begs "get a room" or in this case a tent but never rises to the level of passion implied later in the movie.

The plot really fails when there is exposition about what to do with the dagger. There is a source for the sand but putting the dagger there will lead to very, very bad things, It can be returned to the stone from which it was made or ( and this is where I checked out) there is a secret fortress where it can always be kept safe. Ok, why not keep it at the fortress to begin with? Also we only see one other person besides Dastan use the dagger and why not? Couldn't said brave princess use the dagger's power to keep it from being capture to begin with? Oh well, we end up with a huge finale full of sand, fire and death that leads to......wait for it.... a big fat reset  button that renders all we have seen moot.

Good points? The scenes of vast deserts and Persian palaces are done well. Alfred Molina and Ben Kingsley can go to the head of the class because they play their one note characters well. Molina is used for quite a few laughs and Kingsley arches his eyebrows in just the right deceptively evil way throughout the movie. I've read that Jake Gyllenhaal's nicely buffed up body might be a reason to pay up and see this movie. I prefer leaner Brokeback Jake but when you can find pictures like the one above on the Internet for free, I don't think the abs factor even makes this movie worth the price of admission.


If I had a blog... said...

Hello Wes,
Thanks for the review. I don't get out to many movies and rely on concensus for those I rent. It sounds like this epic is a cobbled story line that shows the scenes were filmed out of sequence. I remember as a child watching the black&white B movies about gladiators and titans and such and they were fine for entertaining kids then, but not so much now for the price of a ticket. Be well - Ron -