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Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy) [Blu-ray] by Directed by Mike Newell
Review by Charles Mohapel
Walt Disney Blu-ray  ISBN/ITEM#: B003UYUR10
Date: 23 September 2010 List Price $44.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

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You don't have to be a fan of "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" and the "Prince of Persia" series of videogames from Ubisoft, but it can't hurt either. Directed by Mike Newell, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is another fantasy film filled with swords, sandals, and sorcery, it offers viewers an adrenaline-infused, action-packed adventure topped off with an extra large serving of comedy.

Directed by Mike Newell

Writing credits (WGA):
Boaz Yakin (screenplay) and
Doug Miro (screenplay) &
Carlo Bernard (screenplay)

Jordan Mechner (screen story)

Jordan Mechner (video game series "Prince of Persia")

Cast (in credits order):
Jake Gyllenhaal ... Dastan
Gemma Arterton ... Tamina
Ben Kingsley ... Nizam
Alfred Molina ... Sheik Amar
Steve Toussaint ... Seso
Toby Kebbell ... Garsiv
Richard Coyle ... Tus
Ronald Pickup ... King Sharaman
Reece Ritchie ... Bis
GÝsli Írn Gar­arsson... Hassansin Leader

Although I am not a video gamer, I am familiar with a number of the titles and the companies that create them. Were I to play a video game, Ubisoft's "Prince of Persia" would be one I'd want to play. That said, you don't have to play or even know "Prince of Persia" to sit down and watch Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. When I saw the frenetically fun trailers for Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and noticed that it was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, I knew that it would be another E ticket ride from Disney.

The great Persian Empire is ruled by the fair and even-handed King Sharaman, duly supported by his brother Prince Nizan. King Sharaman already has two sons, Tus and Garsiv, but is so impressed with the bravery of young Dastan, an orphaned street urchin who protects his best friend Bis against the King's men, that he adopts Dastan into the royal family.

Years later, the Holy City of Alamut ruled by Princess Tamina is under siege by an army led by Princes Tus, Garsiv, Dastan, and their uncle, Prince Nizam. Nizam's spy has intercepted a caravan carrying deadly Alamutian weapons intended for the warlord Koch and the enemies of the Persians in Kochkhan.

Knowing that Garsiv's fondness for frontal attacks will result in major Persian losses when they assault the Main Gate, Dastan leads his force of irregulars into Alamut by the lightly defended Eastern Gate, taking the defenders by surprise, securing the gate, and letting the Persian regulars in. Overwhelming the disorganized and outnumbered defenders, the Persian army swiftly captures the city, Princess Tamina, and the Dagger of Time.

King Sharaman comes to Almut furious at Tus for the invasion of Alamut, after which he arranges the marriage of Dastan to Princess Tamina. When Tus gives Dastan the prayer robe of Alamut's regent, the holiest in the Eastern Lands, he gives it to King Sharaman as his gift, but it is imbued with a particularly nasty caustic poison which kills the king. Dastan is accused of betrayal but he escapes with Princess Tamina and the Dagger of Time.

Soon Dastan accidentally discovers that the dagger is a powerful device to travel back one minute in time and change the events of the last minute.

Upon discovering that Prince Tus is not the traitor, but rather that the ambitious Prince Nizam is the traitor, Dastan teams up with a reluctant Princess Tamina in a quest to stop Nizam's dastardly plot before he unleashes the Sands of Time, thereby destroying the world.

As much as I would have enjoyed CineExplore: The Sands of Time on Disc 1 in order to enjoy the interactivity of more than 40 segments such as "Walking Up Walls", "Filming in Morocco", and "Ostrich Jockey Tryouts", this was impossible for me. It's a crying shame that all this no doubt enjoyable bonus material was encoded so that it requires BONUSVIEW, a feature that my 3 year old Blu-ray player lacks.

The deleted scene from the banquet where Garsiv presents the heads of the 10 leaders of Kochkhan to his father showed Garsiv as being too bloodthirsty and vindictive to be considered heroic and cutting it was a wise decision.

Among the Sneak Peeks on Disc 1, the Disney Blu-ray Combo Packs I'm eager to get my hands on are those for The Sorcerer's Apprentice, the Fantasia / Fantasia 2000, and The Lion King: Diamond Edition. But by far my favorite Sneak Peek is the one for the theatrical release of TRON Legacy on December 17, 2010. Having been dazzled and and amazed by the game changing cutting edge CGI of the original TRON in 1982, I was quite impressed by the looks of the contemporary CGI of the 2 minutes and 21 seconds of the teaser for TRON Legacy. Is it December 17th yet?

I've seen how much fun BD-Live can be on other people's Blu-ray players, but unfortunately my own player lacks this feature and I can't tell you how cool those on the Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Blu-ray.

Watching "An Unseen World: Making Prince of Persia" on Disc 2 with Producer Jerry Bruckheimer et al almost made up for the fact that I was unable to access the BONUSVIEW and BD-Live features. This is an outstanding bonus since not only did you hear the actors and crew discussing a treasure trove of interesting facts and sharing their thoughts on the making of the film as it happened, you also got to see the beautiful locations in Morocco and the sets at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, UK. The production of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time used 9 of the 11 stages of the '007 Stage' (Europe's largest stage) at Pinewood. You got a brief close up view of the exquisite detailing and got a feeling of the pride everyone took in their work right down to the Moroccan artisans.

David Belle who served as the Parkour Coordinator is also the founder of Parkour, an extreme sport previously seen in the 2006 remake of Casino Royale starring Daniel Craig. When I saw the name of Mike Newell listed as director, I remembered he had directed 2005's Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and given the fourth film in the series a harder edge. I also remembered the stunning Gemma Arterton playing a ginger-haired MI6 agent by the name of Strawberry Fields in 2008's Quantum of Solace, as well as with her natural raven tresses as Io in the 2010 remake of Clash of the Titans. It certainly appears that she enjoys the physicality of swords, sandals, and sorcery sagas like Clash of the Titans and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. And it was wonderful seeing English actor Alfred Molina nearly steal the show as the flamboyant and rascally Sheik Amar. This was exactly the sort of of special bonus feature that I and many other people love.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is the kind of action adventure that sells lots of popcorn, both in the theaters beginning on the Memorial Day Weekend and at home to people watching it on their HDTVs hooked up to Blu-ray and DVD players. Treat yourself to a movie that doesn't take itself overly seriously and delivers lots of fun for all ages.

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