I'll not deny that the initial reason I felt myself drawn to "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" was because of Jake Gyllenhaal. His voice in the commercials. I found the story interesting, too, of course, but it was Gyllenhaal's characterization of the title character that really drew me in to what proved to be a great story.
Yes, I am aware this film is based on a video game and it's a consensus among gamers that no video game based on a movie can be good. Well, I do not care about that. No, I didn't go buy the video game and play it or watch it be played by others. I wanted to see the movie, a creative endeavor in its own right. Movies based on games are different than movies based on books, because games have multiple outcomes, while the story of a book, like that of a movie, is more definite. It is story that matters in movies, and how that story is conveyed.
Prince Dastan (a buff, adventurous Jake Gyllenhaal) is originally from the streets but is the adopted son of King Sharaman of Persia (Ronald Pickup). He fights alongside his brothers, Princes Tus (Richard Coyle) and Garsiv (Toby Kebbell), the king's biological sons, and their Uncle Nizam (Ben Kingsley), who is like the prime minister in a somewhat dual monarchy.
The brothers invade a holy city suspected of selling weapons to enemies of Persia, ruled over by the lovely and enigmatic Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton). When the king visits his sons, Dastan presents his father with a gift -- a custom of the times -- that somehow kills King Sharaman. The gift was given to Dastan to give to their father by Prince Tas -- who is now king. Sound suspicious? Yeah, except no one but Dastan and Tamina, who are now fugitives, know that.
Oh, and as if that weren't enough, the two are also hiding a dagger that could unlock the sands of time and destroy the world. Dastan and Tamina have to run across the desert to try and prove Dastan's innocence to his brothers and the kingdom while simultaneously protecting the dagger and trying not to get killed by Sheik Amar, the greedy owner of an Ostrich racetrack (Alfred Molina), the Persian army and a secret society of deadly assassins.
The acting is well done, emotions and values of each character are very well-conveyed and the characterizations are flawless; and we see the characters in this movie as others see them. The story has a mystical realism to it, pairing the mythical sands of time in a real empire with realistic settings. There really was an order of assassins who partook of hashish ritualistically and hired themselves out as killers. The film's Hassansins are sent out after Dastan by the man who framed him for his father's murder and wants to use the sands to turn back time itself and become king. And when we find out who that is, it's not some big "I killed him because..." monologue; Dastan figures it out and we realize it as he does. It's more subtle and realistic, and that character's actions confirm his guilt.
The movie draws you in through almost immediate, frequent action. It's not over-the-top violence, but there is a lot of quick, stylized fighting that captures the eye and commands attention, especially by Gyllenhaal. The Hassansins have a lot of action too, but the creepiest thing about them is their use of snakes. If you don't mind snakes, you'll find it cool and innovative; if, like me, you fear snakes, you'll think it's creepy and adds to their sinister miasma. Either way, it works.
The film is also remarkably morally clean despite the overwhelming romantic tension between Dastan and Tamina. Their chemistry was conveyed tastefully yet forcefully. The comedy bits are also great, mostly witty barbs between our two lovers, but Alfred Molina also provides great comic relief.
"Prince of Persia" is a good story, mixing fantasy with history, action with romance, and values with comedy for a gripping, good story -- which is why I didn't tell you the whole thing. It's worth seeing this one for yourself.
Lindsey Larson is a recent graduate of Roy High School. She enjoys reading, writing and acting. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.