Trailer Tuesday - Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
If the buzz is to be believed, then Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time may be the first video game adaptation to elevate the genre to some kind of respectability in Hollywood. As it currently stands, films based on video games tend to be B-grade affairs, starring unknowns or B-graders, directed by untested filmmakers who have graduated from the school of slick, sexy music video production, and ultimately the completed products often veer far from their source material.
Granted video game adaptations can make a lot of money at the box office, but they're typically reviled by critics and shredded by dissatisfied fans of the original games. Let's also not forget that the filmmaker who has made it his personal mission to make as many atrocious video game movies as possible is 21st Century Ed Wood, Uwe Boll. Yes, this is why video game movies are stigmatised.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is apparently an attempt to change all that. The film can be distinguished from the usual game-to-film mediocrity by the pedigree of those involved. First of all, POP is intended to be a hit fantasy action-adventure series to replace the massively successful Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, and as such comes from the forces behind Pirates: Disney and uber-producer Jerry Bruckheimer.
POP is directed by Four Weddings & a Funeral, and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire's Mike Newell, who certainly knows how to mix emotion and action, and the cast includes acclaimed actors Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Alfred Molina and Ben Kingsley. Interestingly, the film has also been co-scripted by Prince of Persia game creator Jordan Mechner. This is unusual because normally game makers have nothing to do with, or are shut out of, the adaptation-for-film process.
Judging by the trailer, while there have obviously been some plot changes, it's remarkable how faithful the film appears to be to the Sands of Time game trilogy in terms of basic story, look and tone. Prince Dastan (Gyllenhaal), a former street urchin adopted by the king, reluctantly join forces with a mysterious princess Tamina (Arterton) to prevent the powerful Dagger of Time - which allows its user to control time - from falling into the hands of power-hungry, destructive nobleman, Nizam (Kingsley).
Curiously, the trailer suggests that, despite being the intended first part of a trilogy, POP features elements from all 3 of the Sands of Times games: The Sands of Time, Warrior Within and especially The Two Thrones.
I can't say I was absolutely floored by the trailer above (I think Arterton's breathy vocals got on my nerves), but I certainly like what I'm seeing so far - even if there was a shortage of acrobatic wall running (a defining characteristic of the games) in the 2 minute, 30 second trailer. Forgetting what the success of POP will mean for future game-to-film adaptations, I have high hopes for this movie seeing as the Prince of Persia games are among my top 10 all-time favourites.
The Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time movie was initially going to be released in mid-2009, but was held back a year so that additional post-production work could be completed, and the film wouldn't be lost in a glut of rushed, Writers' Strike-affected releases. The film is now set to debut on 28 May 2010 in the United States. I expect South Africa will be getting this highly anticipated blockbuster round about the same time.