24 February 2011

Movies: Prince of Persia

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0473075/
A plucky young orphan successfully defends his streetwise friend from some good old fashioned desert nomad justice and catches the attention of the king. The king spares their hands/lives and adopts the plucky one.  Then, years later, as the adopted son and the bloodline princes are waging war in their father's name, they invade a holy city on suspicion the city is supplying weapons to their enemies.  A holy city their father had forbade them to attack, but attack anyhow on the counsel of the king's brother.  Then things get all intrigue-ey.

Years ago I enjoyed playing the video game of the same name, so I wasn't sure how the heck they were going to movie-fy it.  In the end, I think Disney did a good job.  Pleasingly this is not the train-wreck of a video-game-to-movie adaptation one has come to anticipate, based on past video game to movie conversions.

What I liked was they gave characters a back story, gave us a primary story, filled it with some action, and it worked. Sure a couple of "Alladin" memory moments happened for some reason, but at least we didn't get dancing rugs or people bursting into song for no reason.  The movie probably targets a tweens audience, but still an appreciable flick for the older crowd.   Did they stick strictly with the game? Nope. Did I care? Nope. The movie probably would've sucked had they insisted on following the plot of the game.  Sure there's borrowing from other adventure/fantasy/mythology flicks. But everything was stitched together nicely to make a coherent story out of a video game.

Stars Jake Gyllenhaal in the title role, with Gemma Arterton as the corresponding princess.  Keep an eye on that girl, Gemma. She's been getting some decent big movie roles, and she can act the shit out of 'em when she needs to (just see The Disappearance of Alice Creed).
Also - Ben Kingsley. His appearance in this flick almost redeems his presence in the video-game-to-movie crapfest that is BloodRayne. I'm still not sure how to take Sir Ben's choices of movies. He gets into some really terrible movies, then turns around and knocks a role in a good movie out of the park.  And it isn't like he's Christopher Walken.  Sure Walken does the same thing - crapfests and classics and nothing hurts his career. But Walken is pretty much Walken in every role - he makes the character him. Whereas Kingsley takes on different personalities, mannerisms and vocal inflections depending on his role.  Ah well - both get paid handsomely I'm sure.

So yes - enjoyable, and kid-friendlly.  Almost Mummy-enjoyable but a little less campy, yet still good cheesy fun.  Just entertainment without any pretense to be anything more.

Edit Dec 2011:
Rewatched the film. Hmm. Wasn't so fun the second time around. Don't know if that's the difference between "now" and "then", or if it is a matter of the mood I was in at the time I was viewing. Not saying I was in a bad mood, but this second viewing just wasn't as fun for me. Some things that annoyed me this time around included edits that jump great distance (time/space) to control pacing, insertion of story elements that felt forced, recycled 'bag of tricks' story elements. Perhaps on the subsequent viewing the I was more aware of 'formula story and film components assembled to deliver a story bigger than the source material'. 
I guess I was sortof spot-on ending the first viewing review with "entertainment without any pretense to be anything more." I just felt better about it in the end the last time. Maybe between the viewings I've grown more fatigued of the recent seemingly endless parade of rehashes/remakes/formula-driven films and felt grumpier about it by the end this time.

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