Though he's not right for the movie, have I mentioned that Jakey G. has bulked up nicely?
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If I Could Turn Back Time:
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
5-28-10 KATM Exclusive Review
By Richard Knight, Jr.
“If I could turn back time” Cher wailed in one of her most memorable hits from the 1980s and that
about sums up the biggest problem and the major plot twist in
Prince of Persia: The Sands of
Time, the based on a video game latest addition to the sword and sandal movie genre.  This one
stars a bulked up (quite nicely) Jake Gyllenhaal of
Brokeback Mountain fame, playing the street rat
turned adopted prince whose two brothers have a chip on their shoulder where he’s concerned
because a) he’s not to the manor born and b) because he’s so darned good in the chop socky
department and c) because he’s the real reason (and not them) that he and his fellow Persians (all
speaking with precise British accents, naturally) have captured a peaceable kingdom, including the
beautiful but feisty princess (Gemma Arterton, late of
Clash of the Titans).

But Jakey’s triumph soon turns to disaster when his adopted father, the king, dies after putting on a
beautiful though deadly robe (aha! the old poisoned robe trick) that Jake supposedly rigged up.  The
entire kingdom, including the two brothers and their uncle, the pretender to the throne (Ben Kingsley,
wearing that Michael Jackson eyeliner signifying the ancient Middle East), are now after him.  But
luckily our Jakey, hippie hair flying in the wind (and looking rather fetching – have I mentioned that
he has bulked up nicely?) outwits his potential captors and is aided in his escape by the princess who
guards the sand filled dagger that leads us back to the plot twist: when filled with magical sand and
wielded correctly, the dagger can turn back time, allowing the wielder to change events and even
prevent death.  The princess has taken a solemn vow to keep the dagger out of the nefarious hands
of men who will misuse its power like Kingsley, who suffers from a bad case of brother envy and who
wants to use the dagger to place himself on the throne…forever!

This silly bit of hokum cheerfully cribs from seemingly 1001 Arabian Nights pictures but oddly, doesn’t
have much zest for the genre and the action is only fitfully enthralling.   The movie, shot in a palette
of gold, tan, cherry red, and a lot of orange (it seems to have been dipped in bronze) features a lot
of those interchangeable
Lord of the Rings cast members along with Alfred Molina who hams it up as a
rapacious conman.  Though Molina gives the movie a nice energy boost, even he can’t do much with
the film’s attempts at humorous wordplay – which make the teeth ache.  And though the picture
seems like it would be perfect Saturday matinee fodder (I would have loved this movie when I was
12), it’s missing the exhilaration of many of its cheesier forebears.

A large part of the problem is a miscast Jakey (have I mentioned that he has bulked up nicely?) who
does okay with the English accent but whose screen persona is the antithesis of an exhibitionistic
action hero.  No matter how many times Jakey takes out a bad guy or wields that dagger, there’s
something withdrawn, distracted and introspective about his screen persona.  He’s too complicated
emotionally to be convincing in such a 2-D character part (but have I mentioned that he has bulked
up nicely?).  There are also moments where you can almost taste the condensation by the actor for
the less than inventive scenario and wilted dialogue he must spew.

Though the studio certainly must have been hoping for a new action franchise,
Prince of Persia finds
them off to an indifferent start.  Mike Newell – director of
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (one of
that franchise's most delightful installments) – would seem an inspired choice for the film but he has
been handed a script that has as much trouble finding its tone as a group of Bedouins lost in a sand
storm and a star who looks the part (have I mentioned that Jakey has bulked up nicely?) of an
action hero but who simply refuses to go all the way to cheeseland to deliver the goods – which a
movie like this must have to completely work.  A less accomplished, more “personality” driven actor
like Brendan Fraser would have understood that immediately (though have I mentioned that Jakey
has bulked up nicely?).
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