A young fugitive prince and princess must stop a villain who unknowingly threatens to destroy the world with a special dagger that enables the magic sand inside to reverse time.
Take Hamlet, Aladdin and Back to the Future, add the kid from Donnie Darko, harem pants a more than a suggestion of human growth hormone and you have Prince of Persia.
The latest film from legendary producer Jerry Bruckheimer doesn’t disappoint. By which we mean, if you can imagine a film about ancient Middle Eastern culture, produced by the guy who brought you CSI Miami, Armageddon, Top Gun, The Rock, Con Air and National Treasure, then you won’t be disappointed with how this video game adaptation turned out.
Prince of Persia is set in what we could now, of course, call Iran. Not that Disney want to dwell too much of this cradle-of-civilisation-cum-axis-of-evil. In fact, Bruckheimer and Director Mike Newell (of Harry Potter, erm, fame) have managed to cast an entirely white, western group of actors for all the main roles. If you find the idea of Ben Kingsley playing Gandhi a little offensive, then don’t be too surprised when he now turns up as an Iranian Nizam. When it comes to ethnic authenticity, Disney is, it seems, about as up-to-date as a steam powered plough.
But anyway, back to the story. A young street orphan by the name of Dastan (played by a frankly rippling Jake Gylenhaal) fulfils some sort of ancient prophecy by stealing apples and kicking against authority. As a result, the King Sharaman picks Dastan from his life of poverty and crime to be brought up as a prince alongside his two sons. Like Jennifer Lopez, however, Dastan never loses his kid from streets edge and proves to be a fearless and cunning warrior.
After an attack on a mystical neighbouring city, in which Dastan proves his wits and mettle, the prince presents his father with a beautiful ceremonial cloak. Unfortunately for old Dastan the cloak turns out to be poisonous and burns King Sharaman alive. Dastan is, of course, accused of the murder and so begins an epic adventure across the sands of Persia and, as the title would suggest, the sands of time.
Dastan is aided in his adventure by Princess Tamina (played by Gemma Arterton) and her mystical dagger-cum-DeLorean-cum-egg-timer, and as night follows day, the two become embroiled in a will-they-won’t-they romance that has all the sexual tension of a flan.
Of course, Prince of Persia will do very well at the box office. As we face ecological and financial meltdown, a nice bit of ancient adventure goes down a treat. Just like its video game forefather, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time will provide short-term escapism and perhaps just the slightest feeling of having your brain switched off for a couple of hours.