The drought for video game-to-film adaptations continues with ‘Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.”

Based (somewhat) on the 2003 game of the same name, ‘The Sands of Time’ is a dull and directionless mess.

The first and most obvious culprit is the screenplay. As seems to be standard in these adaptations, the plot has been altered quite a bit, and
the changes all seem to be for the worse. Instead of a focused narrative involving the Prince trying to undo the damage he has done by
unleashing the sands of time, the film sees him exiled following a rather ridiculous turn of events involving the murder of the king.

He goes here and there across the desert and back again without any real hint at where he’s going or why he’s going there.

The dialog is completely flat throughout with a few mild chuckles being the only highlights.

Perhaps the saddest part of the film is that the entire cast seems so eager to inject some life into the film, but the material simply doesn’t
provide them with anything to grasp onto.

Jake Gyllenhaal turns out to be well cast here. He plays Prince Dastan as a dashing, fun character, and we can certainly see that in a better
film this performance would have been enjoyable.

Fairing even better is Gemma Arterton who provides the Princess Tamina with an excellent and natural spunk.

The supporting cast is generally very good also with notable work from Alfred Molina, who provides the best humor in the film when his
character is introduced as an enterprising ostrich race organizer.

The score from Harry Gregson-Williams is also an overachiever here; successfully blending some beautiful themes with authentic ethnic
flair.  This is an incredible achievement in a Jerry Bruckheimer production.

Unfortunately all of this talent goes to waste.  Mike Newell, whose steady hand was at the helm for ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,’
directs the film as if he is trying to appeal to a crowd that obviously does not include himself.

His mix of fast and slow motion along with hyper-edited action sequences is completely at odds with his previous work, even on an effects-
driven action film such as ‘Goblet of Fire.’

It’s like watching a film based on a video game directed from the perspective of someone who doesn’t quite understand video games.

The film relies heavily on over-the-top stunt sequences, but stunts aren’t impressive if the camera is too close and the editing is too
manic.  Clearly they got the wrong Brit to direct, as someone like Martin Campbell (Casino Royale, The Mask of Zorro) would have been a
great choice for the action sequences if nothing else.

Newell also struggles with the tone of the film throughout. We can never tell if it wants to be a serious epic or a fun bit of cheese.  
Although, to be fair to Newell, this problem stems from the script.

I could go into the fact the time-reversing effects of the sands of time are only utilized when it’s convenient to the plot, but plausibility is
the least of the film’s problems.

It’s just a dull, lifeless and forgettable film.  Despite a good cast and a proven director, ‘Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time’ fails to elevate
itself above the horrid depths of video game-to-film adaptations.  It may not be nearly as embarrassing as some, but even for fans of the
game, it simply cannot be recommended.

* ½
(out of four)
PRINCE OF PERSIA:
THE SANDS OF TIME
Directed by: Mike Newell

Written by: Boaz Yakin and Doug Miro & Carlo Bernard

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Ben Kingsley, Alfred Molina,
Gemma Arterton

Cinematography by: John Seale

Music by: Harry Gregson-Williams

Released: May 28, 2010; 115 Minutes