As this is my first blog entry I’ll start with a short introduction. I am a twenty-two year old soon-to-be graduate of Northwestern University. Like most males in their twenties I love friends, sports and movies. However, unlike most males in their twenties, I also love Disney, especially Walt Disney World and the Disney’s motion picture productions (I am actually going on a graduation trip to the World!).
At the heart of a good movie is great storytelling. Beginning with animated classics such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs moving to intricately detailed attractions, hotels and restaurants at the theme parks, and progressing into the Pixar age, storytelling has been Disney’s core competence. That is why many of their movies and their theme parks are second to none. I will share with you my love of movies as I review a different Disney movie every week. Some may be new releases while others will be old classics. My reviews are only my personal opinions, and I would love to hear your thoughts and comments as well. So now that the intros are over….on with the show!
Disney’s Middle Eastern Orphan Boy Take Two:
A Review of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
When I saw the first trailer for Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time I was conflicted. I was intrigued by the pairing of producer Jerry Bruckheimer (C.S.I., Pirates of the Caribbean, National Treasure etc.) and the Disney corporation. , but the idea of Jake Gyllenhaal playing in a plot designed originally for a video game worried me. To date, I had not seen a Gyllenhaal movie that I had liked and because of cinematic endeavors such as Htiman, Max Payne and Doom, I am leery about video game based plots. Yet most likely because of an unhindered brand loyalty, I found myself trying to convince others to see Prince of Persia (POP) with me in theaters.
POP opens in a Middle-Eastern marketplace and thoughts of Aladdin come to mind faster than you can say “street rat.” The young Dastan (Gyllenhaal) is an orphan boy chosen by the King himself to be a prince. Had there been a vest-donned monkey déjà vu would have been an understatement.
The movie is true to Bruckheimer’s traditional style and majors in spectacle. The vast desert landscapes, stunning ancient castles, and over the top CGI effects create a sort of visual overload, a typical Bruckheimer tool. Unfortunately, at times rather than being awe-inspiring, the effects can be distracting and even unbelievable.
The storyline actually pleasantly surprised me. The plot has depth that is not expected of a video game based film, and its central conflict is multi-dimensional. While certain parts of the plot are forced upon the viewer by character explanation, for the most part it progresses along quite smoothly.
There is no doubt who Disney is targeting with this film. As Tinker Bell movies grow in popularity and announcements have been made regarding the WDW Fantasyland expansion, many are criticizing Disney for alienating the elementary to middle school boy demographic. This PG-13 movie has plenty of action without the gore of similar films, and its hero is one that young boys will undoubtedly pretend to be. I found myself disliking some of the shallow humor, but ten years ago, I probably would have found the jokes rather funny.
When the sands of time settle, the movie is entertaining. The ancient cultures may not be historically accurate, but they fit well into the story. Gyllenhaal was ok, but he didn’t seem like the right fit for the role. Gemma Arterton plays the female role well, and this could be her breakout film as her only other movie of note was a small role as Strawberry Fields in the lackluster Quantum of Solace. Both were clearly cast for their looks rather than acting persona. I don’t see Disney basing a ride off of this one soon, but if you are a parent of young boys or are just a Disney loyalist, this is one you should see. Disney proves it can tell a story well even if it is from a video game. I just hope that they don’t get to ambitious and try Call of Duty.
Contributed by: James N.(NDI#82). James is the Disney Driven Life’s resident movie reviewer and creator of The CLAWtomic BAUM Movie Reviews Blog