Prince of Persia Movie Review in Advance
If you’re heading out to the movies this weekend and contemplating checking out Prince of Persia starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arteron and Ben Kingsley, you may want to check out the grade that our contributing writer Jeremy Ponti gave it first! Read on for a Prince of Persia movie review in advance.
By Contributor: Jeremy Ponti
So let’s get this out of the way right now: I love the Prince of Persia games that this movie takes its inspiration from. How much do I love the series? They are the only series of modern games that I have actually completed. In a day and age where I buy more games than any sane person could conceivably finish, I actually managed to complete each game. So I think I’m in a perfect position to talk about this film.
With that said…
Like comic book adaptations, films based of video game properties have been dubious. Few have risen above just average (Tomb Raider, Resident Evil), while most are atrociously horrible (Street Fighter: Legend of Chun Li, Super Mario Bros., any film by Uwe Boll). So where does Prince of Persia land?
Fans of the video games series might actually find themselves enjoying the film for the
most part. While not a direct adaptation of the game of the same name, there are enough homages that followers of the games series might appreciate it. Some of the visual cues got the fanboy in me giddy like a school girl. For example, there were times where the camera follows the path the characters vision as the character tries to plot out his movement. Non-gamers might be wondering “WTF” but they actually follow the visual style of the game. However, while better than the average video game adaptation, it does not make it a fantastic film overall.
Producer Jerry Jerry Bruckheimer really knows the formula to making a fun, if not hollow, movie experience. So much of Prince of Persia’s beats and rhythms are reminiscent of that other Bruckheimer film, Pirates of the Caribbean that all that was missing was a messed-up teeth Johnny Depp. But for all of the high action sequences, it’s the weak story that keeps the movie from soaring to new heights.
That “formula” that I mentioned is probably responsible for the weakness of the script. While the playful banter between the characters is reminiscent of the game, I think it came off as too “action movie”-ish. And while you liked the characters of Dastan (Gyllenhaal) and Tamina (Arterton), I never really felt like their character progression made sense. It was too Hollywood and all too familiar.
Luckily, while the characters themselves were empty, the choice of Gyllenhaal and Arterton worked great. Gyllenhaal (looking uncannily like the character from the game) is a convincing action star with a likable and roguish personality. It helps that he looks fantastic in the film. Likewise, Arterton is breathtakingly beautiful. While her character feels more like a Persian version of Elizabeth Swann, I can’t help but forgive her because she looks so damn gorgeous.
The rest of the movie is rounded out by a solid cast, everyone playing their roles grand enough to give the film a feeling of epicness.
Speaking of “epic”, this movie is beautifully shot. Mike Newall does a great job in making the movie feel large and epic, giving the scenery a sense of magic and wonder befitting the subject matter. Where Newall fails though is in the editing of the action scenes. As beautiful as the scenery is or as beautiful as the casting is, it is all rendered unwatchable by the quick cuts and jarring shaky-cam editing style used. Apparently more is better in the eyes of Bruckheimer and company as they opted to use 10 shots to tell an action sequence as opposed to just 4 or 5. A damn shame as I think Gyllenhaal could have been convincing without all of the camera trickery.
Overall, what keeps me from out-right loving this film is that it didn’t manage to capture
the magic from the game strongly enough. Hints and homages are there, and the epic scope helped, but the weakness of the script and overall shallowness of the characters prevents it from being a fantastic film. While fans of the video game series can breathe a sigh of relief that the movie doesn’t suck, general movie watchers can at least enjoy some mindless movie fun. Oh… and it helps that Arterton is gorgeous and Gyllenhaal has his shirt off throughout the film. I’m just saying.
FINAL RATING: B+
Prince of Persia is in theaters this Friday, May 28th. See the preview and some stills below the jump.