Huffpost Entertainment
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Marshall Fine Headshot

Movie Review: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Posted: Updated:

It doesn't matter that Mike Newell is the director of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time or that Boaz Yakin was part of the trio of writers responsible for the script.

No, only two salient facts matter: that this movie is based on a videogame and, more important, that it was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer.

I used to think that it was a draw between Bruckheimer and Joel Silver as the producers of the most insidious and and brain-destroying films -- the kind that have quickly sapped movie-going audiences (make that young movie-going audiences) of their attention span. Not that they are solely responsible -- there are too many other factors to pin the blame only on them.

Rather, they have contributed significantly to the dumbing-down of the action film into a series of "action beats" and special effects, with script and character sitting in the back of the bus. And I would tag Bruckheimer as the winner in that race to the bottom because his influence extends to TV as well.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, opening Friday (5/28/10), is more of the same: a mix of mindless action, eye-clogging special effects and ADD-oriented plotting. Emotions? They tend toward schmaltz -- again, lowest common denominator stuff, aimed at the cheapest, most easily manipulated feelings. Humor? Snarky wisecracks take the place of actual wit. Story? Take one from Column A and two from column B.

Prince of Persia
has a built-in gamer audience, who won't care that watching this movie is like sitting in someone else's living room watching him play a game. And not just any player: This one knows all the cheats, all the hidden treats, all the secret traps because he's played it hundreds of times before. So he bounces and jumps and fights his way easily from level to level at break-neck speed, only occasionally hitting a roadblock that forces him to recalibrate or start over.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays Dastan, the kind of name that sounds like corporate rebranding to disguise a product's unsavory past. (Hello, Altria, formerly Philip Morris?) His name is preferable, however, to those of several other characters whose throat-clearing names sound like a menu of inedible foodstuffs rendered in Urdu.

Dastan is the adopted son of the king of Persia, with two older brothers. They take the king's men to invade a nearby city -- a holy city, no less -- because their uncle Nizam (Ben Kingsley, channeling Ming the Merciless from Flash Gordon) has acquired evidence that this ancient outpost is manufacturing and providing weapons to Persia's enemies. But even as they invade and capture this supposedly holy city, evidence emerges that, in fact, the uncle's intelligence was false.

OK, I know, it's just a Jerry Bruckheimer movie, but the politics here can't be ignored.

This review continues on my website.