There is an important thing one must understand before going into this movie: screw history. This is a movie based on a videogame with no basis in history except that it is set in Persia. For that matter, it could be set in any Oriental kingdom with the same plot and it would not make a rat's ass of a difference. A careful eye would see references to Mughal architecture and even idols of the Hindu lord Ganesha! The actors speak a mix of ridiculously out of place English and American accents. Their sole aim is to entertain and that they do!
The story is about Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal), a street kid who is adopted by the king as his own son. He grows up to be a warrior for his father and a prince of Persia. The kingdom invades the holy city of Alamut under suspicion that it is selling arms to its enemies (Iraq, anyone?). However, a more sinister plot is brewing. The king is killed and Dastan is accused of the murder. Fleeing from his own brothers (including Richard Coyle of Coupling), his uncle (Ben Kingsley) and their minions, with the beautiful and feisty princess of Alamut, Tamina (Gemma Aterton) and armed with a mysterious dagger, Dastan must prove his innocence, foil the sinister plot and save the day.
Prince of Persia is a fairly typical Jerry Bruckheimar production. Like Pirates of the Carribean and The Rock, the action sequences are fantastic. Swashbuckling entertainment rarely gets much better than this. The special effects, especially the aerial panoramic views of Persia and Alamut are awe-inspiring. The plot is that of a typical Hindi masala movie meant to keep you entertained at any cost. Mike Newell (whose earlier works include Four Weddings and a Funeral, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Donnie Brasco), does a surprisingly good job at handling yet another genre.
In addition to the action, what makes the movie worth the money is the chemistry between Jake Gyllenhaal and Gemma Aterton. They are sizzling together with the right mix of humour and epic romance. Gyllenhaal is surprisingly good as an action star! As he soars across the rooftops chasing his brothers' troops, it is hard to believe this is the same kid from Donnie Darko or the nervous investigating reporter from Zodiac. He maybe a little too human in his performance for classically heroic character like Dastan but he still does a very commendable job! Gemma Aterton is fabulous as the ethereal yet feisty Princess Tamina. With her sharp wit and sarcasm, she rises above the typical damsel in distress act and emerges as an equal to the character of Dastan. In the supporting acts, Alfred Molina is hilarious as an entrepreneur out to make his quick buck.
Ultimately, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time is a videogame adaptation. Yet, it is far better than most other videogame adaptations. This is because it has a decent plot, good actors, dollops of entertainment and that sense and spirit of epic adventure. While its no Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, don't let that stop you. In a time, when there is a dearth of entertaining mainstream films in the cinemas, Prince of Persia is like a breath of fresh air. This one is definitely worth watching on the big screen!