Monday Movie: Prince of Persia - Sands of Time by @destroytheearth

Why are movies based on video games such absolute rubbish?

Prince of Persia may finally yield an answer. Hit the jump to find out.
The Prince of Persia games are enshrined in video game history as repeatedly offering great innovation and wonderful plotlines. If only you could say the same of the film.

I had high hopes for this; all the film needed was to recreate the game's set up and climax, packing what remained with one-liners and swashbuckling, parkour action, but no; Hollywood is far, far too arrogant to concede that they cannot improve on a plot written by someone outside of Hollywood.

To cater to the producers, the game's writer, Jordan Mechner, came up with a new, and inferior, plotline that pointlessly casts The Prince as an Aladdin-knock-off street rat adopted by the king. Rather than have him team up with a bow-wielding slave girl to overcome a sorcerer's dastardly plot to use the magic, time-manipulating Sands Of Time to take over the Persian Empire, the film overloads the plot with political machinations, additional siblings and comedy side-kicks.

The result is not appalling, and is, in the most part, good fun. However, it is also instantly forgettable; aside from the lingering annoyance at the plot's enormous holes and unnecessary complications. As seen in the trailer, the special effects are impressive, but the full-length feature reveals a distinct lack of imagination in the design, as well as a missed opportunity in the use of the Prince's magic dagger that allows him to rewind time.

This was the game's unique selling point, but, whilst we have a quick flash of the whirling camera instructing the Prince on how to proceed, little attempt is made to make any interesting use of the game's most-exploitable gimmick.

The cast's performances are almost universal in being lesser work from talented actors. Jake Gyllenhaal is an expert in subtly underplaying conflicted characters, not in oozing the brash charisma an action hero needs. Ben Kingsley and Alfred Molina are obviously capable of more, but earn their paycheque with a satisfactory performance. However, none of the cast are capable of injecting enough charisma into this sub-par dialogue to make you have the slightest affection for the characters; aside from Gemma Arterton... who is always exceptionally, uh, charismatic... hmm-hmm....

Arterton's saving graces aside, the film's worst crime is its appalling dub; sometimes you can't even tell who's supposed to be speaking, given that no-one's lips are moving and the sound offers no impression as to where this dialogue is meant to be appearing from.

So, to return to my initial point: films based on video games are always terrible because Hollywood is too inept to be able to faithfully translate such gold. There can be no other reason why one of the greatest-plotted games of all time can only translate into a mediocre action movie. Watch the film and you will enjoy it whilst you watch it, but all you will be left with after is an overwhelming desire to play the game again, which is no bad thing.

On the other hand, we can only hope this film will give way to an adaptation of the game's sequel, a far more interesting, and much darker, tale.

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