Hello, friends in time, and welcome to a regular feature on Cinema 52 where I put my weekly viewing of Back to the Future on hold and watch another movie featuring time travel for comparison. It may not keep me sane, but it will probably always involve one guy shouting, “This doesn’t make any sense!” And that’s good enough for me.

PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME (2010)

prince

Based on a video game that I’ve never played but I assume is about rapidly edited fight scenes shot in close-up, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is the story of Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal), a scoundrel from the streets who is so totally not Aladdin. His bravery earns him the… right to be prince… look, the story is really goddamn forgettable, but there’s a time-traveling knife.

THE STORY:
No, seriously, what the hell happened in this movie? Somebody was avenging something? I’m sure they told me, they just didn’t bother to make me care.

Wait, I vaguely recall something hilariously stupid…

Oh, right, yeah, the king is killed by a poisoned robe. Just look at that bullshit. Man. So I guess people think Dastan did it, so he needs to go find the Cave of MacGuffin and save his adoptive father’s life. But the only thing that matters is the time travel knife.

Hell, Time Knife would have been a snappier title.

It’s filled with magic time sand, and when you press L1… I mean, the jewel on the end of the handle… time rewinds a few seconds and you get a do-over. Dastan spends the entire movie doing this, like, never. Seriously. It’s fucking annoying. They jammed into the script the fact that magic time sand is super-rare and they can only use the knife until it runs out, but come on, this isn’t the shark from Jaws. It’s your one gimmick. Show. That. Shit.

“Welp, I’ve been captured. Great sneak attack, fellas. Guess I’m completely boned.”

That’s the time knife right there on his belt. Don’t give me any shit about, “If he reaches for it, they’ll stab him.” It’s time travel. They can run him right the fuck through… ten seconds prior to this, his gut is entirely unstabbed and he can make a break for it. But no, he lets his ass get captured, and while being held prisoner, he instead uses the knife to fend off a snake.

THIS WOULDN’T HAVE EVEN HAPPENED IF YOU RAN AWAY EARLIER.

Anyway, yeah, they run around doing Persian stuff for an hour, then credits. *fart noise*

THE ACTING:
Everybody in the movie is just cashing a paycheck, but some have more fun than others. Since Gyllenhaal is the lead, he’s obligated to take his role slightly more seriously.

Alright, Jake, let’s see your “inner turmoil” face… oh, you’re already doing it?

Any movie that puts Gemma Arterton in a corset is doing something right. Too bad it’s the only thing.

Pretty much the only reason I saw Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.

Ben Kingsley… wait for it… is the bad guy! And he phones it in!

Pretty much the only reason I saw BloodRayne.

Alfred Molina plays an ostrich race… setter-upper… guy. Whatever, he’s having the most fun. He shouts a lot. He pets ostriches. Fun!

On-set romances never last.

Thankfully, all these actors look Iranian.

THE SPECIAL EFFECTS:
Believe it or not, they do a good job of showing exactly how the knife works. The first time Dastan activates it, he freezes in place and watches the events around him flow backwards, at which point he is transported to where his body was. It’s an impressive way to get the mechanics across visually without clunky expository dialogue. Unfortunately, the effects look like a back alley Pixar abortion.

The resemblance is uncanny.

OTHER (SPOILERY) STUFF:

  • The means of time travel in this film doubles as a weapon, just like the plutonium in Back to the Future can also be used for bombs! I’m sorry, I’m trying to make this interesting.

THE “NONE OF THIS MAKES ANY SENSE!” MOMENT:
True to form, the worse the movie, the less the characters talk about the time travel, so this shit automatically makes sense to everybody. But hey, here’s Alfred Molina being Alfred Molina.

“BEHOLD THE MIGHTY OSTRICH!

FINAL THOUGHTS:
Riffraff. Street rat. Please don’t buy this.

LATER THIS WEEK:
Source Code (2011)

Want more time travel? Head on over to the Time Out archive.