Making movies based on video games is nothing new. It’s been done in America since “Super Mario Bros.” was released in 1993. Sadly though, that film was not a hit! In 2012, Disney Animation would make a film based on the idea of video games entitled, “Wreck-It Ralph”. Thankfully, this film was a hit!
But this wasn’t Disney’s first time making a film based on video games. Oh no, they’ve done it before. In 2010, for example, they made a live-action adaptation of a popular video game series entitled “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time”. So the question is, does this follow the “Wreck-It Ralph” route to greatness or the “Super Mario Bros.” route to badness and forgettability? Well, you’ll just have to wait until the end of the review to find out (*coughs* “Super Mario Bros.” *coughs*).
And remember, SPOILERS AHEAD!
The film opens up to (what’s supposed to be) the beautiful land of Persia. We get a brief history lesson on how powerful the Persian army was and are quickly introduced to the current leaders: the king, Sharaman, and his brother Nizam.
King Sharaman, played by Ronald Pickup, rules the empire on the foundations of “loyalty and brotherhood”, whilst Nizam, played by Sir Ben Kingsley, serves as a sort of advisor to the King.
One day while roaming the streets of the city, King Sharaman comes upon a brave peasant boy to whom he takes a liking. The boy is named Dastan and is adopted by the King and raised as a prince along with King Sharaman’s other two sons.
Fifteen years later, we see the Persian army headed towards an ancient, holy city called Alamut. The army is led by King Sharaman’s eldest son and heir to the throne, Tus, played by Richard Coyle.
Alongside him are his uncle Nizam, his other brother, Garsiv, played by Toby Kebbell,
and of course the star of the film, Dastan, played by totally Persian actor, Jake Gyllenhaal.
According to Nizam, spies have discovered that Alamut is selling weapons to Persia’s enemies. Prince Tus is reluctant to attack Alamut though, because it is a holy city after all, but then again, aiding enemies is aiding enemies!
Dastan and Garsiv quarrel about who among them will lead the cavalry in the attack, and Prince Tus decides that Garsiv is more qualified and deserving of that honor. This of course means nothing to Dastan as he secretly attacks the city from the side with a few street rabble friends of his.
This leads way to an epic battle scene once they scale the walls and the main cavalry led by Prince Tus and Garsiv attack full-force! Long story short, they capture the city and the Princess Tamina of Alamut, played by Gemma Arterton, surrenders to them.
She claims that her kingdom has not been making any weapons nor selling them to Persia’s enemies. But of course, the Persians think otherwise and Prince Tus proposes marriage to her in exchange for protection of her people.
Everyone celebrates and when Prince Tus and the others head back home, their father is furious to find out that Alamut was attacked!
But that scene doesn’t really go anywhere as a banquet celebrating
the victory the king something or the other is about to take place.
Dastan forgets to get a gift for the King, but Prince Tus comes to the rescue with a robe that he tells Dastan to give the King. At the banquet, Dastan gives it to the King, but the robe appears to be poisoned
and the King dies. Everyone assumes Dastan to be the murderer, so he flees along with Prince Tamina who quite surprisingly decides to flee with him.
Later on, when Dastan and Princess Tamina hide out in the desert, we discover the reason why Princess Tamina wanted to be with Dastan. During the invasion of Alamut, Dastan acquired a particular dagger whose end is filled with sand and has a pushable button at the hilt. When the button is pressed, a minute in time is turned back.
Dastan quickly realizes that the invasion of Alamut had nothing to do with weapons, rather it was about possessing this dagger. He now suspects Prince Tus of murdering the King since it was he who gave Dastan the robe and it was he who decided to invade Alamut.
Dastan decides that his uncle Nizam is the only one he can trust to tell this information to and heads to where the King’s funeral is being held because he knows Nizam will be there. And of course, Dastan drags Princess Tamina along for the ride.
They somehow manage to enter the funeral city incognito and Dastan manages to meet his Uncle Nizam privately. He tells him how Tus betrayed them and was actually looking for the dagger. Suddenly, Dastan notices that Nizam’s hands are burned. When questioned about it, Nizam says they were burned from helping Sharaman take off the poisoned robe. but Dastan remembers that Nizam DIDN’T help Sharaman get the robe off. This can only mean that it was NIZAM who poisoned the robe, hence it was HE who murdered King Sharaman!
Once he realizes this, Dastan flees while being pursued by Garsiv and the army (who discover that Dastan is at the funeral). When well away from danger, Princess Tamina explains to Dastan the history of the dagger and why Nizam may want it. (I don’t fully understand it, but I’ll do my best to explain it).
Apparently, the dagger was a gift handed down by the gods many years ago to a little girl who begged that the people on Earth would be spared from an incoming apocalypse. She became the first “guardian of the dagger” and this title was passed on generation after generation. Also, an hourglass was sent down containing the so-called “Sands of Time”. The hourglass was then hidden beneath the city of Alamut. If one were to push the dagger into the hourglass then press the button, the sands from the hourglass would flow freely and one can turn time back as far as they want, not just for a minute.
So what event in time does Nizam want to go back to? He wants to go back to an incident when he and Sharaman were boys and he saved Sharaman from being killed by a lioness. If he can go back and change that, HE would get the throne and become king. Not a plan that holds much water, but let’s just go with it.
Oh and also if the dagger-in-the-hourglass remains in there too long then the whole world gets destroyed as it was supposed to hundreds of years ago. Like I said, I never fully understood this quite complicated plot device, but again, let’s just go with it.
So Princess Tamina tells Dastan that they should hide the dagger in some nearby secret temple that would keep the dagger safe from the wrong hands. However, Garsiv and his army reach the temple as well (from following Dastan’s tracks, I’m guessing) and another fight scene occurs. Garsiv sadly dies, but FINALLY believes in Dastan’s story of innocence before doing so.
And even more sadly, the dagger is captured and taken back to Nizam by special assassins that he hired to also follow Dastan and Princess Tamina. Too many people to keep track of in this film!
So as you can imagine, Dastan, Princess Tamina, and other friends that they meet along the way head to Alamut to prevent Nizam from piercing the hourglass. Basically, many action scenes happen until the final showdown of Nizam and Dastan at the hourglass. Nizam pierces the hourglass while Dastan tries to stop him, and the sands flow freely until Dastan is able to pull the dagger about before the apocalypse is unleashed.
Quite serendipitously, the amount of sand that flowed out was just enough to cause time to rewind back to the instance right after the Persian army invaded Alamut.
Now with the knowledge of the future, Dastan tells Tus about Nizam’s plan. Tus doesn’t believe in the beginning, but when Nizam attacks Dastan, all is clear! Tus kills Nizam, apologizes to Princess Tamina, promises to rebuild her city, offers a marriage alliance between Dastan and her (even though she doesn’t know him now), and the movie ends on this…note.
What to say? This movie is definitely not “Wreck-It Ralph” level and is not really good! It stretches scenes to the max, includes a plethora of action scenes, and has a shaky plot. The acting is…ok, to say the least.
There are only two things that I’ll commend this film for. The first is that there are some GORGEOUS views of the Persian cities that provide immense pleasure!
The second it that I like how even though Dastan is a peasant boy adopted into the royal family, none of the royal family has a grudge against him or treats him inferior! The king loves him like a son, the brothers love him like a brother, and even the uncle doesn’t really DESPISE Dastan; he just needed someone upon whom to fall the blame of the king’s murder.
But sadly, gorgeous visuals and brotherly love do not a good movie make!
(You can click on the image below for an enlarged version of my rating sheet.)
So, the final score for this film is 20/35 = 57.14% (F) !
The next review will be posted on February 3rd.