Radio 05.28.10
 
This is Ron Salfen, “At The Movies,” and here’s my commentary on a film opening today at The Majestic Theater in Greenville :
 
            “Prince of Persia:  The Sands of Time” is “Lawrence of Arabia” meets “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, or, if you prefer, Ishmael takes Abraham’s blessing from Isaac, but it looks more like Aladdin with a magic knife instead of a magic carpet.
            Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a street urchin born on the poor side of town in the capital of ancient Persia .  One day the King rides by, and sees Dastan being so brave and resourceful that the King immediately takes him to the palace with him, and adopts him into the family, though he already has two “natural” sons.
            The two “blood” brothers accept the no-royal-blood prince fairly well, but it’s their uncle Nizam (Ben Kingsley) who really resents the extra addition to the line of succession, because, in the guise of the king’s trusted advisor, he has designs on the crown himself.  But he’s devilishly patient.
            Fast-forward 15 years, and the mighty Persian army is busy laying siege to a holy city, which Nizam has arranged by falsely accusing them of harboring spies.  But Nizam is really after the magic dagger which resides there.  It seems that when its hollow hilt is filled with a certain type of sand (“the sands of time”), the dagger allows its holder to reverse the hourglass:  to go back in time, without anyone else being aware of it.  Nizam figures that he can “fix” the part of his life where his brother is named king instead of him.  And he doesn’t care who stands in his way, including his brothers sons, whether natural or adopted.
            Meanwhile, the princess of the Holy City , Tamina (Gemma Arterton), is furious that her hapless subjects have been so deceitfully duped and so brutally overrun, and she is determined to do everything in her power to thwart their aggressive intentions.  When Dastan is falsely accused of an attempt on the King’s life (another of Nizam’s diabolical plots), Dastan and Tamina become refugees together, severely distrusting one another, but with a certain grudging respect.  And we all know where this is headed.
            Of course there are holes in the fabric of the story----what would you expect from a script that arose from a video game?  Naturally, the incredible acrobatics of the charming Street Prince are physically impossible, but they’re still fun to watch.  It’s also a pleasure to see them depict a time period that is relatively unexplored in movie lore.  We may not need another Harry Potter, the Half Blood Prince, or another magic ring, from “Lord of the Rings,” and we may not need to see the umpteenth re-telling of Robin Hood, or James Bond, or Batman, or Superman, or even the Pirate Jack Sparrow.  But in Dastan we at least have a new hero:  a resourceful warrior whose judgment in women gets him in a lot of trouble, but whose heart is pure and whose intentions are noble, and he’s open to the supernatural, which means he’s not the biggest thing in his world.  And watching Alfred Molina as a shyster Sheik running illegal ostrich races to avoid government taxation is alone worth the price of admission.
 
This is Ron Salfen, “At The Movies,” for 93.5 KICK-FM