Sporting the requisite three-day scruffy beard that all action heroes must have today, Jake Gyllenhaal sets out to save the kingdom of Persia from evil doers, using his insane parkour skills to outwit and outmaneuver them.
Dastan (Gyllenhaal) is his name and he was orphaned as a child and grew up on the streets in the shadows of the king's palace. One day in the market the king witnesses a feat of courage from Dastan and ends up adopting the young kid as his own. He brings him into the palace, where Dastan grows up like royalty, even leading his own part of the king's army.
Then, Dastan is framed for his father's murder, after his brothers wrongfully attack the holy city of Alamut, and now his brothers want him dead. At the center of all of this is a dagger that can, if the button on its hilt is pushed, turn back time for an instant. Just in case it sounds a bit too farfetched, a princess named Tamina is introduced as the sole expositor of exposition. Her entire role in the movie is to dispense endless gobs of information about the dagger, the magical sands that control time, and why it was created in the first place. The problem is, even after she's done explaining every minute detail about the time bending knife I found myself thinking, "It's a knife that turns back time. I don't need to know much more than that."
Dastan criss-crosses the land of Persia, which coincidentally isn't home to any actual Persians as far as the eye can see, in order to clear his name. Don't be fooled by the Disney moniker, 'Prince of Persia' is really violent. I know that Disney can make violent movies if they see fit, but be ye warned. This is far too much violence for the youngsters (in this reviewer's opinion).
Alfred Molina, who is introduced as a smarmy outlaw who fixes ostrich races, is the only bright spot in an otherwise dim movie experience. Molina goes all out with his ridiculous character and at least looks like he's having a good time. The rest of the cast slums along with the tedious script from one CGI-laden action scene to the next.
Gyllenhaal makes a semi-believable action hero, but he's stuck in a dead end story without life or consequences. See, when you have a time traveling device like the dagger, it introduces a story element that no matter what happens it's all able to be fixed. This essentially strips away any drama the story has amassed. The characters become lifeless and dull, because no matter what they do, we know that the dagger and the sands of time will indubitably right the wrongs and make the last 90 minutes of the movie completely worthless. I feel like Brian Griffin felt after the two episode arc in 'Family Guy' where Stewie killed Lois. After finding out that nothing that happened was actually real Brian says "Isn't that just like a giant middle finger to the audience?" I'm here to answer. Yes… Yes it is.
Disney's 1080p presentation of 'Prince of Persia' comes complete with a yellowish color timing that seems to cause havoc with detail here and there, not to mention it makes skintones appear yellowish most of the time, and everyone with redder than average lips look like they're wearing lip gloss.
This is a colorful presentation, color timing aside, featuring the yellows, browns, and reds of the land of Persia. It's also worth noting that you would probably expect a modern day action film like this to be presented crisp, clean, and completely clear. Not so fast, while 'Prince of Persia' does indeed have a nice layer of grain that completes a very filmic look. Problems arise during darker sequences, as shadows (combined with the odd yellow timing) threaten to gobble up faces and destroy a lot of the fine detail that has been so prevalent throughout the rest of the film.
Gyllenhaal's action hero stubble is perfectly visible, so is the smooth richness of Gemma Aterton's tanned skin. Detail works well during much of the movie, but does, to its detriment, make us focus on some of the cheese-tastic CGI effects such as the camera sweeping over Alamut's city during the opening battle scene. It just looks so fake, and even faker in 1080p. The good news is that 'Prince of Persia' is free from aliasing or banding. Source noise is kept at nil, providing a nice clean picture to watch. If it weren't for that yellow timing, which I know is a conscious choice by the filmmakers, this would most likely be demo quality.
Big, loud, boisterous, full of all sorts of high-octane action hijinks 'Prince of Persia' delivers on the audio front, providing us with a heaping helping of surround sound sonic delights. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio provides a full-bodied audio presentation that puts you in the middle of the rooftop-jumping action. LFE is the most noticeable aspect of the soundfield, pumping out bass on numerous occasions from the galloping thuds of horse hooves, to the rumbling approach of a sandstorm, the LFE stays lively and engaging throughout the movie.
The audio presentation isn't without its minor faults. There's a series of dialogue where Dastan and Tamina are in the desert that don't synch up with their mouths. Every other piece of dialogue is perfectly lined up, but that sequence isn't for some reason. Dialogue is clearly defined throughout, but has its trouble fighting with the overall raucousness of the action-packed soundtrack. Panning effects are done with precision, offering an engaging soundfield of whooshing arrows, galloping ostriches, and swooping knife blades. The surrounds are fully engaged offering perfect atmosphere for much of the movie, kicking in when Dastan is sliding down CGI sand or when the giant sand hourglass has been breached by the dagger and all sandy hell breaks loose.
This is a great sounding soundtrack, with a few minor hiccups along the way. Still this presentation will keep you entertained for the entire movie, even if the movie is slightly less entertaining on its own.
Here's something really strange. The DVD of this set features a special feature that isn't on the Blu-ray in the same way. "An Unseen World: Making 'Prince of Persia'" is a making of feature that is located on the DVD, but is nowhere to be found on the Blu-ray. Some of the shots are used during the Blu-ray exclusive CineExplore, but it isn't found in whole.
The 'Prince of Persia' is silly, I mean what do you expect coming from a video game turned movie, but it takes itself far too seriously. The introduction of the dagger and its sands o' time give the story a far too convenient deus ex machina. I've voiced my displeasure about the movie, but in the end you know if you want to see this glossy Bruckheimer/Disney action production, and if you do, the video and audio will not let you down one bit. It's a great looking and sounding action epic. The special features are very weird though, having the making of feature solely on the DVD while the Blu-ray gets bits and pieces of the same feature sprinkled throughout its CineExplore feature. I have no idea what happened there. Anyway, if you're looking for a brainless (and I stress that word) action film with great visuals and some ear-busting audio, then look no further than Jake Gyllenhaal's swarthy action hero stubble and the 'Sands of Time,' but just rent it.