I remember playing the original Prince of Persia videogame on the computer when I was a kid. In fact, it was my favorite game for a long time. The basic premise was that you needed to jump a lot, because if you didn’t jump a lot then you would fall into a pit of spikes and die. The end. Cool! Fun! But even in the height of my Prince of Persia fandom, I never thought “this should be a movie.” Of course, around the same time I also loved going to Disneyworld, because WHO DOESN’T, and at no point at the height of my Disneyworld fandom did I ever think the Pirates of the Caribbean ride should be a movie, and yet I found the first movie in that series to be exceedingly enjoyable! (I should also point out that when I was a child, I had a successful career as a Hollywood development executive, which is why it is so meaningful that I didn’t see the hidden potential in these franchises. Otherwise, I was green-lighting stuff left and right, for sure.) Unfortunately for Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Jake Gyllenhaal is no Johnny Depp. He’s barely even a Keira Knightley! Although, they definitely got the “jumping a ton” part right. No one will ever complain that Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time didn’t have enough jumping in it.
Speaking of jumping, let us JUMP into talking more about this movie! (BARF!):
So, wait, does anyone know what happened? I’m just kidding, BUT ONLY KIND OF. Like, those trailers were always so unnecessarily confusing, and now I understand why: because the movie was so unnecessarily confusing. They did their best at conveying that to us ahead of time, I will give them that. “How are we ever going to get anyone to see this painfully convoluted movie about a magic dagger and a buried crystal full of time sand?” “Well, we could just feature quiet, dramatic images of Jake Gyllenhaall and Gemma Arterton, both of whom are very attractive, looking attractive?” “No, we should definitely do our best to condense two hours of winding, nonsensical plot into a two minute version that makes as much sense of this ridiculous movie as possible.” “Done.” I’m not sure I have ever seen a movie that had as many scenes in which the main character has to just flat out EXPLAIN what the hell is going on while pretending that he’s having a normal human conversation. I’m sure if you go to the “Memorable Quotes” page on IMDB the whole thing is just like:
Prince Dastan: It was my uncle Pizza, not my brother, Gargamel, who killed my father, the king, who is not my true father, because I was born a pauper, with the poisoned cloak, after we ransacked the holy city of Ishtar, and now we must return the sacred magic time dagger to the Cave of Forgetting before it gets into the wrong hands and is plunged into the Time Crystal and the world is destroyed but also there are Ring Wraiths on our trail so kiss me.
Woof. Slow down, Jake Gyllenhaal! And stop smiling! You smiled throughout the entire movie! We get it! You have a charming smile! Relax!
Of course, the movie wasn’t that hard to understand since its plot convolutions were all just lazily stolen from other movies and TV shows. There were bits of Lord of the Rings in there. Star Wars. Some Quantum Leap. And how mad was Jerry Bruckheimer just weeks before the release of his tent pole summer blockbuster, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, to see the last few episodes of Lost and realize that he wasn’t the only one with a MAGICAL LIGHT CAVE THAT CONTAINS THE HEART OF THE WORLD?
“I’m going to find a loophole, and I’m going to kill J.J. Abrams!”
Why did Jake Gyllenhaal and Gemma Arterton always insist on kissing at literally the single worst moment imaginable? I mean, I’m all for the release of DRAMATIC TENSION through ROMANTIC INTRIGUE, but are you guy seriously making out when you are surrounded by trained shadow assassins? Oh, the evil Final Boss is about to plunge the Time Knife into the Time Stone in this underground hellscape, destroying the world as we know it, but you guys are going to stand chest-to-chest on this one-person outcropping of crumbling rock and hold a lingering kiss followed by some exchanged meaningful glances before dealing with the situation. I guess that’s not any worse than the fact that the Time Dagger is LITERALLY supposed to be a cock. Right? So many references to the Time Dagger being Jake Gyllenhaal’s cock! This movie was clearly made by a grad still trying to put the finishing touches on their Masters Thesis concerning the “Western Dominance of the Male Gaze.”
Speaking of Western Dominance (read: racism): do we need to talk about why everyone in this movie about the ancient Persia was acted entirely by white people with British accents? We don’t, right? I didn’t think so. MOVING ON.
Um, Gemma Arterton? YOWZA! I know that she was in James Bond: Quantum Of Solace, but I didn’t really notice her because I was paying so much attention to my wife, Olga Kurylenko, so that I could tell her what a good job she did at the after-party. Now I have two wives! Just kidding. She’s a human being, not some beautiful, stunning piece of meat! And so sassy, right guys?! She was the Prinsass of Persass. Haha, whatever. “She can hold her own!” Right. That was definitely the point of her character for sure. As for the rest of the performances: I hope Dame Ben Kingsley enjoys his new pool house. Seriously. He deserves a new pool house. I know how expensive pool houses can get. Well, no I don’t. But I can imagine they get very expensive? And far be it from me to criticize an acting legend’s cash-grab. Get that cash, Dame! Jake Gyllenhaal on the other hand: whoops! I mean, it’s not his fault. He did the best he could. They just shouldn’t have let him try in the first place. Usually, Hollywood movies are pretty by-the-numbers, and while you might get a surprisingly GREAT performance from one actor over another, it’s rare to see someone actually “miscast.” They A-list crop are all pretty good at their jobs, and with the addition of millions of dollars in make-up and pretty costumes, it’s all just showbiz. Usually. Not here. It was like watching a two-hour, 200 million dollar (200 MILLION DOLLARS!) mistake.
“If only the Magic Sacred Time Dagger was real, then maybe we could get a do-over!”
All of that being said, I actually did have fun. At the very least, I was less bored during this than during Robin Hood, even though I’m sure Robin Hood was technically a better movie. Because “techinically” speaking, this was a really bad movie. Lazy. Silly. Miscast. Convenient Ending Out Of Nowhere Where Somehow Putting The Time Dagger In The Time Sand Crystal Doesn’t End The World But Actually Takes Jake Gyllenhaal To An Almost Impossibly Convenient Point In The Past To Fix Everything. Also Floaty Memory Flashback Faces In The Time Sand Magic Basement Crystal, Really? But somehow still kind of fun. To be fair, I might have had a mild case of sun poisoning. Almost definitely. And I was a little drunk still from brunch. It’s not my fault that I know how to have brunch. Just like it’s not Jake Gyllenhaal’s fault that he doesn’t know how to do a good job in a movie he shouldn’t be in. The fault for that lies firmly with your boyfriend, Mr. Bruckheimer.
“Aww, no fair!”
And now, feel free to plunge your Opinions Dagger into the Comments. Because just like in the movie, almost nothing will happen.