Complete A-Z list

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time


Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley, Alfred Molina, Ronald Pickup, Richard Coyle, Steve Toussaint, Toby Kebbell

Director: Mike Newell

A good old, fast-paced Arabian nights adventure, complete with dashing heroes, wicked uncles, magic daggers, snakes (lots of these), assassins, harem girls and brightly-coloured turbans.

Gyllenhaal, with an almost perfect if faintly quirky English accent to match the rest of the cast, still seems oddly modern as Dastan, an urchin plucked from the gutters by an observant king (Pickup) to be his adopted son. With his two brothers, a grown-up Dastan leads the king's army on a siege of peace-loving Alamut, who are alleged, falsely, via the king's power-hungry brother (Kingsley) to be making weapons of mass destruction (an Iraq in-joke here?) - and where Princess Tamina (Arterton) is anxious to protect the whereabouts of a dagger that, when filled with a certain sand, can turn back time.

When archers fire arrows at varying heights into the Alamut castle walls, it's clear that director Newell, who made Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, has ambitions to place this above the mere epic, throwing in collapsing caverns as well as ostrich races run by a scoundrelly trader (Molina).

Gyllenhaal and Arterton are OK if unlikely to trouble the Oscar voters, but the film is stolen by Kingsley, wicked as you like as a perfect sneering villain in the Conrad Veidt tradition. Coyle is also good as Dastan's older brother. It may not be as stylish as Robin Hood, but it's a lot more fun.

David Quinlan

UK/USA 2010. UK Distributor: Walt Disney. Technicolor.
116 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 15 May 2010