Thursday, February 17, 2011

Take this Persian rug out back and beat the crap from it

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)

Yet another disappointing summer blockbuster, a bloated, bland and boring adventure film with an American actor playing an Asian character but with a British accent.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays dusty Dastan, the titular prince. After raiding a holy city he is accused of killing his adopted father, the king. So he goes on the lame with a beautiful princess (the beautiful Gemma Arterton) to clear his name and yada, yada, yada. Dastan bounces around his and other cities using obvious Parkour/free running styles, but as this is a modern fantasy film, the quick-cut editing employed takes all the fun out of that amazing technique, so we're not sure if we're seeing CGI, doubles or whatever (look at Casino Royale and, of course, District 13 to see how to properly shoot Parkour for a movie). This ridiculous editing style is used in the many action/fight scenes so those are just a messy blur. When will we see an end to this wretched hyper-editing?

This is one of those movies where they spent far too much time and money building sets, props, costumes and on visual effects that very little was actually spent on story and character. Not one character appealed to me, or said a funny or interesting bit of dialogue (Alfred Molina came close). When you watch the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings movies you cannot imagine any other actor playing those lead roles. Persia's characters are so flat that ANYONE ELSE could play the roles; save for Molina, they didn't cast any actors with any real spark.

The movie was shot in a sepia tone making everything look the same, which is bad for a desert-based film. People, here's another word for sepia: BROWN. The story supposedly took place over more than a week, but everywhere they went looked exactly like where they just came from, simply more sepia-tinged sand and rocks.

There was no sense of adventure to be had in this mess. Watch the original Jonny Quest to see how to do exotic adventure on a shockingly limited budget (as least compared to a $200 million movie).

Sitting through a lousy movie in this genre only makes me want to watch a good one, like the Ray Harryhausen Sinbad movies, which had everything Prince of Persia does not: memorable characters, exotic settings, and a true sense of fun and adventure.

ps: As a capper to show you how they completely f-ed up everything, check out the movie's title font. Instead of a design that evokes a sense of the exotic or otherworldliness or adventure - see Raiders of the Lost Ark, the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings movies - we get a dull white font that looks like it's perfect for a contemporary drama!

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