[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=4651&w=o[/img]Title: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley, Alfred Molina, Steve Toussaint
Directed by: Mike Newell
Written by: Boaz Yakin, Doug Miro, Carlo Bernard, Jordan Mechner
Runtime: 116 min
Release Date: 9/14/2010 (Blu-Ray)
Synopsis: ( 4 out of 5)
Video: (4.5 out of 5)
Audio: (4.5 out of 5)
Extras: (4.5 out of 5)
Overall: (4.5 out of 5)
In ancient Persia, philosopher kings preside over an age of peace. As the Persian empire spreads, peace and prosperity spread with it, and in the heart of this empire an orphan is about to become a prince. Young Dastan is an orphan, living in the streets of the Persian capital as a street urchin. When one of Dastan's friends is accosted by guards Dastan stands up for him and through his courage impresses the King who sits nearby on horseback observing the spectacle. The King adopts Dastan into his own family, making Dastan a prince of Persia. Fifteen years later Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a grown man and accompanies his brothers (biological children of the King) Garsiv and Tus on a campaign along with the King's brother Nizam (Ben Kingsley), Dastan's adopted uncle. In the course of their campaign the Persian armies receive intelligence from a spy that the holy city of Alamut has been selling weapons to enemies of Persia. As the oldest brother, Tus decides to attack Alamut based upon this information and his uncle's recommendation. As Garsiv leads the assault Dastan and his companions attack the eastern gate covertly, scaling the walls and attacking the guard posts. Dastan manages to open the eastern gate and hold the Alamutian reinforcements at bay long enough to let the Persians pour into the city.
The city of Alamut's ruler, Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton) watches the battle unfolding from the temple at the pinnacle of the city. As she sees the tide turning against her forces she entrusts Alamut's greatest treasure (and secret), the Dagger of Time, to a royal guard. As the guard attempts to flee Alamut he enters battle with Dastan, who is able to defeat the Alamutian and retrieves the dagger. Dastan places the dagger at his waist, unaware that the dagger bestows upon its holder the ability to go back in time provided that crystals of the sands of time are in the hilt. As the battle for Alamut draws to a close the Persians enter Princess Tamina's chamber, capturing her and taking her to Prince Tus as a potential wife, thereby sealing an alliance between the two cities and ceding Alamut to the Persian Empire.
As the Persians celebrate their victory the King arrives, and attends a celebratory feast being held. At the feast Dastan is expected to present a gift to his father but has nothing in his possession to give. His brother Tus hands Dastan an elaborate package containing a prayer robe to gift to his father. Dastan happily gives his father the robe, assuming that the gift is safe. Moments later the robe begins to smoke as the acid infused into the fibers activates. King Sharaman is burned alive by the tainted robe and Dastan is helpless to do anything about it, unaware that eyes are turning upon him as the would-be murderer of the king. Without any other options, Dastan turns to flee, stopping long enough to let Princess Tarmina accompany him. After a harrowing flight from Alamut Dastan and Tamina camp for the night in the desert. Tamina attacks Dastan, wounding him fatally as he draws the Dagger of Time from his sash and accidentally pressing on the hilt. The dagger activates, sending Dastan back in time to the moment before Tamina attacks allowing him to stop her this time. Astonished by what the dagger has just done, Dastan sets in motion his plan to prove his innocence and to convince Princess Tamina that he is not her mortal enemy.
In the course of their travels Dastan and Tamina are captured in the valley of slaves by bandits, among whom is their leader Sheik Amar (Alfred Molina) and his guard Seso (Steve Toussaint) an Ngbaka tribesman known for deadly throwing knife skills. Dastan offers Sheik Amar Tamina as a slave in return for his freedom and almost succeeds until the Sheik notices the dagger. Realizing who Dastan is, the Sheik and his men capture both Dastan and Tamina and plan to take them to Tus to claim their reward. Unfortunately for the bandits, Dastan and Tamina are able to escape and travel to Persia where King Sharaman's funeral is being held. Dastan is able to get near enough to his uncle Nizam to speak with him briefly and as he is about to explain his innocence notices acid burns on his Uncle's hands. Dastan realizes that Nizam is the murderer after all and flees narrowly escaping with his life, discovering afterwards that Tamina has stolen the Dagger of Time and fled.
Nizam, suddenly aware of Dastan's realization attempts to convince Tus and Garsiv to place a bounty on the body of Dastan, removing the need for a trial. Tus refuses to acquiesce and a furious Nizam turns to a group known as the "Hassansins" who served the Persian royalty until they were dissolved by King Sharaman. Nizam has kept the Hassansins intact and hidden for many years so that they might one day serve his purposes. Dastan is able to track down Princess Tarmina and explains to her how the entire plot against Alamut, including his fathers death were the result of Nizam's scheme to obtain the Dagger of Time. Nizam hopes to use the dagger to prevent him from saving Sharaman's life when they were boys, thus becoming king himself. Tarmina reveals to Dastan that she is in fact a guardian of the sands of time, stored beneath the city of Alamut in a massive sand-glass. The Sand-glass holds at bay the sands which would destroy the world as they know it, held at bay because a young girl offered her life to convince the Gods to seal the sands within. Dastan and Tarmina agree to work together to prevent Nizam from accomplishing his goals.
Dastan and Tarmina are recaptured by Sheik Amar and his men but that night as they are camped at an oasis the leader of the Hassansins attacks with enchanted vipers, killing many of Amar's men. Dastan is able to use the dagger to move back in time and stop the attack, killing the snakes single handedly and in the process saving Seso's life. Now indebted to Dastan, Sheik Amar and Seso agree to accompany Dastan and Tarmina to a hidden sanctuary in the mountains bordering India. Tarmina has made up her mind that she will stop Nizam from succeeding by placing the dagger back into the rock it originally came from - in doing so she will give up her own life. At the sanctuary they are attacked by Garsiv and his men, Dastan fights desperately to convince his brother he is innocent, succeeding just as a swarm of Hassansin darts hit Garsiv in the chest. Dastan is able to fight off his attacker but it is too late, the Hassansin leader has stolen the dagger from an unconscious Tarmina.
With the dagger once more in Nizam's hands and his allies dwindling, Dastan must set off for Alamut accompanied only by Sheik Amar, Seso, and Tarmina. Dastan will need to race against time itself if he is to prevent catastrophe.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action. There is no sex or nudity in the film though there is a fair amount of violence - overall this is a fairly family safe film for any kids aged 6 and up provided parents are present.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time arrives on Blu-Ray with an impressive AVC encode averaging 24 megabits/second. The result is a great looking title with excellent resolution of detail and excellent color saturation. Natural grain is present throughout from the Super35 film stock and is untouched by any digital manipulation or grain removal. Desert color tones are strikingly well delineated with inky blacks and great dynamic range in bright scenes. Contrast is well balanced to provide a fair amount of "pop" and three dimensionality to the picture resulting in excellent depth of field and immersion. While the color temperature is at times slightly warmer than expected the look is entirely natural and doesn't give the viewer any sense of artificiality. While some dark scenes (the Hassansin temple for one) demonstrate slightly reduced shadow detail and minimal black crush, by and large dark scenes in the film are perfectly resolved and very little information is missing.
Technically speaking there is little to fault in this wonderful presentation from Disney, no aberrant edge enhancement halos or ringing is present and whether you like the movie or not, you'll probably love the video transfer.
The DTS-HD Master Audio in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is a worthy partner to the superb video presentation with soaring dynamic range, aggressive use of the LFE channel and excellent directionality. The brilliantly designed sound effects are equally impressive at whisper quiet or ear popping levels with excellent definition and striking realism. Harry Gregson-Williams' score provides an excellent pulse to the film, and is integrated perfectly with the remainder of the sound field. The surrounds are used actively in combination with perfect pans lending far more directionality to the audio than I am used to; I often found myself hearing action occurring around and behind me and grinning like an idiot.
Finally, for all you bass heads: prepare to be pleased. From the opening scene of the film your sub(s) will be in for a workout as the LFE lays the groundwork for every major event in the film. Substantial 30-75Hz content is present throughout the film, occasionally dipping lower in intense segments and never losing the same raw, powerful field of sound that the entire audio mix conveys.
CineExplore: The Sands of Time (116 minutes): Approximately forty production featurettes that can be accessed by pressing enter whenever an on-screen icon appears. While there are close to two hours of content none of it can be played without the annoying sub-menu (that's right, no Play All) and this takes what could be the best extra I've seen to date and reduces the effect.[HD]
Deleted Scene (2 minutes): A single deleted scene. [HD]
Sneak Peeks (15 minutes): The Sorcerer's Apprentice, A Christmas Carol, Fantasia and Fantasia 2000, The Lion King, Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2, Tron Legacy and Toy Story 3. [HD]
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is probably the best game to big screen adaptation I've seen. The story is far less trite than most game to film adaptations and kept me interested throughout. Despite having played the Prince of Persia games when I was younger I didn't find the film to have taken too many liberties. The aural and visual aspects of the film speak for themselves as both approach or reach demo quality and this along with a story that is family safe is a really refreshing film to review. Both casual movie watchers and enthusiast home theater buffs will find the movie enjoyable. While some readers may not find they are particularly enthralled by the story, in my opinion the film does a great job of living up to its potential. Jake Gyllenhaal is a surprisingly convincing Prince alongside Gemma Arterton as Princess Tamina.
Overall this is a superb release with excellent video quality, superb audio quality, and a great collection of extras that are entirely in HD. Disney has begun to lead the pack in terms of their releases, offering a level of quality and content that no one else is matching at this time. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is a pulse quickening thrill ride that is a pleasure to watch, a pleasure to listen to, and has certainly been a pleasure to review. Highly recommended.