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'Prince of Persia' goes for summer crown

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time was supposed to be the definitive video game-to-movie experience. So often the translation has been weak at best (the Lara Croft movies) or lame at worst (Super Mario Brothers).

So, the question is, does Persia live up to the hype? The best answer is - kind of.

The movie follows Prince Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal), a street boy who gets adopted by the king of Persia, and grows into one of the king's best - and certainly most aerobatic - soldiers. When the Persian army sacks an innocent city, Dastan finds himself in possession of a mystical knife that allows the holder to travel through time.

He also finds himself saddled with the knife's protector, Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton), a beauty with more than enough sarcasm and guile to keep Dastan on his toes. Add on the fact that he was framed for the murder of his father, someone in his family is trying to take the throne, and he has a price on his head.

The plot, while entertaining enough, is a little needlessly complex, and could have been streamlined to create a faster-paced film.

The same could be said of the acting, which is decent from everyone involved, but certainly nothing extraordinary. The best performance comes from Alfred Molina (surprise), doing his best Jack Sparrow as a gambler and brigand with a sense of honor.

The real money of the movie is the visual aspect, and in this sense, Persia succeeds beautifully. The scenery is a beaut, even if the holy city looks like a middle eastern version of Minas Tirith from Lord of the Rings. The stuff that fans of the game will be most interested in - namely the acrobatics of Dastan - are brought to the screen with all the panache one could want.

While Prince of Persia is by no means going to rewrite the video game genre, it's a fun enough movie for a summer afternoon. Prince indeed, but not king.

If you liked this, check out the Denver Movie Examiner page for other reviews of current releases!

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