REVIEW: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

31 05 2010

We’ve all come up with our laundry list of complaints about summer blockbusters.  They all seem to fall into the same predictable pattern of making the same mistakes.  Every once in a while, a big summer popcorn flick surprises us by redressing these grievances and win us over by avoiding the normal pratfalls.  They really don’t have to be great in their own right.

However, Jerry Bruckheimer has found success in making ones that are.  He first struck gold with “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl,” a smart swashbuckling action movie with the most unlikely of sources – a theme park ride.  His latest summer tentpole release, the video game adaptation “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,” seemed more likely to tread the path of summer disasters.  But by addressing every problem on our laundry list, it becomes undeniable moviegoing fun and could wind up being one of the highlights of the summer movie season.

We hate having nothing but action.  Director Mike Newell seems to find the perfect balance between sprawling battle sequences and downtime for character and plot development.  And he also finds impeccable timing for the shifts; as soon as we begin to grow bored of one or thirst for the other, we get it.

We hate being insulted by terrible plots.  Much to my surprise, “Prince of Persia” actually sports an incredibly engaging storyline that grabs you from the get-go.  Unlike most video game movies, it does not concede and let the action tell the story.  To say it is intelligent may be a stretch, but it’s only a few rungs below it and certainly much smarter than your average summer popcorn flick.  It skillfully weaves fantasy into an otherwise very real world, and it ties the beginning and end together in a very gratifying way.  But perhaps most impressive, it actually seems to understand the concepts of destiny and fate.

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