PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME is a terrific, action-packed, well-plotted, exciting popcorn movie. It may be the best transformation of a very popular video game into a movie. It is also one of the few movies that develops a time travel plot that works.
The movie opens with a young boy, Dastan, rescuing another boy from the Persian army captain in the marketplace in sixth century Persia. Before the captain can kill Dastan, King Sharaman adopts Dastan because the King is so impressed with the boy’s courage and loyalty. Thus, Dastan becomes the third son and a prince of Persia.
Cut to years later, when Dastan and his two brothers, Tus and Garsiv, are leading a Persian army against the peaceful holy city of Alamut. The king’s wily brother, Nizam, says his spy found that Alamut was supplying weapons to Persia’s enemies.
Well fortified, Alamut has never been conquered, but Dastan leads his division of orphans and vandals into the city through a side gate and captures the sacred dagger that can take the bearer back in time to change history and release the legendary Sands of Time.
Inside, Dastan meets the beautiful Tamina, the princess of Alamut and the high priestess charged with protecting the Sands of Time.
When Dastan presents as a victory gift a priestly robe to his father, the King, the robe starts to burn his father to death. He is accused of killing the King and condemned to die, but Dastan and Tamina escape to try to protect the sacred dagger and, eventually, the Sands of Time.
In the midst of their escape, they meet lots of interesting characters, including Sheikh Amar who runs illegal ostrich races, hates taxes, and speaks for the disenfranchised small businessman in very clear, conservative terms. In that, PRINCE OF PERSIA is just as pro-business and anti-government as IRON MAN 2.
PRINCE OF PERSIA constantly keeps viewers on the edge of their seats. The sets are fantastic. The dialogue is witty. The turning points are powerful. The plot development is captivating, in spite of the use of time travel, which often can convolute a movie. That said, Jake Gyllenhaall and Gemma Arterton are more like the boy and girl next door in TRANSFORMERS than a prince and a princess. They are fun to watch and attractive, but do more posing than acting.
Who cares, for this is a superb popcorn movie with a very conservative plotline. Taxes are bad, governments are corrupt, individuals are good, and businessmen are terrific.
There’s also a tremendous moral undertone through every part of the movie. Throughout the movie, loyalty, honor, brotherly love, parental affection, wisdom, kindness, and all the other virtues are not only demonstrated but also discussed. Like GLADIATOR, the pagan gods often sound more like the Christian God, with an acknowledgement of blessings, grace, and divine providence.
In my discussions with Jerry Bruckheimer, he has stressed his affinity for free will in the context of Christian theology. He makes that case again here when Dastan says a couple times he doesn’t believe in destiny but believes that we make our own destiny.
Most of the people who see this movie will not be able to read between the lines and not see the movie’s Christian innuendoes. It is important, however, that parents help their children understand the problems of pagan polytheism while appreciating the very strong moral themes in PRINCE OF PERSIA. So there’s a caution for older children. But, otherwise, PRINCE OF PERSIA is one of the best popcorn movies in the last few years.
Even better, it shows that biblical moral values, which reflect the transcendent moral order established by God, transcend all times, places, cultures, and peoples. As Psalm 119:105 indicates, the Word of God is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. And, when Jesus, the Word of God made flesh, delivers us from our sins, He becomes the True Light that enlightens us (John 1:9). About Jesus Christ, the Messiah, God the Father declares in Isaiah 42:5-7, “I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness. I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.” As our Heavenly Covenant and our Divine Light, Jesus Christ puts God’s law into our minds and writes it on our hearts, through the power of the Holy Spirit (Jeremiah 31:33).
(BBB, C, PaPa, CapCapCap, PPP, VV, A, M) Very strong moral worldview stresses loyalty, honor, brotherly love, doing the right thing, with some Christian, redemptive sacrificial aspects but also including a lot of pagan mythology, pagan talk about gods, a time travel pagan god created device, and priests and priestess characters, plus very conservative, anti-tax, anti big government, pro small business elements; no foul language whatsoever; lots of action violence but very little blood includes sword fights, people killed by arrows and other weapons, hand to hand combat, people fall from great heights, Hassansin warriors use snakes, whips and grenades to attack people; no sex scenes but hugging and kissing; harem girls and other women, including the lead, in peek-a-boo costumes, bare midriffs, and quick shots of female cleavage; drinking wine; no smoking and villains use drugs; and, wagering, betting, fortune hunting, and the typical Jerry Bruckheimer debate between destiny and free will.
Set in ancient times, PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME opens with a young boy, Dastan, impressing the king, who adopts Dastan as his third son. Dastan grows up to be a leader in the Persian army. He leads a division into the city of Alamut, where he captures a sacred dagger that can release the Sands of Time. Dastan’s evil uncle wants to take the dagger and change history so that he becomes king instead of Dastan’s adoptive father. With help from the beautiful queen high priestess and an anti-government sheikh, Dastan must protect the sacred dagger.
PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME is a terrific, action-packed, exciting popcorn movie. It may be the best transformation of a popular video game into a movie. It is also one of the few movies with a time travel plot that works. PRINCE OF PERSIA has a very strong moral worldview stressing loyalty, brotherly love, doing the right thing, and free market values. There is plenty of action violence and some references to pagan gods, so caution is warranted for older children. Otherwise, however, PRINCE OF PERSIA is a rousing, positive entertainment.