Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Prince of Persia The Sands of Time: An adaptation not full of fail

Few game to film adaptations are successful and capable of earning a box office success, but the question is does Prince of Persia Sands of Time fare well? In recent years the rise of comic book movie adaptations has been popularised and every hero from the ‘goddamn’ Batman to the mighty (and drunk) Ironman have fallen prey to the Hollywood treatment. So, when the Prince of Persia franchise (beloved by hardcore gamers who would murder any director who bastardised their ‘baby’) was to be made into a film, heads turned and I found myself wondering the outcome of this whole fiasco. There have been many attempts at videogame adaptations with the Uwe Bol ‘classic’ Silent Hill (with only the badass-ness of Pyramid Head offering mild entertainment) to the Super Mario Bros. live action movie (with Dennis Hopper might I add) that flopped at the box office.        
 The Prince of Persia cast is spearheaded by well known actor, Jake Gyllenhaal looking the part for most of the high budget flick. Most fanboys would be raging at the Prince played by Gyllenhaal citing some minute difference between him and his videogame counterpart. The reality is that the videogames and film will differ as games execute story differently to films. Subsequently certain videogame elements may not bode well on film (this depends on the focus of a videogame) and in the case of Prince of Persia plenty of storyline exists. The central premise of a prince setting out to save a kingdom in dire need is carried well by Gyllenhaal, this juxtaposed against an entertaining performance by Ben Kingsley (a veteran of villains) provides a dynamic contrast between the pretty boy prince and vengeful uncle played by Kingsley. The result is a film that balances adventure, action and the occasional comedic moment to break the tension of the good versus evil narrative that drives much of the film. The added novelty of the Prince’s ability to rewind time(with the aid of a magical dagger) is intriguing, and wasn’t exploited fully in my opinion. The plot itself is one which has been overdone a million times in other countless adaptations of comics or videogames, and doesn’t mean the film loses out. The simplicity of a prince trying to save his kingdom and fighting off evil is a welcome effort and for me provided a great way to relax and not have to worry about complicated plot devices.          
 With the storyline of the videogame franchise so strong a foundation exists for director Mike Newell (director of Donnie Brasco, Mona Lise Smile and Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire) to create a film that is faithful to the videogame trilogy and can peek the interest of moviegoers. The film merges elements from all three games revealing a Prince with depth and darkness as played by Gyllenhaal. The film prince can be comparable to other heroes harbouring self doubt such as Spiderman (played by Toby Maguire) with added awesome of Captain Jack Sparrow (played by Johnny Depp). ‘Awesome’ meaning the character holds an inexplicable charm, which I feel Gyllenhaal’s prince does more so than Toby Maguire’s Spiderman ever did. In all truth the Prince of Persia is a much better film than Spiderman 3 ever will be. The director Newell is not new to moviemaking and has an interesting body of work behind him making him a good choice for the director’s chair.    The film is an enjoyable ride with some standout performances by the supporting cast. 
 There were some memorable performances from the supporting cast with Alfred Molina as Sheik Amar utterly lulzworthy in his portrayal of an ostrich racing organiser, who conducts business in the desert to evade tax. However, Prince of Persia is still a Disney film and lacks any blood and gore due to a PG-13 rating. The film otherwise is faithful to the source material. It’s not a straight ‘by the book’ adaptation by any account yet it stays fresh using elements from the trilogy of games. The action sequences and camera work are on par with other Disney blockbusters, Pirates of the Caribbean most notably. It’s easy to see Disney hopes to create a new cash cow, which is highly unlikely. At the end of the day Prince of Persia works well as a mediocre action movie and a good night out at the movies. But, you wouldn’t be adding the Prince of Persia to your DVD or Bluray collection any time soon I reckon. 


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