Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)

prince of persia sands of time(If this is your first time on this blog, I ask you to read my “About” page first! You can find a link to it at the top left-hand corner of this blog. Thanks!)

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.

You can tell who is who because the King wears the crown and the advisor...has no hair. Well, that's not such a shock, he did play Gandhi!"
You can tell who is who because the King wears the crown and the advisor…has no hair. Well, that’s not such a shock, he did play Gandhi!”

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.

He reminds me of someone from the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy!
He reminds me of someone from the “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy!

Alongside him are his uncle Nizam, his other brother, Garsiv, played by Toby Kebbell,

prince of persia garsiv
He doesn’t remind me of anyone from the “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

and of course the star of the film, Dastan, played by totally Persian actor, Jake Gyllenhaal.

"The other actors aren't Persian either, so why call ME out?"
“The other actors aren’t Persian either, so why call ME out?”

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!

Like Gaston said, if you're not with us, you're against us! Rule 101 in basic empire knowledge!
Like Gaston said, if you’re not with us, you’re against us! Rule 101 in basic empire knowledge!

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.

Brilliant idea, Sherlock!
Brilliant idea, Sherlock!

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.

prince of persia tamina
I’m not sure if she’s expressing courage right now or if she’s just happy or if she’s seduced…I really can’t read her facial expressions at all. That reminds me of someone else.
"Would that be me?" "Yes it would actually!"
“Would that be me?”
“Yes it would actually!”

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.

"Don't worry about love. That'll come after. Right now I'm providing good treatment and mercy. What more does one need?"
“Don’t worry about love. That’ll come after. Right now I’m offering elegant treatment and mercy. What more does one need?”

Everyone celebrates and when Prince Tus and the others head back home, their father is furious to find out that Alamut was attacked!

"Holy Moly! Did the phrase, 'holy city' not enter into your mind?"
“Holy Moly! Did the phrase, ‘holy city’ not enter into your mind?”

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.

"But we let bygones be bygones. What gift have you to bestow upon me?"
“But we let bygones be bygones. What gift have you to bestow upon me?”

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

Well, it's more of a marinated-in-a-substance-that-causes-skin-burns-and-violent-reactions robe than a poisoned one!
Well, it’s more of a marinated-in-a-substance-that-causes-skin-burns-and-violent-reactions robe than a poisoned one!

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.

The time reverse sequence is depicted in a quite stunning visual that looks blatantly CGI!
The time reverse sequence is depicted in a quite stunning visual that looks blatantly CGI!

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.

"Marriage, schmarriage...give me the dagger!"
“Marriage, schmarriage…give me the dagger!”

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!

"Oh come on, can a man who played a promoter of non-violence possibly play a cold-hearted murderer with a predilection towards weird murder weapons?"
“Oh come on, can a man who played a promoter of non-violence possibly play a cold-hearted murderer with a predilection towards weird murder weapons?”

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.

"Great Scott! The Sands of Time are the original flux capacitor!"
“Great Scott! The Sands of Time are the original flux capacitor!”

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.

"What a dope! He should've just gone back to the day Sharaman was born and stopped that from happening...somehow!"
“What a dope! He should’ve just gone back to the day Sharaman was born and stopped that from happening…somehow!”

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.

"Uh....okay, you've totally lost me...and that's saying something!"
“Uh….okay, you’ve totally lost me…and that’s saying something!”

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.

Better late than never...I guess!
Better late than never…I guess!

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!

"That's why I intend to eliminate a few."
“That’s why I intend to eliminate a few.”

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.

An illuminating battle between good and evil, to say the least!
An illuminating battle between good and evil, to say the least!

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.

"Are you willing to be my husband and never bring evil to Alamut?" "Oh yes, my lady! May a dagger strike me in the heart and plunge me in the past if I'm lying!" "What the...?" "Never mind, Princess!"
“Are you willing to be my husband and never bring evil to Alamut?”
“Oh yes, my lady! May a dagger strike me in the heart and plunge me in the past if I’m lying!”
“What the…?”
“Never mind, Princess!”

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.

Well, except for you. You're just...I dunno really.
Well, except for you. You’re just…I dunno really.

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!

prince of persia visual 1

prince of persia visual 2

prince of persia visual 3

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.

"And Dastan fits the requirement of 'someone' so perfectly!"
“And Dastan fits the requirement of ‘someone’ so perfectly!”

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.

16 thoughts on “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)

  1. I guess they could have made a perfectly serviceable movie if they had stuck to the half fairy tale/ half action movie angle and had left out the time traveling – there are a few movies which manage to pull off that one well. Too bad, it looks gorgeous.

  2. I remember this was advertised all over the place, and I was bored so I refused to watch it. Still seems boring, and love the shade you throw at the actors. Great review.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      I can see how this movie can be boring. I personally wasn’t bored watching this, but it was mediocre at best!

      I remember when I criticized Mila Kunis’ acting in “Oz: The Great and Powerful” and how you enjoyed that too, lol! I probably should start criticizing more often.

      1. It is really fun to throw “shade” at things in a review (you probably think my terminology is weird), and it is my MAIN style. It is really fun, and you are really good at it. I LOL’d many times. Keep up the good work.

  3. I saw Prince of Persia on DVD years ago. I agree with you. The film looks gorgeous. But I wasn’t crazy about it. Princess Tamina was extremely annoying. I enjoyed some of the action, but I don’t have to ever see this again.

  4. This year, we have two video game movies coming out: ‘Warcraft’ from Universal, and ‘Assassin’s Creed’ from Fox. Both have a great cast, both have pretty good talent attached, and I’m almost tempted to believe that this could be the year that video game movies have their big break! But history does have an annoying habit of repeating itself, and one or both might not work out.

    Who knows, maybe if both are successful, ‘Prince of Persia’ will have a second chance at blockbuster fame, but in all probability not from Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer.

  5. I am vehemently against the concept of whitewashing in cinema (especially in live-action), and the fact that most of the actors in this film are white is an egregious insult to my humanity as an ethnic Persian. (I hasten to admit, however, that I have not actually watched it, and don’t plan to…)

Leave a Reply to The Animation Commendation Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s