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Archive for May 23rd, 2010

An invading army quickly capture a middle eastern city following an invasion based on information that there way be weapons inside. They quickly realise that they were mistaken and there are no weapons. The real villain is closer to home and the reason for the invasion is more important and more valuable than weapons and it is the it is hidden under the sand of the city. One square jawed hero must fight to prove the truth. Don’t worry you haven’t been diverted to my review of Green Zone but when you strip away all the gloss it sounds like an Iraq war film. Keeping my plot spoilers to what you will already know from the trailer the Prince of Persia of the title Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton) are thrown together along with a mystical dagger that that can turn back time for the holder.

I have never made any secret of my dislike of Disney, more often than not I am disappointed by summer blockbusters and I think CGI has made filmmakers lazy. Therefore I was destined to hate this movie, for some strange reason I actually quite liked it. In Mike Newell the movie has a good (but not great) director whose best films came in the 90’s (Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), Donnie Brasco (1997) and Pushing Tin (1999)). The cast is good with Jake Gyllenhaal who is always worth watching; Gemma Arterton who I have a new found respect for following her fantastic performance in The Disappearance of Alice Creed; Alfred Molina provides the comic relief and Ben Kingsley does what Ben Kingsley does!

I don’t own a games console so have never played the game it is based on but do remember the original game from the late 80’s. Basically a platform game with tasks to complete, traps to avoid and enemies to fight. All this has been captured really well in the scenes of Gyllenhall running around the cities jumping, climbing all over the architecture. The action is reminiscent of the Parkour seen in District 13 (no great surprise David Belle founder of parkour and star of District 13 is listed as a stunt coordinator). With this in mind it comes as some surprise that so much of the movie is set in deserts away from the city away from the movies natural environment.

Shot on location in Morocco and on a Pinewood sound stage it is an attractive movie with good scenery and imaginative cities that owe a debt to Lord of the Rings. It was shot by Australian cinematographer John Seale a veteran of nearly forty movies including Anthony Minghella’s The English Patient and Cold Mountain. All this is completed by great attention to detail with the props and costumes. The great danger of a movie involving time travel is that the final conclusion of the movie can be used to wipe away everything you have just seen in the previous two hours (think The Butterfly Effect) leaving the audience feeling cheated. Without giving anything away this movie handles the use of time travel and the ending really well.

Having said so many positive things about the movie now time for the negatives. To call the plot week is generous and the dialogue is beyond terrible. For a film about time the use of time and space is appalling; at one point we learn a week has passed at a time when the movie appears to be set over little more than a couple of days. There is no indication of how far people travel or how big anything is.

Not a great movie but it does about all you can expect of a dumb summer blockbuster and best of all it isn’t in 3 fucking D! The CGI is used to enhance the visuals and rather than the story created around what CGI can do. If successful the movie could be Jake Gyllenhaal’s final step from actor to moviestar.

Three Stars out of Five

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