Tuesday, October 5, 2010

PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME (Blu-ray & DVD)

Based on a popular video game franchise, PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME (2010) is a reasonably engaging adventure film with some nice stuntwork, mostly-effective special effects and a decent - if predictable - story.

Orphan Darstan (Jake Gyllenhal, DONNIE DARKO) is adopted by the Emperor of Persia and is raised along with his two sons (Richard Coyle and Toby Kebbell) as a Prince. In order to foil the plans of his evil uncle (Ben Kingsley, SEXY BEAST), he must join with a beautiful priestess (Gemma Arterton, QUANTUM OF SOLACE, CLASH OF THE TITANS) to protect a mystical dagger that can unleash the powerful Sands of Time.

PRINCE OF PERSIA is a pretty standard studio fantasy film. Lots of money has been thrown up on the screen, and the movie looks pretty spectacular. The story is nothing we haven't seen before, but it's certainly serviceable for an Arabian adventure. As for the cast, no one really stands out, but no one is notably bad, either. The characters are all fairly shallow, so none of the actors are given much of an opportunity to stretch their thespic muscles. If anything, Gyllenhal's moody hero is too sullen for the swashbuckling heroics he's asked to perform - he certainly doesn't exhibit any of the daredevil charm of Douglas Fairbanks, Burt Lancaster or Errol Flynn - which is a shame, and sucks some potential fun out of his scenes.

The stuntwork and CGI effects are expertly done, but as the characters are so underdeveloped, it does rather feel like you're watching someone else play a video game, rather than being swept up into a cinematic story. As directed by Mike Newell, PRINCE OF PERSIA is a pleasant, tasty concoction - but it's all empty calories.

Disney's Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital Copy three-pack is a great package (although two out of the three discs will never be touched again). The Blu-Ray disc's 2.40:1 1080p HD widescreen transfer is beautiful to behold, with sharp detail, solid blacks and bright colors. Audio is a robust 5.1 DTS Master Audio or 2.0 DVS. The "Cinexplore" bonus features are also in HD, which is nice, and include more than 40 behind-the-scenes segments. The 2nd disc DVD sports a equally flawless 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, Dolby Digital 5.0 audio and a "making of" featurette. A "Digital Copy" disc for portable devices rounds out the package.

As movies based on video games go, PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME is pretty decent. It's inoffensive, colorful and fairly entertaining. You could do worse for an evening's rental.

BUY: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy) [Blu-ray]