Certainly one of the bigger video game adaptations in years, "Prince of Persia" is based upon the massively successful video game franchise. While I was never a huge fan of the series (not that I think they're bad games - far from it - just not my cup of tea), I was interested to see what kind of a movie could be pulled together from the material.
The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal (yes, Jake Gyllenhaal, who is also the last actor I could have ever imagined in the role) as Prince Dastan, who was adopted by the king as a child, when the king viewed the child's bravery. As an adult, the movie follows Dastan as he winds up leading a raid into a neighboring kingdom who is suspected of selling weapons.
However, when Dastan is framed for the death of his father, he heads for the hills with the raided kingdom's princess, Tamnia (Gemma Arterton). While trying to escape, Dastan stumbles on to the secret behind the dagger Tamnia wants back: that the sands within the dagger's handle have the ability to turn back time. Not only that, but buried beneath the kingdom is the larger sands container, and the one controlling the sands controls immense power.
So sets off a race to stop the one seeking control - someone close to Dastan whose identity comes as a surprise. There is a fair amount of filler throughout the middle of the movie - a few run-ins with the head of an Ostrich Racing League (don't ask), played by Alfred Molina - while the Molina character's line eventually goes somewhere, but like a few other moments, these pieces could have been trimmed down to improve momentum. The other aspect of the film that could have improved momentum would be for the film to not take itself quite so seriously; the film would have benefited from a bit more lightness and fun.
The performances aren't bad: while Gyllenhaal still wouldn't be the first choice I'd think of for this role, he does reasonably well with the action sequences and provides at least a moderately energetic performance. The actor's attempt at an accent is questionable at best, but the effort is otherwise satisfactory. Ben Kingsley chews scenery as Dastan's uncle - while certainly not the actor's finest hour, it's a role the actor can pull off without much fuss. Arterton gets stuck with the thankless task of being the upset princess for half the movie and then the one that (of course) suddenly falls for Dastan in the second half. It takes far too long for the character to advance from the first part to the second.
Visually, the picture impresses, with location filming in Morocco and solid visual effects work. While the movie doesn't make as much use of the acrobatic action as the game, there are certainly still a number of action scenes that will please game fans. FX work is generally above-average, as well.
Overall, "Prince of Persia" is a fine way to pass a weekend afternoon; while it could have been improved with another pass or two at the script, some trimming and a bit lighter tone, the movie still remains moderately entertaining.
The set provides the Blu-Ray edition, DVD Edition and Digital Copy Edition of the film.
VIDEO: "Prince of Persia" is presented by Disney Home Entertainment in 2.35:1 (1080p/AVC), and the transfer is absolutely delightful. Despite the high, harsh sun of the desert environments, the picture remains rich and never appears blown out. Sharpness and detail are also terrific, as the picture appeared silky smooth both in close-ups and wide shots.
A touch of edge enhancement was seen on a couple of occasions, but the picture otherwise remained free of print flaws and other concerns. The earthy, rich color palette remained well-saturated and rich, with no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: The DTS-HD 5.1 MA audio presentation was certainly a bold effort, with terrific use of the surrounds to deliver effects during the action sequences and ambience during other periods. Audio quality remains thunderous, with the booming score from Harry Gregson-Williams and well-recorded effects during the action sequences. Dialogue also remains clear and crisp throughout.
EXTRAS: The Blu-Ray offers one deleted scenes and the "Cine-Explore" featurette, where one can watch content during the movie via seamless branching. The sleekly filmed material provides an enjoyable look behind-the-scenes, with detailed views of filming on-location, working with the actors and filming action sequences, among other elements. The DVD edition included here also offers, "An Unseen World: The Making of 'Prince of Persia'."
Final Thoughts: Overall, "Prince of Persia" is a fine way to pass a weekend afternoon; while it could have been improved with another pass or two at the script, some trimming and a bit lighter tone, the movie still remains moderately entertaining. The Blu-Ray offers fantastic audio/video quality, but a commentary would have been a nice addition to the extras portion.
The Film B-