Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)

Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action.
Length: 116 minutes
Grade: AB-AC=A
Budget: $200 million
Box Office: $337 million (91 U.S., 244 Intl.)

Written by: Boaz Yakin (Dirty Dancing 2, A Price Above Rubies, Fresh, The Rookie, and The Punisher), Doug Miro & Carlo Bernard (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, The Uninvited, The Great Raid) based on the video game by Jordan Mechner.
Directed by: Mike Newell (Love in the Time of Cholera, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Mona Lisa Smile, Pushing Tin, Donnie Brasco, Four Weddings and a Funeral, )
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, and Ben Kingsley
With: Alfred Molina and Richard Coyle

Adopted into the royal family as a boy because of his bravery, Dastan must fight for his life and reputation after being framed for the murder of his adoptive father then King. In the process, he comes into possession of a magical dagger which under the right circumstances can turn back short amounts of time.

Entertainment Value: A
If you told me that a movie based on a video game would be this entertaining, I’d never believe you. None of the others ones have been. But, if you put the money of Disney and the genius of Jerry Bruckheimer behind the project, maybe it makes sense. Sometimes when I watch a movie late at night, I fall asleep or have to quit and finish it another day. I was tired, but I deliberately stayed awake because I wanted to keep watching this. In the end, this reminds me of all the great action swashbuckler type movies Hollywood made in the past from Adventures of Robin Hood to Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Superficial Content: B-
Drugs/Alcohol B+, Sex/Nudity A-, Violence C+, Language A
Some drinking in a few scenes. Some belly dancers in the background in one scene and minor romantic moments. Language is almost church-like. Violence is the main concern, and there is one scene with a man being burned to death (but it’s not as bad as it sounds), some creepy scenes with snakes, and several battle sequences including people being killed, usually without blood, although often with arrows or axes penetrating them. As I mentioned above, it reminded me of all the old action movies. Certainly Raiders of the Lost Ark is more concerning than this movie. This is at the very light end of PG-13. I’d say PG-8. We almost let Spencer watch it at 6.

Significant Content: A
This is where the movie really shines. Unlike so many modern films, the good guys are really good guys. Kings are really virtuous men who advocate things like mercy, standing up for what’s right, and the rule of law. Honor and loyalty are big themes, as is self-sacrifice for a greater good. Greatness is a result of goodness. One repeated message is to listen to wise counselors but to also trust your heart in big decisions. In short, there are heroes here to emulate. Also, there’s one character who is always making side comments about taxes and secret government killers being a bad thing.

Artistic/Thought Value: C
It’s not great art in the “makes you think for days” sense. But if the point of a movie is to give you entertainment and decent role models, this movie certainly outperforms a lot of offerings these days. Also, I loved the idea of a device that grants very limited minor amounts of time travel as a premise.

Discussion Questions:
~Who in this movie reminds you of God? Who in this move reminds you of Satan? Who reminds you of Jesus?
Dastan is adopted into the royal family, and this is always a source of some identity issues for him and others. Given that the idea of Christianity is to be adopted into God’s family, how do you think you might explain Christianity with respect to this movie?
~Dastan gets adopted because he does something noble in standing up to unjust use of authority. Is it Christian to resist abuses of authority? Do people get adopted by God because they have a noble heart already?
~What are some of the principles various characters in this film either live by or advocate?
~How important do you think it is for a culture to give young men images of virtuous heroes to emulate?
~If you could go back in time, what choices or events would you change? Would a power like that be too tempting for people to have? How does the villain in this movie plan to use the power if he gets it? What does that say about good and evil people?
~Would you call this a “conservative” movie?
~Have you ever stood up to do the right thing when it was unpopular or costly to you personally? Have you ever failed to do so? How did each feel?
Overall Grade: A
There’s something both thoroughly modern and yet wonderfully classic about this unexpectedly good film based on a video game series. A genuinely quality film from Disney and Bruckheimer.

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