The video game film genre has long been a plagued series. On occasion one might find a franchise that lasts (e.g., Resident Evil), but the majority have high hopes from not only the studios but also the fans of the series who plunk down money to see the outings in the theaters. The most recent adaptation is of the Prince of Persia game series. It’s not a widely known batch of titles, but it did well enough among critics and gamers to garner the interest of Disney, who greenlit the film adaptation. Its production seemed to move along at a nice pace and the trailers for the film looked like it was going to be a worthwhile action film to see. Sadly that all changed once it hit theaters and critics ripped it a new one (although the RottenTomatos summary saying it was a “substantial improvement over most video game adaptations” just goes to show how poor the films in that genre usually are).
Academy Award® nominee Jake Gyllenhaal (2005, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Brokeback Mountain), Academy Award® winner Sir Ben Kingsley (1982, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Gandhi), Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2, The Da Vinci Code) and Gemma Arterton (Clash of the Titans, Quantum of Solace) lead the international cast in this epic action-adventure film filled with spectacular visual effects, exotic locales and breathtaking action. Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer (Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy, National Treasure) and directed by Mike Newell (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time boasts a sandstorm of bonus features that bring viewers deep into the mystical lands of Persia and unlock the secrets behind the scenes of this imaginative and entertaining adventure. The combo-pack exclusive ―Sands of Time‖ feature gives fans control of the Dagger of Time, allowing them to rewind time and uncover behind the scenes magic in over 40 spellbinding segments.
I should’ve known when I saw Ben Kingsley in the film that it was going to turn to dirt. No offense to the man as he’s a talented actor and is almost always the shining light of any film that he’s in, but he also tends to sign up for films that end up being absolutely terrible. Sadly Prince of Persia is no different, as everything from Gyllenhaal’s odd accent to the films ridiculous pacing make for one of the most irritating and awkward films to ever grace the action genre. There’s really nothing wrong with the actors in the film—they’re all top notch talent, but the characters they play are nothing short of annoying.
I’m not at all surprised that this film earned as little as it did in the US. It did make back it’s big $200 million budget at least (which really is felt—the CGI is really quite remarkable and there were only a few instances where green screen truly felt noticed), but there was definite disappointment felt all around when it comes to this movie. It did its job of mindless action film a little too well, as everything about it was completely predictable—although the character of Alfred Molina was just positively strange. Add on top of that the freaking daggers penchant for getting stolen…I mean, really, what the hell? You could make a drinking game out of how many times you see the thing swap hands and be drunk on your face an hour into the film.
There’s also the films penchant for pointing out obvious things. When Gyllenhaal’s character first uses the dagger (and presses the button three times to use up all the sand he possibly can), there’s a massive info dump that just spills out of his mouth. Everything you just gleaned from the expensive CGI visuals that preceded it were again reaffirmed in the most basic of way possible. It didn’t even sound as if his character was all that surprised about it either—more that he was just stating the facts. It was a nice batch of info for those completely oblivious to what happened, but if you paid the least bit attention then it was a very moronic segment.
I could go on about the films mediocrity or oddities, but it seems a bit superfluous to do so. It’s a very dumb action film and nothing that would ever warrant a second viewing (unless you needed to gaze upon some Gyllenhaal muscles for some reason). Having never played the video game series I don’t know if it could have been any better than it was, but in the case of video game adaptations it’s probably not much of a bad thing to deviate from the source material for the sake of a more coherent and enjoyable film. Worth a Rental for the action and visuals alone, but definitely not something you’ll want to see again.
Disney unleashes Prince of Persia on Blu-ray in the greatest combo-pack of all: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy. All three in one box is a definite treat, plus you have a nice reflective foil/embossed slipcover on the outside to help pop off the shelves. Regardless if you have a Blu-ray player right now, definitely pick up this release over the others—it doesn’t even matter at this point since it comes with a normal DVD copy as well, so once you do upgrade you’ll be able to watch the bigger and better edition…if you want to do that for any reason. Inside the set is the usual assortment of inserts and whatnot, but nothing overly exciting unless you really like looking at advertisements.
We’ll start off with the films spectacular looking AVC encoded 1080p picture. There is a lot of blown out contrast moments in this film and they all look exceptional; night time sequences are inky black and a nice grain is given at all the proper times. It’s a damn near flawless looking presentation and everything from sweat to clothing detail is rendered faithfully. The sand dagger itself and the visual effects that accompany it are absolutely brilliant looking and are really the highlight of the film to be honest, although the rest of the transfer is at the very least a lively looking presentation and one that will not leave you disappointed.
Audio is a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix and just as you’d hope from a film that centers on a video game hero jumping around stuff and slicing people up, there is an aural cornucopia of noise that resonates from the speakers for about 60% of the movies run time. There are the occasional quiet sequences, but unless they’re in a completely isolated camp area then there’s plenty of chatter in the surrounds as well (and even then during the sandstorm there were some nice abrasive sounds in the surrounds). LFE output is absolutely deafening at times as everything from punches to kicks to slashing swords add plenty of oomph to the film.
Deleted Scene – The Banquet: Garsiv Presents Heads
CineExplore: The Sands of Time – Take control of the dagger and use it to unlock secrets behind your favorite scenes! Turn back time and uncover over 40 spellbinding segments – including “Walking Up Walls,” “Filming in Morocco,” and “Ostrich Jockey Tryouts” – with this exclusive interactive feature. Blu-ray puts you in control!
The lone deleted scene is a mere two minutes in length and the “CineExplore” bit is actually nearly two hours long. The issue is you have to watch the entire film to trigger these things, because they’re remote enabled. There’s no Play All option so you have to watch about four hours of content just to watch the extras. And you won’t want to watch it the first time around, so any time you want to watch an extra you need to sit through the movie itself.
Overall it’s a decent amount of behind-the-scenes extras, but getting to them is pretty tedious. Worth a Rental, but that’s all.
Prince of Persia: Sands of Time is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.