'Prince of Persia' lightweight entertainment

Afp May 11, 2010

LONDON: Aimed squarely at youngsters and families, "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time," is a handsome, fast-paced and innocuous adventure that's easy to take but lacks epic scale.

The Walt Disney Pictures release, which had its world premiere in London on Sunday, opens in North America on May 28. Based on a 2003 Ubisoft video game, the film might be a bit tame for teens; film buffs could enjoy it as a nostalgic throwback to the antics of Douglas Fairbanks and Errol Flynn. Box office should be healthy without going through the roof.

The setting is an imagined version of ancient Persia, and it's all swords and horses, wind and sand, mighty cities and noble princes. The maguffin is a dagger that unleashes sands that can make time reverse, and in the wrong hands could bring about Earth's destruction.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays Dastan, an acrobatic warrior who was adopted as an orphaned child by the benevolent King Sharaman (Ronald Pickup) and raised with two princes, Tus (Richard Coyle) and Garsiv (Toby Kebbell). Much rests on the appeal of Gyllenhaal, a serious actor who is buffed up seriously for the role.

Gemma Arterton plays Tamina, a princess who knows more about the dagger than she lets on, and director Mike Newell works hard to make their encounters sexy and exciting as sandstorms swirl, but there's not much lust in the dust. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer has loaded his crew with top-notch talent, and the picture gleams as a result.

A trio of film editors, Michael Kahn, Martin Walsh and Mick Audsley, deserve full marks for the exciting pace of the picture, and they make the most of John Seale's cinematography, which is inventively framed and beautiful to see.


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