Review: Prince of Persia

Posted May 26th, 2010 at 11:40 am

There is a deep history of failed video game adaptations but with the backing of Jerry Bruckheimer and Disney Prince of Persia arrives with possibly the best shot of breaking the trend. The film follows a prince who is set up for the murder of the king and goes on the run hoping to expose the true killer who has his eye on ruling the land. He is joined by a rival princess who knows the secrets behind a dagger that can reverse time.

While Prince of Persia isn’t likely to blow anyone away it may end up being considered as one of the better attempts at adapting a video game series to the big screen.

I have played the Prince of Persia games in the past but don’t have enough knowledge of the story to say whether it was faithful to the source material or not. Instead I wiped the slate clean to see if I would enjoy the film based on its own merits despite the story being somewhat unconvincing and wishing that it had a grittier nature to it. Prince of Persia tries to take you on a fun ride but isn’t completely convincing in doing so and is mediocre in every sense.

Jake Gyllenhaal takes on the role of Dastan and up-and-comer Gemma Arterton is the princess Tamina. In typical fashion the two lead characters can’t stand each other, and screw each other over in a way that is supposed to endear them to the audience, and in the process they end up falling for one another. I’m alright with the relationship being formulaic in that regard but their chemistry was lacking. It came across more as forced bickering and didn’t provide the laughs or sparks that usually accompany the back-and-forth. The side characters meant to provide comic relief didn’t do a very good job of it either. Comically the film was very flat.

I wasn’t terribly impressed with the set pieces which had a very manufactured feel to them. The special effects were questionable as well but the movie isn’t predicated on having to buy into effects. The most enjoyable parts came with the chase scenes and sword fights which had a more organic nature to them due to the heavy use of parkour throughout. That seemed to work pretty well though I expected a little more excitement and tension involved and that didn’t really arrive until late in the film.

My biggest issue with Prince of Persia was in the direction. Mike Newell has a plenty of experience including Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire but Prince of Persia felt almost amateurish at times. There is heavy use of slow motion in action scenes which was less stylistic than it was corny. Lots of slow down, then speed up effects used that just didn’t work here and became a distraction.

Prince of Persia is a relatively entertaining film that should play well to all audiences in typical Disney fashion. However it lacks some of the humor, charm, and sense of adventure that has been prevalent in other Bruckheimer-Disney collaborations such as Pirates of the Caribbean or National Treasure.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Prince of Persia releases on May 28th.