Perhaps a Brokeback prince...

Right, well, the news broke last week that Jake Gyllenhaal is being courted to star as the Prince (Dastan (?)) in the live-action Prince of Persia: Sands of Time film, based on the critically acclaimed video game.

Granted Gyllenhaal's involvement is still at the rumour stage, but I couldn't be happier about it - as well as the related news that Orlando Bloom has passed on the project. Yes!

Bloom would have been such an uninspired choice for the role. As a hero he really has no personality whatsoever - as the Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean movies have proved. Gyllenhaal, by comparison, often presents a slightly cocky but loveable side in his performances, and that's a vital quality if he's to play the Prince. Plus, he was almost Spider-Man (apparently), so you know he can pull off the Prince's acrobatic, sword-fighting physicality as he strives to undo the chaos caused by the evil, terminally ill Vizier. I really hope his casting happens.

Just to keep you updated in terms of the Prince of Persia film, it's set to begin filming in June or July this year, with a 16 June 2009 release date in mind. It's going to be filmed on location in Morocco and in assorted studios in the UK.

Granted I'm interested in his project because The Prince of Persia trilogy is one of my favourite ever game series, but Sands of Time is actually being watched by film industry types as a major indictor of the future of game-to-film adaptations.

You see, unlike the vast majority of video game movies, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time actually comes with a pretty impressive pedigree. Just as he did with theme park ride Pirates of the Caribbean, producer extraordinaire Jerry Bruckheimer is grooming Prince of Persia as the next "big" action-adventure from Walt Disney Pictures.

Meanwhile, Mike Newell has been recruited for the director's chair, and his filmography includes acclaimed hits Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Donnie Brasco and Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Plus, the original game's creator, Jordan Mechner, is actually on board as the film's initial screenwriter. Here's what Mechner had to say about the film:

"Rather than do a straight beat-for-beat adaptation of the new videogame, we're taking some cool elements from the game and using them to craft a new story -- much as 'Pirates' did with the theme park ride."


Our model is classic epic, swashbuckling action-adventure movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Zorro, and Thief of Baghdad, with humor and romance and full of memorable characters. You can't get there if you turn everybody into sand monsters on page fifteen.

I hope Sands of Time game fans will see the movie with an open mind and judge it based on the experience it creates for them, not by the standard of how closely it matches the 2003 video game. The game still exists and you can still have the experience of playing it. We're not destroying it by making the movie. We're creating something new that has to stand on its own, just as the game did.

You can read more of Mechner's comments here.

Basically I think we're always going to have video game-to-film adaptations. However, if Prince of Persia: Sands of Time is a massive success, critically and commercially, you may find video game movies being treated with the same A-list Hollywood respect that superheroes and graphic novels are currently receiving. If Sands of Time tanks, well, then we may just be set for a future of Z-grade D.O.A and Uwe Bolle "masterpieces." I'm holding thumbs that the latter doesn't happen.


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