Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton and Ben Kingsley star in a film written by Jordan Mechner, Boaz Yakin, Doug Miro, and Carlo Bernard and directed by Mike Newell.

Jake Gyllenhaal, a versatile and easygoing chameleon of an actor, adds another notch on his gun (or sword) and another number on his IMDb entry, warrior division, with this popcorn epic. In Jarhead, he arrived with hair shorn and stewing in Desert Storm ennui. Here, his hair is long and flailing in another desert, the real and imagined desert of ancient Persia, where he plays a native with an English accent (following the perverse rule of semi-imperialistic linguistic logic whereby any film taking place outside America, sans subtitles, can be deemed exotic with a flash of British accents).

He’s an orphan who could be king, elevated to the royal clan and drawn into a dastardly scheme to kill the emperor and steal the throne. For much of the film, Gyllenhaal’s wrongly accused Dastan is in flight, expertly wielding swords and other blade-running weapons, and delaying as long as possible the first tender kiss with the lovely and tough princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton). Add to the mix another villainous role by Ben Kingsley, who long ago tossed in his Gandhi towel, and a deus ex machina subplot regarding a magical dagger which can reverse the sands of time—handy for killing off and then kicking in a “just kidding” narrative clause—and you have a shameless fun entertainment package.

Did we mention that the film is based on the video game of the same name? That would help explain the almost nervously pyrotechnical pacing and dynamics of the film (not to mention its CGI-enabled crumbling landscapes and obviously Photoshopped grandeur).

Yes, it is summertime, and this is a summer box-office contender aimed at the proverbial entire family, and cinematic art takes a backseat this time around, for both Gyllenhaal and director Mike Newell. Newell was behind not only the crowd-pleasing comedy Four Weddings and a Funeral but also small artful films like Dance with a Stranger, Soursweet, and Donnie Brasco, but here he goes for the gusto and the big-budget guns, on a Jerry Bruckheimer, senses-blazing blockbuster. Just add popcorn and some extra cash for buying the video game on the way home.

For showtimes, check the Independent's movie listings, here.

(movie blurb for film reviews)

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

Be succinct, constructive, and relevant to the story. Leaving a comment means you agree to our Discussion Guidelines. We like civilized discourse. We don't like spam, lying, profanity, harassment or personal attacks.

comments powered by Disqus
event calendar sponsored by:

Direct Relief Steps into Fire Effort

Highway 101 to the south opens; death toll at Camp Fire rises.

New Insights on Butterfly Migration Revealed

Monarch migrating from Oregon to Santa Barbara found to be breeding out of season, a first in ...

Water Managers, County Wrangle Over Lake Cachuma Supply

In some ways, the South Coast is in a worse drought fix than in 2014.

Brooks Is Back

UCSB PaCE to offer two Brooks courses this winter.

Heroin Bust in Santa Barbara

Three men were detained at three locations, one arrested.