Let’s get something straight right upfront; I didn’t expect Prince of Persia to be good. I figured with a steroid-enhanced, pouty method-actor in the lead, and a Bruckheimer-driven $200 million worth of action, it would be a half-assed James Bond, BCE.

Not high hopes, but I was still expecting a movie, or at least an attempt at a movie. An approximation, even.

Notsomuch. In fact, I’m not even sure lead programmer – sorry, director – Mike Newell was ever told about the movie part. Obviously, he was making a videogame, and if people didn’t like it, they could damned well stay home.

Which, largely, they have. Hurray for small mercies.

It isn’t just the overwhelming amount of overwhelmingly bad CG that makes Prince of Persia feel like a cutscene that’s dragging on too long (I kept wishing for a big spacebar to hit… Get on with the killing, already!), it’s all the elements combined.

Everything in this film looks fake, from the actually fake CG backgrounds to the fake CG camera moves to the real – but wooden – actors. Somehow, everything is processed in a kind of low-contrast mellow brown that leaves the eye wanting something tactile to latch onto. At one point, I even began to wonder if one of the horses was real or Memorex.

Jake Gyllenhaal spends the entire movie trying to look like a charming rogue, casting his puppy-dog gaze up through meticulously tousled hair. Most often, he succeeds only in looking like Tramp from the Disney classic, wishing someone would give him some pasta to snorfle.

I don’t know what happened to Gemma Arterton. I didn’t want to strangle her in Quantum of Solace, but maybe that’s because her part was much smaller and designed to be prim and irritating. Princess Tamina, however, runs the emotional gamut from shrill to cunty, hitting every excruciating beat in between.

However, even after weathering kidnapping, being sold into completely G-rated slavery, and a full-fledged sand storm, her makeup and hair always look perfect. So there’s that.

Alfred Molina, not content with having played Satipo in Raiders of the Lost Ark, reprises John Rhys-Davies’ role as Sallah. Sir Ben Kingsley whips out Generic Villain #72, exerting precisely the minimum effort to avoid having his Oscar revoked, but all the while rocking some amazing eye liner.

Still and all, the worst element was what passed for a “script.” Nothing in this movie connects, or makes sense. Apparently, the largest empire of the ancient world had a terrific highway system because people routinely complete journeys which seem to cover hundreds of miles, on horseback, in a single day. When Dastan has a puzzle to solve at the beginning of the movie, it’s so obviously a game-inspired moment the camera actually pulls back to give us a top-down view of the city as if we’re checking our map during a break in our FPS.

Where most movies have acts (preferably three), Prince of Persia plainly has levels (seven, by my count) complete with level-ups, weapon upgrades and boss monsters at the end of each. When Dastan finds himself facing off against Nizam at the end of the film, Kingsley’s character has suddenly gone from being a simpering pretender to the throne to dual-blade-wielding death-machine.

Apparently he leveled up, too.

There are moments of entertainment. Adrianna & I got several good laughs. Sadly, all of them were at the movie’s expense.

It’s not worth sitting through this giant digital turd to get those few laughs, but I can’t wait for the Rifftrax version.

3 Responses to Prince of Magnesia

  • Honey West says:

    you do realize, of course, that Hollywood hasn’t made a good movie since 1945…well, okay, maybe 1969, but that’s the end and then the Golden Age turned to shit. WHY do people continue going to movies anyway?

  • Bryn Pryor says:

    I disagree. There’s a lot of crap now, but there was a lot of crap then, too… we’ve just forgotten about most of it. There are still occasional great films, and some of them even come out of the studio system (damned few, granted). At any given point in history, 99% of all media is crap. Prince of Persia is dreck, but it’s better than, say, Golddiggers of 1933.

  • Bryn Pryor says:

    Sure thing. Thanks!

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