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prince of persia
Prince of Persia
Reviewer: Ricardo Barberini
Director: Mike Newell
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley, Alfred Molina, Steve Toussaint, Toby Kebbell, Ricard Coyle





Jordan Mechner created the Prince of Persia video game back in the late 1980’s and since then various companies have since published many game titles of this series. Then Disney saw a good thing and decided to make a movie based on the video game. 

Prince of Persia is an engaging fantasy about a young orphan boy Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaall) who is rescued from the squalor of a paupers market by a benevolent king and is adopted as his third son. 

Since Dastan is not of Royal Blood, he has no chance of becoming a King.  But, he still has his wild ways and leads the Persian armies into battles.  The King’s brother Prince Nizam, played miserably by Ben Kingsley, is Dastan’s confidant and protector.

During a military mission, the Persians attack the peaceful and sacred town of Alamut. They believe, mistakenly that they are producing superior weapons of destructions for the enemies of the Persian Empire (Shades of George Bush and his quest for Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq, no doubt.)

The people of Alamut have a secret, sand loaded, dagger that can turn back the time for a few moments.  But if it is used unwisely, it can destroy the human race. The dagger is captured by Dastan just before his adopted father is killed while wearing a poisoned garment captured from the royal chambers of Alamut.  Prince Dastan is unjustly blamed for the murder of his father and he runs away with the Princess Tamina of Alamut (Gemma Arterton.)  No sooner are they out of reach of the Persians than a renegade tribe of runaway slaves headed by the wisecracking Sheik Amar (Alfred Molina) captures them.     The Jolly Sheik tries to sell them back to the Persians, but Dastan and Tamina escape again. 

Prince Dastan, who is convinced that his elder brother murdered his father to inherit the throne, seeks help form his trusted uncle Nizam.  Nizam arranges an ambush to kill Dastan. It is then that Dastan realizes that it was his uncle who murdered his father because of intense hatred and the desire for the crown.  

Nizam grabs the dagger of sand and, with Dastan and Princess Tamina in hot pursuit, heads to an underground chamber to turn the time back and become the King, instead of his brother.  

The ensuing action is the usual battle of good versus evil. There are the snake charming assassins who are veritable killers. Then there is the Chamber of Sands below ground that could cause the end of humanity if it is punctured.  Finally, there is the murderous uncle who stops at nothing to kill the lowborn Dastan whom he has hated all his life but pretended to befriend.

Prince of Persia is astonishingly well directed by Mike Newell.   The Special Effects are superb as befits a movie based on a video game.

The acting is well done. That is mostly a tribute to the director who managed to corral his troops to perform their scripted acts.   We expected more from Ben Kingsley in this movie, except that he looked and acted like an over painted effeminate old pimp with lots of mascara on his eyes.  Was he the guy who won the Oscar for playing Gandhi?

Alfred Molina was a real joy to watch in this movie.  He has been a fixture in movies and TV series for a long time.  The last time he played a Persian was in “Not without My Daughter” in the 1991 TV miniseries with Sally Field.  We are willing to overlook the camp act of wearing gold teeth in an action movie that purports to have happened hundreds of years ago.

Jake Gyllenhaal is just a pretty boy with mischievous eyes.  Gemma Arterton is a real treat for the sore eyes.  She is attractive in a very seductive way. There is not much acting in this movie.  Probably there are more special effects and super stunts in this movie than real acting. 

When the movie “300” was released, there was an outcry from the Persians (That is the other name for Iranians) that they were unfairly portrayed as savages and their leader, the King Xerxes, was portrayed as an effeminate ruler.    It is true that the Persians invaded Greece and were beaten at Thermopolis but it is also true that they went on to conquer Athens and other parts.  The story is much deeper. It is also ironical that some critic are saying that some of the characters in the Prince of Persia do not look Persian enough, but kept quiet when a bunch of ghouls and Neanderthals portrayed them in the “300.”  The fact is that neither of the two movies are historically accurate. In any case, this movie treats the Persians fairly and they should have no complaints this time.

In the end, it is a fun movie to watch and we give it starstarstar  Suitable for the entire family.