This movie is from the team that made the Pirates of the Caribbean and National Treasure movies. It's based on a video game, which is just like the other two since they were based on a theme park ride and the other is a cheap rip-off of Dan Brown books. They also have more than that in common; they each sound horrible on paper and are shockingly better than expected. I never played the video game Prince of Persia but I've been told by some gamer friends that it's really good. There are several elements that are taken directly from the game, but don't let that worry you because you don't need to know anything about it to enjoy the movie. Oscar nominee, Jake Gyllenhaal stars as the titular character also known as Dastan and managed to look even gayer than he did in Brokeback Mountain. Besides sporting an inexplicable faux British accent for an Arabian character, he's very charming and funny as the courageous warrior who must protect a sacred dagger from the clutches of evil with the help of several characters including the ever-so-fun-to-watch, Alred Molina (Spiderman 2, The DaVinci Code) and exotic Gemma Arterton (Quantum of Solace, Clash of the Titans). He's also pursued by Oscar winner, Ben Kingsley who sporting his "Ghandi" look again but not that attitude. I wonder if another attribute to making this a good film is the unexpectedness of it actually being a good film. I'll be honest, I thought this movie was going to be crap. Nothing about it looked entertaining from the ridiculous look of its star, to the weird CG character made of sand, to the fact that it's based on a video game! But all of it was! The production value and CG give the film a great, warm, exciting period look of ancient Iran. The action sequences, which are as bountiful as the dinner table of a Sultan, are fast, fun and thrilling. The script is easy to follow, funny and not too stupid...it has to be a little stupid considering it's about a dagger that can turn back time. To round it all out, director Mike Newell (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Donnie Brasco) brings the whole thing to life with a great pace and exhilarating action scenes. I guess to sum it up, Prince of Persia is the perfect summer movie. I don't need a brain to enjoy it, it's flashy, full of attractive people and it goes great with popcorn. It doesn't have the clever script of National Treasure or lovable characters flawlessly played like Pirates of the Caribbean, but Prince of Persia is worth the price of admission (which I also admire Disney for not coating it in a gross 3D conversion to squeeze more money from us like Clash of the Titans). In a summer of what looks like some boring-ass films coming out, it's good to see surprises like this and I can only hope for more like it.
Prince of Persia: Sands of Time (Rated PG-13)
Gavin Grade: A-