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SheWired's Unlikely Movie Reviews: 'The Prince of Persia' -An American in Persia

SheWired's Unlikely Movie Reviews: 'The Prince of Persia' -An American in Persia

Sure, we could review the standard lesbian-themed movies hitting various LGBT film fests around the country this summer -- and we will -- but with so few films that pointedly appeal to women in the world, it's time to find ways to reclaim Hollywood as our own. First up, Rebekah Allen reviews the big-screen Disney version of The Prince of Persia video game. And while Jake Gyllenhaal appeals to even gay ladies, it's Gemma Arterton that makes this blockbuster worth the price of admission.

As soon as I left the midnight showing of Prince of Persia, I immediately wondered how the hell I was ever going to be able to properly review this film. So instead I decided that, in the spirit of the movie, I would not make this review proper. After all, if you're planning on seeing this movie, chances are you're not going for a deeply moving and memorable plot or Oscar-worthy acting. As for me, I went because 'tis the season of summer blockbusters, and I just can't resist the call of 'splosions,' action heroes, and of course, the super-hot female sidekick.

Prince of Persia had promise. A little exposition here: it's based off a videogame -- one of the few I've actually played in my life -- and, from what I discerned, the entire point of the game is to jump from wall to wall with a knife that can turn back time. While this works for a videogame, it's a little more difficult to convert to the screen while keeping the audience's interest. Prince of Persia succeeds mightily at the wall jumping, not so much at the interest. The movie lacks any discernable plot, and the only moment of clarity comes when Jake Gyllenhaal as Prince Dastan practically screams at the audience "THIS IS THE PLOT" during one of the 5,000 desert scenes.

Basically, Prince Dastan was adopted into a royal Perisan family as a boy, and has now grown up to be a mighty warrior. He has just helped conquer a massive city and, in the fray, has taken a magical dagger that can "turn back time." However, after Dastan is blamed for the death of his father, he must run away with the captured princess of the city (Gemma Arterton, reason number one and only to see this movie). For the next hour and a half, Jake and Gemma are chased around the desert by everyone else in the film. Literally. That is all that happens. And while everyone who's chasing them seems to hate them at first, Jake's cutesy charms always win them over in the end. Sound annoying? It is.

While I wish I could say differently, Jake Gyllenhaal was the bane of this film. His huge puppy dog eyes and "aw shucks" smile detracted from the awesome fierceness that the videogame Dastan has. Also, the videogame Dastan is PERSIAN. Maybe it's just me, but in a world where there are billions of people, did they really have to hire an American white boy to play a British Persian?

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The whole time, Jake seems to be in an entirely different movie more along the lines of Dazed and Confused. The moments where he suddenly remembers he's supposed to be an action hero make for some pretty epic battle scenes, but after the 900th one, they get a tad old. I can only watch hand-to-hand combat in a CGI desert for so long. Another issue with Prince of Persia is its constant awareness that is based off a videogame. The action scenes are way too smooth and stylized, as if they are winking at the gamers in the audience and saying, "now doesn't this look familiar?!". Yes, it does, and I don't want to pay money for something I can do in my own living room at home where the concessions are infinitely less expensive.


Now, that's not to say this movie doesn't have one high point that made my viewing experience very worth it. While you may not have heard of Gemma Arterton, if you are a regular moviegoer chances are you've seen her before. She was Bond girl Strawberry Fields in Quantum of Solace and most recently the ever-present immortal IO in Clash of the Titans.

Now, she plays Tamina, a kickass Princess with a tongue as sharp as Dastan's dagger and looks hotter than the Persian sun (cheesy? Yes. But I'm a sucker for a cute girl). Her presence in this film far exceeds many other female sidekicks in this genre (Dear Transformers 2, you should have warned me before cutting Megan Fox's part in half), and thank goodness because Gemma is stunning. She takes what could have been a helpless femme fatale and turns her into a warrior much more fascinating than Jake's doofy Dastan. If only her character hadn't lost her personality and fighting skills halfway through the film. How on earth the makers of this movie thought it was okay to push her character aside to focus on the "plot" is beyond me. Even Ben Kingsley, the Oscar-winner for Ghandi, who's usually promising, seems to be acting simply for the paycheck. It's obvious and disappointing, and now I feel like Ben owes me a full performance.

I do not regret shelling out money to see this film, and the only person I can thank for that is Gemma Arterton. She makes one hell of an action heroine and successfully proves that she doesn't need to be second string to any man. While Prince of Persia does not offer the action experience I was hoping for, Gemma abounds, so rejoice. And when you've finished rejoicing, get on YouTube and look up the trailer for the Disappearance of Alice Creed, a British thriller featuring only three actors - and Gemma' in the title role of Alice. It's currently garnering acclaimed for its twists, turns and acting prowess, so get excited. 

Until then, I will continue to attend all the summer blockbusters this season has to offer with hopeful expectations. Innocent until proven guilty, right? But seriously, if Jonah Hex isn't freaking awesome, I'm going to be one disappointed chick.

Read more of Rebekah's posts.

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