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Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

There should be no surprise Prince of Persia comes from the same people who produced the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.  Full of the spectacle one would expect from those who bought that gaudy trilogy to life, it unfortunately resembles their worst aspects.  This sadly turns a potentially appetizing time-waster into an overloaded and sometimes messy swirl of CGI excess. 

 

The ancient ‘Dagger of Time’ gives its owner the ability to travel back in time and change the past.  Desiring this for his evil purposes is Nizam (Ben Kingsley) who hopes to become ruler of the vast Persian empire.  The only person who can stop him is Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal), one of the King’s sons.  Teaming with the beautiful Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton), he aims to foil Nizam’s plot and his attempts at creating a powerful sandstorm which could destroy the world. 

 

A rule of any adventure film is to ensure there is always the prospect its heroes may not be victorious.  This element of threat enables the audience to emotionally invest in the story until its conclusion.  Prince of Persia completely ignores this by using its time travel concept as a means of lazily escaping any high peril.  Coupled with one dimensional characters and an out of place adult tone in a film supposedly geared towards a general audience, you receive a very uneven escapade.  Its’ saving graces are its action and scenery which are stunning in their realization although these eventually groan under the weight of a poorly constructed plot and weak direction. 

 

Based on a video game, Persia’s screenplay unwisely adheres a little too closely to its origins.  Almost every sequence is of the standard ‘multi-level maze’ format found in most gaming platforms leading to a story riddled with inconsistencies.  With a ‘make it up as it goes along’ feel evident, the performances aren’t much help as everyone over-plays their roles without embodying the conviction needed to make it work.  Whilst the distinctly hammy acting occasionally amuses, it becomes tiresome as each action scene breathlessly blends into the next. 

 

Prince of Persia is a mindless popcorn flick of the highest order.  Although its’ action and spectacle are as dazzling as hoped, everything else from its’ direction and woeful script are scant compensation.  As an addition to the ‘game to film’ genre it notches up another mark against its’ dubious strike ratio. 

Rating out of 10:  4 

The Losers

The Losers is derived from a short lived graphic novel whose influence from various action films is apparent.  Given that modern cinema has slavishly copied from the multi-coloured panels of comic books it seems both mediums have become reliant bedfellows.  Clearly seen in this adaptation, the series’ gritty and fast paced style is well suited within the frames of its striking cinematography.
Sent into the Bolivian jungle on a deadly mission, the members of the U.S. Special Forces, dubbed The Losers, are armed and ready.  Headed by Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), their assignment becomes compromised when they just miss being targets of an assassination attempt.  Discovering they were set up by dangerous weapons dealer Max (Jason Patric), Clay and his team set out to prevent Max’s plans for nuclear armageddon with their own special brand of lethal force.
Benefiting from Sylvain White’s taught direction, The Losers is a mean and lean action fest.  White appears to have learnt from the failures of previous graphic novel adaptations by charting a narrative course and sticking with it.  He shows a good understanding of the broad canvas the story is painted on with the mix of drama and humour blended well.  What’s interesting is how its “heroes” are morally ambiguous at best despite their overall good intentions.  Their team dynamics become crucial due to Max’s many manipulative tricks and make for engaging viewing between the bullet induced feats.
Whilst the heroic characters have plenty of charisma, its villains have less impact.  This is chiefly due to Jason Patric’s performance, as he portrays Max as a charming cad prone to comedy than kills.  It’s difficult to believe such a person would be so devious and you never really feel any genuine menace despite his actions.  Despite this the rest of the production is well realised with the many fights and stunts as dazzling as the small budget allows. 
Choosing the best elements from the books, The Losers is a generally entertaining ride.  Although perhaps not as widely known as the more popular masked heroes, its cast of determined characters are put to good use in this fine rendition of graphic novel fantasy.
Rating out of 10:  7