By Erica Rae Chong
Hardcore fans of the original game franchise, which began as far back as 1989, brace yourselves. Once again, much like Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li, another fantastic plot from a video game has been remodelled to attract a larger audience. This isn’t to say that it is an entirely bad movie on its own.
With the Hollywood formula of a gorgeous cast, a nefarious villain, and a mission impossible “save-the-world” quest, coupled with the highlights of the original games, i.e., amazing stunts and swordplay, and a US$200 million budget, you have the fail-safe ingredients of a decent film.
Set in medieval Persia, Prince Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal) is hailed as a hero after storming the gates of Alamut, a sacred city accused of crafting weapons for Persian enemies. It’s there that he unwittingly comes into possession of the city’s most important relic, a magical dagger with the power to turn back time.
However, when Prince Dastan was framed for killing his adoptive father, he and the feisty Princess of Alamut, Tamina (Gemma Arterton, last seen in Clash Of The Titans), flee across the rolling sand dunes of Persia to clear his name and, while they’re at it, save the world from being swept away by the largest sandstorm humanity has ever seen.
The impressive special effects, roof-leaping parkour moves and swordfights dazzle you in the beginning, but become rather tiresome towards the end of the film. Moreover, the love-hate chemistry between the 2 leads seemed to fizzle out into cheesy banter at times.
In fact, it fell to the supporting actors to bring some much need colour as well as humour to the screen. Oscar Winner Ben Kingsley’s role as the shady, mysterious uncle of Dastan was commendable, while Alfred Molina’s portrayal of the ostrich-loving Sheik Amar, an antagonist turned ally, was hands down the most amusing aspect of the movie. Though his role is small, his witty quips and retorts are highly amusing.
Kudos to composer Harry Gregson-William, who scored the 3 Shrek movies, and the Narnia films, as well for the rousing score. The exotic strains and soaring strings as the camera dramatically pans across the desert scape and the heart pumping drum beats as sword fights ensue, definitely added depth to the film.
Although Prince of Persia fails to match up to the success of other blockbusters by movie and TV producer Jerry Bruckheimer, such as Pirates of the Caribbean and National Treasure, it has definitely raised the bar for video game films.
Which is not really saying much, as the chain of films adapted from video games such as Resident Evil (2002) and Lara Croft (2001) have been mediocre at best with their shallow plots with only flashy CGI action to make up for it. Prince of Persia, on the other hand, sets a new standard for video game movies to come.
Opens: May 27
Duration: 116 min
Genre: Action, Fantasy, Adventure
Director: Mike Newell
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley