Making the Grades
Based on an ancient videogame whose origins date back to the computer dark ages of 1989, Prince of Persia is finally making its silver screen debut. Because this source of inspiration typically doesn’t provide the seeds needed to produce a compelling plot, I entered the theater expecting an experience akin to watching someone else play the game.
In this movie, the character Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal) is the guy we would normally be controlling with button pushes. Originally an orphan roaming the city, King Sharaman (Ronald Pickup) admires the boy’s nimble street skills and adopts him into the royal family. With his two brothers Tus and Garsiv (Richard Coyle and Toby Kebbell) he grows up in the privileged class.
Fifteen years pass and the King’s brother Nizam (Ben Kingsley) discovers the neighboring kingdom of Alamut is manufacturing fine knives and other weapons. Convinced they are selling these items to their enemies, he advises the brothers to wage war. Amassing Persia’s mighty army, the men easily capture and control the typically peaceful land. They also meet the beautiful queen Tamina (Gemma Arterton), who is outraged over the unprovoked attack and denies the allegations.
The boys’ triumph isn’t met with quite as much enthusiasm as hoped for by their father who is concerned about the validity of the conquest. Desiring a more peaceful alliance, King Sharaman determines Dastan should marry Queen Tamina. But the elderly man’s input is soon squelched after he is unexpectedly assassinated—apparently at Dastan’s hand. With the paternal brothers convinced their adoptive sibling is after the throne, the fugitive dashes for the gates of the city with his reluctant arranged-bride-to-be in tow. Needless to say the accused man’s efforts to vindicate himself will result in countless battles involving swords, crossbows, knives and stunt people.
Families considering this action adventure can expect pervasive hand-to-hand combat and weapon violence. Blood is sometimes depicted in these conflicts, which include a few detailed scenes of men impaled by spears, swords slashed across chests and throats, and characters shot multiple times by small steel arrows that are shown protruding from their bodies. Some gruesome corpses are seen, along with a man burned to death by a topical poison. While these portrayals are sure to disturb some audience members, the good news is sexual content is minimal, consisting of veiled sexual references (one about male anatomy), a close-up of a woman’s cleavage and some scantily dressed females. No profanities were noted.
Relative to other videogame-to-screen adaptation, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time might be one of the best yet—not that is has much to compete with in this genre. There are still points where the film feels like it is moving from one level to the next, but this monotony is punctuated by a few scenes of story development, most of which center on a time-altering dagger. If parents can excuse the moderately intense violence and the average script, then this prince many provide an exciting entertainment choice for older teens.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.
Persia was a real empire. Does this movie represent its true history in any way? What stereotypes do the filmmakers use?
For information on the ancient mountain fortress of Alamut, check this Iranian government site (which also includes some photographs): http://www.alamutbase.ir/
Home Video Viewing Alternatives
Here are some ideas for home video titles that are related to Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.
Walt Disney Studios and Jerry Bruckheimer Films also teamed up to create the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Other dashing heroes in the desert sands can be found in Indian Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor and Secondhand Lions.