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Prince of Persia - The Best Game Movie Ever?

Opinion: Andy Robinson gives a gamer's perspective on Disney's new movie blockbuster...

We're all used to seeing rubbish game-to-movie adaptations. Super Mario Bros was atrocious, Max Payne forgettable, Resident Evil mindless - and don't even get us started on anything Uwe Boll's ever touched. (No, really - he might put us in a boxing ring and beat the snot out of us).

So it goes without saying that when I plonked myself down in the Leicester Square Odeon this month to watch Disney's Prince of Persia: Sands Of Time, I wasn't expecting much.

In fact, the knives (or ancient daggers, in this case) were very much out - not least for Jake Gylenhaal's smug Hollywood face.

The movie kicked off with the expected eye-staggering blockbuster glitz - and it was very clear that no expense had been spared by Jerry Bruckheimer to make every inch of his desert tale scream 'epic'.

But then something very odd happened: Sands of Time smashed a summer blockbuster tradition... and didn't get rubbish halfway through. In fact, it only became more brilliant.

Silver screen prince
Against my expectations, I thoroughly enjoyed Prince of Persia - not least the ending; one of the more satisfying denouements that Tinseltown has thrown up this year.

Swash-buckling and CGI-laden it might be, but PoP also features a well-paced story, epic visuals and humour that caters for kids and adults alike. It's a genuinely fun film - and one that despite its teenage-pleasing agenda, doesn't treat you like a mug.

Sands of Time revolves around young Prince Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal), who's born on the streets and adopted by the King of Persia as a boy. After Dastan's father is assassinated, the Prince embarks on an epic journey - along with the lovely Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton) - to save his kingdom from certain, evil magic-induced destruction.

Although the PoP film doesn't directly transfer any characters or scenes from the game over to the big screen, there are plenty of references to Ubisoft's franchise - including more than one visceral parkour leap and plenty of scrambles across Persian rooftops. Indeed, one telling camera swoop (we won't spoil it for you) suggests that the film-makers had taken note of another Ubisoft classic, Assassin's Creed.

The film's most significant link to the game series though is The Dagger of Time, which gives the Prince the power to rewind chronology using the titular Sands contained within.

Thankfully, director Mike Newell (Bruckheimer's on production duties here) doesn't waste the chance to be bit clever with the time-travelling plot, and the concept is presented in a variety of imaginative ways on screen.

In one scene - shortly after discovering the Dagger's enchanting abilities - the Prince manages stabs himself in the chest after a particularly mistimed rewind, only to pull back time again and have his torso magically repaired.

It's also fantastic to see the concept used for a less-than-obvious conclusion to the story - let's face it, a rarity for a Disney film - in which the film's writers monkey around with chronology in a very smart way.


Gyllenhaal and Arterton are well cast and have genuine on-screen chemistry - by which we don't just mean she looks hot. The spark between the pair is good news, considering most of the film's scenes rely on their interaction.

The supporting cast deserve a meaty mention too, with Alfred Molina (aka Dr. Octopus, Spidey fans) giving a fantastic performance and introducing much-needed comedy relief. Ben Kingsley plays the part he does best - the bald-headed English villain, and a very good one he is too.

While Bruckheimer's latest ultimately doesn't quite manage to top the charm and epic scale of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, it does offer a brilliant sense of adventure, a great cast of characters and action scenes that keep you immersed from start to finish.

I'm surprised. Perhaps it was the involvement of PoP game creator Jordan Mechner as scriptwriter - or perhaps it's a sign of a growing respect amongst Hollywood for gaming folklore - but to an extent, Sands Of Time represents a new dawn for gaming's relationship with the cinema.

Although it's probably not the highest accolade of Bruckheimer's career, I have no qualms in calling Prince of Persia the most fun game-to-movie adaptation yet.

And yes, that includes Hitman.