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Review: Prince of Persia- The Sands of Time & A Nightmare on Elm Street

By December 15, 2010No Comments

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time posterThere’s some­thing quite inter­est­ing going on with Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time that isn’t imme­di­ately appar­ent from the pub­li­city. Somehow, screen­writers Boaz Yakin, Doug Miro and Carlo Bernard (there’s also a story cred­it for Jordan Mechner who cre­ated the ori­gin­al video game series) have snuck a clev­er little par­able of George W. Bush’s pres­id­ency into a big budget action-adventure, past the Disney gate­keep­ers with the unlikely con­niv­ance of block­buster pro­du­cer Jerry Bruckheimer (Pirates of the Caribbean).

Now, I’m not sug­gest­ing for a moment that this polit­ic­al allegory makes Prince of Persia worth see­ing – the rest of the film is so stil­ted I couldn’t pos­sibly do that – but it does make for an inter­est­ing diver­sion while one is forced to sit through some of the poorest action dir­ect­ing in any recent big budget film.

Muscle‑y Jake Gyllenhaal plays Dastan, a noble orphan boy adop­ted in to the Persian roy­al fam­ily. On a mil­it­ary escapade to over­throw some neigh­bor­ing ter­rit­ory or oth­er, Dastan and his two (really roy­al) broth­ers are conned into invad­ing the Holy City of Alamut next door. Their uncle Nizam (Ben Kingsley play­ing the Dick Cheney role) wants the magic sand hid­den beneath the city and, while the broth­ers go search­ing point­lessly for weapons of mass destruc­tion, only Dastan sees through the plot and tries to restore the right­ful order of things.

It’s the exe­cu­tion that lets this film down. I don’t often sit in a film wish­ing for dif­fer­ent shot selec­tions – “I need a close up here! Where’s the wide shot? Hold that a beat longer! Gah!” – but I found Prince of Persia to be a frus­trat­ing exper­i­ence, not helped by Alfred Molina’s com­edy cas­bah sales­man, try­ing (and fail­ing) to ful­fill the Jack Sparrow func­tion. I don’t think we’ll be see­ing any more in this franchise.

A Nightmare on Elm Street posterOnly two films in this week’s review – I’ve been trav­el­ling – but I did want to briefly express my dis­ap­point­ment that Bob the Builder: The Legend of the Golden Hammer isn’t play­ing in Wellington. Its absence means the only oth­er film I got to see this week was the new remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street in which Jackie Earle Haley (Rorschach in last year’s Watchmen) takes on the icon­ic stripy jump­er and razor-sharp gloves of Freddy Krueger, last seen (I think) in 1991’s Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare. It’s a sat­is­fact­ory reboot in lots of ways and I’m pleased to report that for once the phys­ic­al effects work bet­ter than the digit­al ones.

For those that are unfa­mil­i­ar with the idea: Freddy K is a nasty piece of work who cur­rently inhab­its the dreams of the kids he abused at a pre-school. The deal is that if he kills you in your dreams you die for realz, so no one wants to go to sleep. But sleep depriva­tion brings with it scary hal­lu­cin­a­tions and Freddy is very persistent.

Haley isn’t giv­en much to work with once the fire-scar make-up goes on but, even then, he doesn’t seem to be hav­ing nearly as good a time as the legendary Robert Englund who ori­gin­ated the role. The kids are pass­able, with no one look­ing like a Johnny Depp break-out star but then even he didn’t really stand out in the first one.

Printed in Wellington’s Capital Times on Wednesday 2 June, 2010.