Ben Kingsley, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Gemma Arterton in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)


(director: Mike Newell; screenwriters: Boaz Yakin/Doug Miro/Carlo Bernard/based on a screen story and the video game series created by Jordan Mechner; cinematographer: John Seale; editors: Michael Kahn/Mick Audsley/Martin Walsh; music: Harry Gregson- Williams; cast: Jake Gyllenhaal (Dastan), Gemma Arterton (Tamina), Ben Kingsley (Nizam), Alfred Molina (Sheik Amar), Steve Toussaint (Seso), Toby Kebbell (Garsiv), Richard Coyle (Tus), Ronald Pickup (King Sharaman), Reece Ritchie (Bis); Runtime: 103; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producer: Jerry Bruckheimer; Walt Disney Pictures; 2010)

“If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t see this pic.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The movie created from the video game series created by Jordan Mechner and produced by the vulgarian Jerry Bruckheimer, doesn’t rise above mediocrity. Director Mike Newell (“Mona Lisa Smile”/”Pushing Tin”/”Love in Time of Cholera”) can’t find the right method to be imaginative with this swords-and-sandals-style spectacular set in ancient Iran (filmed in Morocco for about $150 million), as all he can provide is flat direction. It reminded me of many other disposable blockbusters that are so easily forgotten that I can’t think of their titles. The muddled script by Boaz Yakin, Doug Miro and Carlo Bernard keeps trying throughout to explain its dumb plot, but keeps making things dumber and dumber the more it explains.

Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal), because of his noble courage, is the street kid who becomes the adopted son of King Sharaman (Ronald Pickup), and becomes a brother to the king’s oldest son Tus (Richard Coyle) and Garsiv (Toby Kebbell). Going against their father’s orders, the three brothers and their evil uncle Nizam (Ben Kingsley), attack the holy city of Alamut, as Nizam falsely tells them of a secret weapon cache to be possibly used against their powerful kingdom (an uncalled for reminder of W.’s weapons of mass destruction reason for attacking Iraq). In the battle, easily won by the invaders, no cache of weapons is found but Dastan uncovers a magical dagger and is told by Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton), the protector of the ancient dagger, that it’s meant to save the world from itself and has the force to reverse time so that whoever possesses it can rule the world by just releasing its jewel button on the hilt (why Tamina doesn’t, never quite gets explained; even though the film bores us throughout explaining its ridiculous plot with a lot of other gibberish).

After the good king is murdered in a unique way by wearing a poisoned robe and Dastan is framed as the murderer by the oily Nizam, who has ambitions to be king after he kills his brother’s biological sons, Dastan flees to the desert with Tamina in tow. There they encounter the ruffian con man Sheik Amar (Alfred Molina), who runs an ostrich racing track and maintains it with some cutthroat characters, and also has eyes on the dagger. The two action hero saviors of the world work things out in this absurdly intricate storyline, that has them repeatedly fall into traps and then escape, until they predictably end up keeping the dagger in the right hands–theirs.

If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t see this pic.