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Set in the mystical lands of Persia, a rogue prince and a mysterious princess race against dark forces to safeguard an ancient dagger capable of releasing the Sands of Time -- a gift from the gods that can reverse time and allow its possessor to rule the world. Written by
Walt Disney Pictures
'Alamut' area is in a mountain area and not desert as in film. See more »
Long ago in a land far away, there once rose an empire that stretched from the steppes of China to the shores of the Mediterranean. That empire was Persia. Fierce in battle, wise in victory. Where the Persian sword went, order followed. The Persian king, Sharaman, ruled with his brother, Nizam, upon the principles of loyalty and brotherhood.
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Bruckheimer and CGI Effects Dominate a Paper-Thin, Fleet-Footed Video Game-Derived Epic
The sight of Jake Gyllenhaal in a defiantly heroic pose with his imposing dagger on the poster of this 2010 fantasy adventure would seem to portend a film filled with self-parody, but alas, the actor takes the Aladdin-like title role semi-seriously. He's actually better than expected in the over-the-top derring-do role, but the movie itself is absurdly convoluted and overly ridiculous, even by the standards of the 2003 video game which inspired this CGI-saturated production. It should come as no surprise that the executive producer is action-schlock master Jerry Bruckheimer, whose commercial track record extends from "Beverly Hills Cop" to the "National Treasure" franchise. What did surprise me is that the director is Mike Newell, better known for soft, female-oriented fare such as "Enchanted April" and "Four Weddings and a Funeral". However, both he and Gyllenhaal give themselves almost entirely to Bruckheimer's more commercial, comic-book sensibilities.
The fanciful plot takes place in the sixth century B.C. where we find a Persian street urchin named Dastan being adopted by King Sharaman for his courageous acrobatics in a crowded marketplace. He grows up with his loyal foster brothers Garsiv and Tus, the rightful heirs to the throne who lead the Persian army in an attack on the sacred city of Alamut. In a none-too-subtle allusion to current-day Iraq, the siege on Alamut comes from a wrongful assumption that the city's people are selling weapons to their enemies. Behind the assault is the King's brother and trusted adviser, the Dick Cheney-like Nizam. Elsewhere in the city, Dashan leads a swashbuckling rogue effort that leads him to the comely Princess Tamina who holds the secret behind the mythical Dagger of Time. The dagger has time-bending powers that allow the user to undo any mistake and redo any moment. In short order, Dashan gets framed for murder and escapes with Tamina and the dagger.
All sorts of contrived shenanigans subsequently follow with the addition of Sheik Amar, an ostrich-racing thief who amusingly hates both taxes and the confining role of government, as the dagger elusively changes hands and a fatalistic sinkhole yields an ending that may remind you of Pam's unexpected discovery of Bobby in the shower on "Dallas". Aside from Gyllenhaal's muscular performance, Gemma Arterton (a memorable bit as Strawberry Fields in "Quantum of Solace") makes a fetching princess with plenty of predictable moxy. As Nizam, Ben Kingsley is not nearly as embarrassing here as he was in "The Love Guru", but his Oscar will continue collecting dust by itself with his string of disappointing movie choices. The ethnically versatile Alfred Molina steals the film in an act of petty larceny as the comical sheik. With so many special effects coming at the viewer uninterrupted, it was extremely difficult to find a core of humanity in this whole venture. But that's Bruckheimer's objective after all - to overwhelm your senses until you turn into the exact same pulp he chooses to present to all the fanboys and fangirls who will flock to this paper-thin extravaganza.
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