Yet the end result, full of epic spectacle and fabulous stunt work, demonstrates that all that glitters is not gold. The storyline and characterisation is far too uninvolving and the tale tediously trudges around in circles with occasional pauses for another repetitive set piece or chase sequence. It all bears the feel of watching someone else playing a computer game, where you're initially itching to get at the controls yourself before lapsing into abject boredom and yearning for a power cut.
Set in the mystical lands of Persia, the plot features a beefed up Jake Gyllenhaal as rogue prince Dastan - who finds himself falsely accused of murdering the King (and also adoptive father). He becomes a fugitive and teams up with similarly beleaguered princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton) to safeguard an ancient dagger capable of changing time. Plenty of forced squabbling and hugely unsubtle flirtatious glances occur between the pair, with the movie stopping just short of plastering the caption 'THEY'RE GOING TO GET IT ON IN THE LAST REEL FOLKS SO DON'T FALL ASLEEP!' across the bottom of the screen like one of those tickers on digital news channels.
In between jumping around to evade various foes in a manner that befits the character's platform game origins, Dastan conducts a mission to uncover the true killer of the King. This plot strand is so laborious that it makes an episode of Midsomer Murders feel like an amusing video by The Prodigy in comparison. Among the suspects are Dastan's brother Tus (Richard Coyle) and uncle Nizam (Sir Ben Kingsley), with the British thespians deploying plenty of sneering in their underwritten, one-dimensional roles. Given Coyle's legendary role as Jeff from Coupling, one half expects him to launch into a monologue about the beauty of breasts and perils of 'the melty man'.
Fortunately, Alfred Molina and a bunch of ostriches are on hand to liven up proceedings. As Sheikh Amar, the tax dodging trader obsessed with the birds (who somehow resist burying their heads out of embarrassment), Molina provides the entirety of the movie's laughs and a refreshing contrast to the somewhat bland - if earnestly portrayed - lead couple of Dastan and Tamina. In some ways, the role highlights why Prince Of Persia fails to excite and titillate in the same manner as Pirates Of The Caribbean. Just imagine how dull that franchise would have felt with Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom taking centre stage while Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow was little more than a cameo.
Jake Gyllenhaal and Gemma Arterton are blameless though, for they plunge themselves into the action with gusto and are hardly to blame for the clunky, expositionary dialogue (mind you, the script must have felt like the work of Shakespeare to Arterton compared to Clash Of The Titans). The bickering between the pair is as irritating as that between Time Lord and companion in mid '80s Doctor Who, but admittedly the talented duo manage to build up enough pathos for their characters to ensure that we care for their fates. This certainly maximises the effect of the movie's explosive climax, which is full of dazzling visuals and highlights how uninspired the previous set pieces were.
A nice twist rounds off the movie, but it's far too late for redemption. Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time certainly looks fabulous, with the camerawork swooping across the beautiful CGI-enhanced terrain to glorious effect. But despite the efforts of the cast, the lack of creative storytelling flair scuppers the sense of adventure and fun one would expect from a Jerry Bruckheimer summer blockbuster. Still, no doubt plans are afoot to adapt Tetris for the cinemas...
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