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Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Time Out New York Project: Issue #765, May 27–June 2, 2010
Dir. Mike Newell. 2010. PG-13. 116mins. Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley.
A Jerry Bruckheimer–produced video game adaptation—it has to be good, doesn’t it? (Ya, sarcasm.) And those who’ve seen director Mike Newell’s D.O.A. Harry Potter entry (Goblet of Fire) shouldn’t be surprised at how flat and dull this spectacle is; his fantasy filmmaking ability ranks somewhere between nil and zilch. But howzabout those Jake Gyllenhaal abs?! Sorry Gyllenhaalics: They’re on display only in an early scene, in which his Prince Dastan, a former street urchin who earned a royal title by impressing his province’s king, demonstrates some Bowflex-sculpted prowess in a brawl.
From there it’s all deltoid, all the time—small consolation given the sub-vision quest on which Dastan embarks after his adoptive monarch father is murdered by a Ming the Merciless look-alike (that would be Ben Kingsley’s eyeliner-loving vizier, Nizam). A spunky princess (Arterton) from a rival city and a magical knife that holds…the sands of time (!) figure into the journey. But c’mon, you’re really here to see Alfred Molina in brownface, giddily extolling the pleasures of ostrich racing, right? Well, maybe not.
Back to those sands: It seems they hold the power to—take it away, Cher!—turn…back…tiii-me. But for only a minute or so: For the really powerful flux capacitor shit, you have to go to the underground source. What will a megalomaniac like Nizam do, given unlimited time-traveling power? Prevent Dastan from being born? Hit on Lea Thompson? Stop himself from starring in BloodRayne? No, there’ll just be a lot of incoherent action sequences, a listless romance and a big-ass opening weekend. But ooh, those Gyllenhaal eyebrows!—Keith Uhlich