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Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time(2010)
Set in the mystical lands of Persia, a rogue prince and a mysterious princess race against dark forces to safeguard an ancient dagger capable of releasing the Sands of Time -- a gift from the gods that can reverse time and allow its possessor to rule the world.
For more about Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and the Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Blu-ray release, see the Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on August 31, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Alfred Molina, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley, Ronald Pickup, Richard Coyle
Director: Mike Newell
» See full cast & crew
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Blu-ray Review
The Prince stumbles, but Disney's AV presentation soars...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, August 31, 2010
Oh, Hollywood. Dear, sweet disembodied Hollywood. I love you, I do, but your inability to produce a jaw-dropping, groundbreaking videogame adaptation is wearing thin. You took spandex, web shooters and adamantium claws and worked magic, transforming a fledgling, frankly hopeless subgenre into an arresting, multi-billion-dollar cultural phenomenon. I know, I know. It took a few decades and a few Christopher Nolans to perfect the superhero film, but you eventually came through. Even before hitting your stride, there were hints of greatness to be had (Superman, Superman II, and Tim Burton's Batman among them). But videogames? With so much of their allure and charm rightfully wrapped up in smart, satisfying, innovative gameplay, tight control schemes, and entertaining hands-on experiences -- elements that can't possibly translate to the silver screen -- their adaptations require a far more graceful touch. Their stories and characters demand meticulous care, their individual mythologies need substantial streamlining, and their loyal fanbases deserve to be treated with respect. Instead, you've given me Super Mario Bros, Street Fighter, Double Dragon, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, Wing Commander, House of the Dead, Alone in the Dark, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Doom, BloodRayne, DOA: Dead or Alive, In the Name of the King, Hitman, Max Payne and The Legend of Chun-Li, some of which arguably represent the worst films of all time.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time was supposed to be different, Hollywood. You promised Curse of the Black Pearl chemistry and charisma. You promised gripping fights, stirring stunts, dazzling special effects and a sand-swept tale of genuine adventure. But you did what you always do... cram creator Jordan Mechner's classic platformer and Ubisoft's still-thriving videogame franchise through the same rusty grinder; one that punctures, pulverizes and liquefies everything that passes through it into a bland, unseasoned paste. No, Prince of Persia isn't a complete waste of celluloid. I'll even go so far as to say it handily bests the vast majority of videogame adaptations on the market. But it's merely an average, by-the-numbers, FX-laden fantasy actioner; hardly the revolutionary thrill-ride that could have rejuvenated an ailing genre and ignited a creative firestorm.
Director Mike Newell and producer Jerry Bruckheimer's Prince of Persia tells the story of Dastan (William Foster), an orphan whose selflessness attracts the attention of the king (Ronald Pickup). Adopted and made a prince, the young boy is raised as a warrior and swordsman, and soon becomes one of his father's most trusted commanders (not to mention the spitting image of Jake Gyllenhaal). All changes though fifteen years later when Dastan secretly steals a mystical weapon -- a dagger with power over time itself -- during a vicious attack on the sacred city of Alamut led by his brother, Tus (Richard Coyle). But while news of the assault infuriates the king, his anger is short-lived. Literally. Poisoned by a sinister assailant, the king is killed and Dastan is blamed for his murder. With little choice but to flee the region, Dastan sets out to clear his name, avenge his father, and unravel the plot behind his death. He even joins forces with an unlikely ally: Tamina (Clash of the Titans' Gemma Arterton), a feisty Alamutian princess determined to protect Dastan's recently acquired dagger. It seems Dastan's dastardly uncle, Nizam (Ben Kingsley), is after the dagger too, and hopes to use its magic to change history and claim Persia's throne as his own. Can Dastan and Tamina put a stop to Nizam's nefarious plot? Will romance bloom in the desert between our two reluctant heroes? Will a colorful cast of characters help them battle a band of sword-slinging baddies? Is there a Prince of Persia question that doesn't come chained to a predictable answer?
Arterton imbues Tamina with welcome assertiveness and wherewithal, and Kingsley gnaws, savors and spits out his fair share of chewy scenes, but Gyllenhaal -- miscast, mismanaged and misused -- is out of his element. While his commitment to an increasingly complex series of stunts and action sequences is certainly commendable, his somber eyes and sullen weariness are at constant odds with the swashbuckling, time-bending adventure that ensues. His scenes with Arterton are a drag as well, and their symbiotic turmoil is as problematic as the film's copious use of green screen. The pair aim for playfulness, but settle on snarkiness; attempt to kindle a convincing romance, but forge little more than a superficial, malnourished connection; try to embrace sillier aspects of the plot with as much sneering tenacity as Kingsley, but rarely relent or sully their neatly-manicured nails. Individually, they're serviceable leads. (Gyllenhaal's spry exchanges are appreciated, and Arterton's coy wit keeps her various encounters lively.) Together though, they lack the spark and effortlessness their sand-crossed lovers so desperately require. Gyllenhaal's swordsmanship and physicality is far more believable than anything else he brings to the table, and it's a shame he struggles to make Dastan anything more than a roguish, distinctly European incarnation of his videogame counterpart. It doesn't help that the plot, though fairly faithful to the franchise, serves up an uninspired mish-mash of familiar characters, obvious twists and choreographed dust-ups the likes of which wore out their welcome ten years ago. At its best, it treads water alongside the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels. At its worst, it... erm, treads water alongside the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels.
Still, as fun, shallow summer fare goes, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time isn't nearly as bad as it could have been. Numerous scenes give up the ghost, but just as many showcase what could have been. Swords clash with palpable electricity, time reversals bring with them a host of visual wonders, and Kingsley and his henchmen place many a daunting obstacle in Dastan's path. Newell even unearths several redemptive character arcs that infuses some dramatic weight into the film's at-times hollow theatrics. If nothing else, Prince of Persia skirts by with momentum, humor and a string of exciting action sequences, all of which make Newell's trek across the desert entirely digestible. (Even enjoyable on occasion.) It's a sad state of affairs when such a middle-of-the-road adventure emerges as one of the best videogame adaptations in Hollywood's canon, but I suppose you have to start somewhere. Give it a rent and see if it appeals to your tastes.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Blu-ray, Video Quality
"With a title like Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time," I thought, "I should see grains of sand scraping across Jake Gyllenhaal's stubble-peppered face." Well, dear readers, Disney delivers, conjuring up a magnificent, unexpectedly filmic 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer that begs gamers and filmfans to press pause, freeze time and take in every frame. Sand isn't the only thing that cozies up to Dastan though. A fine veneer of grain graces the entire film and, save a few negligible inconsistencies, never becomes a distraction. Moreover, John Seale's pan-seared palette is teeming with vivid primaries, bold earthy hues, gorgeous skintones and exceedingly deep black levels, all of which leap to life in glorious high definition. Crush threatens to undermine a handful of shadowy interiors, but any perceived shortcomings point to Newell and Seale, not Disney. Detail is crisp and revealing as well, offering viewers a veritable treasure trove of perfectly resolved textures, stunning closeups and remarkable edge definition. (A quick look at the disc's standard DVD counterpart feels less like a worthwhile comparison and more like a trip back through time.) And the technical presentation? Smearing and significant ringing are nowhere to be found, depth and dimensionality are nothing short of impressive, and I didn't notice a hint of artifacting, banding, aliasing or any other meddlesome anomaly. Even those who despise every minute of Prince of Persia will be entranced by its top notch Blu-ray transfer.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Come on, did you expect anything less? Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time descends on Blu-ray with an aggressive, dynasty-toppling DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track that won't soon be forgotten. The LFE channel can barely contain its enthusiasm, launching headfirst into every scuffle, scrap and sword fight that erupts on screen. Hearty and refined, its unrestrained support infuses Newell's action beats with weight and power, and grant each set piece legitimate presence in the mix. Rear speaker activity is just as engaging, immersing listeners in the throaty roar of a sand storm, the bustling crowds of a city market place, the near-silent approach of trained assassins and the rousing surge of Harry Gregson-Williams' score. Pans are silky smooth and directionality is so precise that I found myself turning my head on a handful of occasions; dynamics are brazen and brassy, and the soundfield is utterly engrossing. My lone complaint? Dialogue, while crystal clear and intelligible, sometimes rests just above the fray, slightly out of balance with the rest of the mix. The opening narration is a bit loud and bawdy, several lines are somewhat disconnected from the actors speaking them, and a few random shouts seem closer than they should. Poor ADR or brief prioritization mishaps? You be the judge. It never amounts to a debilitating issue by any means -- my description probably makes it sound far worse than it actually is -- but it did nudge me out of the experience every now and then. Regardless, Prince of Persia's lossless track is a captivating powerhouse through and through, and should easily please fans and newcomers alike.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Blu-ray edition of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time features more than two hours of supplemental material. Accessing it all is a tiresome process (that involves babysitting the remote and waiting for icons to appear on screen), but it's appreciated nonetheless.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is a decent adaptation of the videogame franchise, but style trumps substance at every turn. Ah well, as big, dumb summer adventures go, it's an entertaining diversion in the vein of the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels. Thankfully, Disney's Blu-ray release is more rewarding. Its near-perfect video transfer rarely disappoints, its chest-thumping DTS-HD Master Audio track will wake the neighbors, and it offers gamers and filmfans two hours of behind-the-scenes material. If you haven't seen The Sands of Time, I'd suggest renting it first. However, if you already grinned your way through Prince of Persia when it was in theaters, don't hesitate to pick up this impressive release.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time: Other Editions
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Blu-ray Sales, September 20-26: Robin Hood Steals Gold from Princ... - September 30, 2010
Robin Hood was the top-selling Blu-ray title during the week ended September 26, according to Nielsen VideoScan. Disney's latest direct-to-video feature, Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue, was second. The previous week's number one, Prince of Persia: The Sands ...
• Blu-ray Sales, September 13-19: Prince of Persia Jumps to the Top... - September 23, 2010
As expected, Disney's Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time was the top-selling title on Blu-ray during the week ended September 19, according to data from Nielsen VideoScan First Alert. Second and third place were taken by two titles apparently outside the BD demographic: ...
• This Week on Blu-ray - September 14-20 - September 14, 2010
The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise has been a huge success for Disney, though its commercial appeal was almost universally questions prior to the first film's release. In hindsight, this may have been a contributing factor to the film's grand success – no one ...
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