‘Prince’ can’t turn back summer woes

Jake Gyllenhaal fails to bring the character of Dastan to life and makes viewers wish they could turn back the Sands of Time and not see this movie. | Disney Pictures

Disney has got to be the most bipolar movie studio on the face of the planet.  On one hand, they give us the  best animated movies of all time- WALL-E, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, and Up are just insanely brilliant.  This is their good side.  Flip the coin over and you see their seedy underbelly- National Treasure 2, both of the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels, the Alice in Wonderland remake, and now they can add Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time as their crown jewel of suck.

For some reason Disney decided that Prince of Persia– the video game series- would make a good summer action movie. They set it back in time, when Persia was at the height of its power in Asia.  Somehow, though, everyone in this movie is white.  Not a little bit white, but full-blown Caucasian; there is maybe one or two actual Persian people in the movie.  And, apparently, all Persians speak perfect English with a flawless British accent (just because it’s a foreign accent doesn’t make it the right foreign accent; we Americans aren’t that dumb.)

Prince of Persia could have been saved if these were its only mistakes – no one’s perfect, and it’s not trying to be the most historically accurate movie. The plot, however, is really where the movie takes a belly flop into a vat of clichés.  There is – drum roll, please – an orphan boy, who, for some reason, gets taken in by the king, and becomes a prince because he has the “spirit of a king”.  Sorry, other orphans, guess you don’t qualify.  There is also an unattainable princess, and Jake (er, Prince Destan) must woo her while, of course, saving the entire human race from certain destruction.  I guess since Disney owns Aladdin as well it’s not technically plagiarism, but it sure comes close.

The story only gets more mediocre from there.  Yes, there are a few decent fight scenes, and Gyllenhaal makes a halfway decent action hero (he is in awesome shape, at least) – but there are far too many moments when I kept wondering if the movie was ever going to end, and that’s never a good thing, especially considering Prince of Persia doesn’t even hit the two hour mark.

I reserved a completely separate paragraph for the ending, because it is just that terrible.  Prince of Persia was not a terrible movie, even with all its flaws; if you can turn your brain away from some of the acting and the dialogue, it mildly entertains.  That is, until you see how the story ends.  The writers painted themselves into a corner and didn’t see a way out; I wish I could spoil the ending here and rip it absolutely to threads, but unfortunately my journalistic integrity gets in the way (I have taken a solemn vow to never spoil a movie for anyone, even if it is terrible.)  I will, however, say this: movies should never end like Prince of Persia.  It is the cheapest cop-out I have seen a movie take in quite some time, and it leaves a terrible taste in my mouth just thinking about it.  Everything that gave the movie a semblance of meaning is stripped away in an instant, and when the credits started rolling all I could think was, “Really?”

Sufficed to say, I did not like Prince of Persia. It was a waste of time and money for everyone involved.  Do not pay to see this movie; if I had the prince’s magical time-dagger, I’d use it to stop myself from entering the theater.

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