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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

'Persia' falters with romantic endeavors

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Jake Gyllenhaal stars in 'Prince of Persia'.
Oh, Jake Gyllenhaal, why? That will be the revolving thought swirling inside your head as you watch his latest flick, "Prince of Persia," based on the highly popular video game.

But it's not all Jake's fault.

Is it all bad? Most certainly not. The movie has its moments of awesome action and equally good acting, but a romantic union that seems too forced to be natural keeps "Persia" from being all it could be. Romance is nice, but not when it's as silly as this.

Gyllenhaal stars as Dastan, an adoptive prince who must flee everything he knows when his father is poisoned by the very robe his son gives him as a gift. Fingered as the killer, Dastan teams up with a rival princess Tamina, played by the stunning Gemma Arterton, to keep a sacred dagger that has the power to turn back time out of the wrong hands, all the while attempting to put the pieces together to find the real killer.

That sounds simple enough, and when that's all we have to deal with, it is. What muddles the story progression is the fact that we have to sit through too many scenes of the Dastan and Tamina relationship blossoming, and it's at times painful to watch.

Gyllenhaal is surprisingly believable as an action star. He walks the walk and talks the talk and I would love to see him tackle another action role. His transition from action star to charming leading man to dramatic thespian is superb. I know that might sound like a stretch for a video game flick, but the man can act and I'm slowly becoming a big fan.

The film has nice supporting acting efforts from Alfred Molina and Ben Kingsley, but again it's the silly moments and stiff romantic scenes that really bring the film down. "Persia" is like two films in one. One is really, really enjoyable, the other is a Lifetime Movie of the Week. Tough but true.

Even though Disney was able to make an enjoyable film franchise from a theme park ride, it needs to go back to the drawing board, or more accurately, the writing room, to resurrect a series that has serious potential.

Final Cut: "Persia" is an interesting mix. Two-thirds of the film is high action, blockbuster that completely sucks you in. The remaining one-third is poorly executed silly romance that, in this critic's opinion, doesn't really work. In the end you'll have to do the math for yourself.

3.5 out of 5 stars

Prince of Persia

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley, Alfred Molina

Director: Mike Newell

Writer: Doug Miro, Carlos Bernard, Boaz Yakin

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action

Runtime: 1 hr. 55 min.