BLU-RAY REVIEW: Prince of Persia - Sands of Time
Disney's latest Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy hits home video...
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Hollywood has tried and tried hard to make a video game adaptation of various fan-favorite console and arcade games, including everything from Street Fighter and Super Mario Brothers to Max Payne and Resident Evil and, while some of the films have been wildly entertaining, none have unfortunately hit the bull's eye.
So leave it to Disney to throw their hat in the ring and attempt to make a film adaptation of one of the most loved action games of all time, Prince of Persia. Created by Jordan Mechner over 20 years ago, spanning over 16 games on 11 different platforms, Prince of Persia has become one of the most successful and sought after franchises in gaming history. So maybe it's not as mainstream as Halo or as critically-acclaimed as Metal Gear Solid, Prince of Persia features unique characters, exciting action, and one of the most interesting mythologies of any series out there.
So how is it that Disney's film adaptation of Prince of Persia: Sands of Time - with Mike Newell (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) at the helm and Jake Gyllenhaal (Jarhead, Brokeback Mountain) in the lead - still fall so short?
What was originally hoped to become a series of films (similar to the Pirates of the Caribbean series) has seemingly turned into a stand alone FX-laden movie which, though exciting, entertaining and somewhat spectacular to watch, falls short of high exceptions and fails to deliver on numerous levels. By no means a disaster, it's simply unfortunate the final product couldn't live up to the hype.
While game creator Mechner helped with the story, the screenplay was written by Disney-friendly scribes Boaz Yakin, Doug Miro, and Carlo Bernard, (who's other work includes The Sorcerer's Apprentice and Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, two films which didn't do so hot). Sadly, the dialogue lacks the engaging wit and much needed excitement the special effects deliver, making the movie seem almost one-sided. Likewise, the acting is standard at best with Gyllenhaal looking great in his Persian-inspired warrior garb, but failing to connect with audiences. Actress Gemma Arterton, who plays Princess Tamina, likewise looks beautiful in her flowing robes and gowns, but does little to full engage the viewer.
Writing and acting aside, the visuals are - as previously said - spectacular. Dynamic and interesting to watch, the action scenes at times encompass the full gambit of modern film and, while maybe not Avatar, the CGI looks pretty dang solid. The scenes in which the Dagger of Time is activated capture well the look from the game and the swordplay and fight scenes, while maybe not Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, are fluid and beautifully choreographed.
This particular set includes the film on blu-ray, DVD and digital copy, ensuring buyers get a copy for each home video medium. The blu-ray picture is crystal clear, bold, bright and beautiful...and I'd expect nothing less from Disney. Likewise, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track delivers plenty of pulse-pounding, storm-brewing audio goodness. Clear dialogue, sound effects, and an exciting score come through clear as day and make for a great listening experiance.
This blu-ray set includes a couple of special features which could be considered almost a hassle to access. However, for those looking for a more in-depth experience, discovering what went into the development, production, and creation of the film might just be worth it. The interactive CineExplore: The Sands of Time feature allows viewers to access over 40 production shorts by pressing a button on the remote during the playing of the film. Somewhat tedious with no "play all" feature to allow those who want to watch only the behind the scenes featurettes, viewers must watch the entire film to access all 2 hours of material. That's right, you have to re-watch the entire film to watch the special features. Doesn't seem so special now, does it?
Thankfully, it's easy to access the one (yup, only one) deleted scene from the film. Director Newell's either super efficient in shooting or producers didn't want to clog up the home video with a bunch of extra deleted and expanded scenes. I for one would have welcomed additional bonus material.
By no means a bad film, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is probably one of the best video game adaptations around (though that's not really saying much). Overall, it features amazing special effects, good solid action, decent acting, and a somewhat entertaining story and characters. While maybe it's not a Pirates of the Caribbean or Lord of the Rings, it's definitely not a Bloodrayne or an Alone in the Dark...and for that we are all thankful.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is available now on Blu-ray/DVD Combo and DVD wherever fine home video is sold.
In the coming weeks, watch for our in-depth review of the newly-released Hot Toys Movie Masterpiece Series Prince of Persia: Sands of Time Prince Dastan 1/6th Scale figure (below).
- review by Jess Horsley
- Hot Toys figure photos by OMG