Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 2, 2010 by  

All-out action that is faithful to the video game franchise, “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” looks and sounds magnificent on Blu-ray but if you are expecting a deep storyline, you’re not going to find it in this film.  If anything, “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” is very good if you want a straight-up, popcorn action flick!

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TITLE: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (Blu-ray+DVD+Digital Copy)


DURATION: 116 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD MA (48 kHz/24-bit), English 2.0 DVS, French 5.1 DTS, French, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, Subtitles: English SDH, French,  and Spanish

COMPANY: Jerry Bruckheimer Films/Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13 (For Intense Sequences of Violence and Action)

RELEASE DATE: September 14, 2010

Directed by Mike Newell

Screenplay by Boaz Yakin, Doug Miro, Carlo Bernard

Screen Story and video game series by Jordan Mechner

Executive Producer: John August, Patrick McCormick, Eric McLeod, Jordan Mechner, Chad Oman, Mike Stenson

Producer: Jerry Bruckheimer

Music by Harry Gregson-Williams

Cinematography by John Seale

Edited by Mick Audsley, Michael Kahn, Martin Walsh

Casting by Susie Figgis

Production Design by Wolf Kroeger

Set Decoration by Eli Griff

Costume Design by Penny Rose


Jake Gyllenhaal as Dastan

Gemma Arterton as Tamina

Ben Kingsley as Nizam

Alfred Molina as Sheik Amar

Steve Toussaint as Seso

Toby Kebbell as Garsiv

Richard Coyle as Tus

Ronald Pickup as King Sharaman

Reece Ritchie as Bis

In the spirit of the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, Walt Disney Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer Films transport you to the mystical lands of Persia for this wildly entertaining, epic action-adventure. It‘s a race against time when a rogue prince (Jake Gyllenhaal) reluctantly teams up with a rival princess (Gemma Arterton) to safeguard a magical dagger that gives its possessor the power to reverse time and rule the world. Filled with death-defying escapes and unexpected twists at every turn – Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is a fun-filled adventure that will keep your pulse pounding long after the credits end.

For many of us who grew up playing video games on a PC, one game that captured our attention (no, not Lode Runner) was a game called “Prince of Persia” created by Jordan Mechner.

Since 1989, we have seen the game evolve to the action, graphically impressive video game on the current gen video game consoles and continues to be a popular video game franchise.  And in 2010, Walt Disney Pictures, courtesy of producer Jerry Bruckheimer (“Pirates of the Caribbean” films, “Black Hawk Down”, “Bad Boys” films, “National Treasure” films, “Armageddon”) and director Mike Newell (“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”, “Donnie Brasco”, “Four Weddings and a Funeral”) along with screenwriters Boaz Yakin, Doug Miro and Carlo Bernard went to work on the film adaptation, cinematographer John Seale (“Poseidon”, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”, “The Perfect Storm”, “The Talented Mr. Ripley) and Harry Gregson-Williams (“Shrek Forever After”, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”, “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3”) composing the music for the film.

If anything, the filmmakers odds were against them as video game to film have not really had much success.  And for “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time”, the film received mixed  reviews from the critics but at the same time, this CG-driven film budgeted around $150-200 million made around $329 million in the worldwide box office and is expected to make more in home video sales.

“Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” is a story about a young man named Dastan (played by Jake Gyllenhaal, “The Day After Tomorrow”, “Jughead”, “Zodiac”, “Donnie Darko”) .  He was once a homeless child with great skills at evading people using his athletic ability and was chosen by King Sharaman (played by  Ronald Pickup) for his ability and was adopted into the family.

Fast forward many years later and the Persian empire led by Dastan’s step-brothers Tus (played by Richard Coyle, “The Whistleblowers”, “Coupling”) and Garsiv (played by Toby Kebbell, “The Street”, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”) and their uncle Nizam (played by Ben Kingsley, “Ghandi”, “House of Sand and Fog”, “Schindler’s List”) are about to attack the sacred city of Alamut (without the king’s permission) after receiving intel that the people of the city were selling weapons to the enemies of the Persian Empire.

As the Persian Empire attacks the city of Alamut, the princess of the city, Tamina (played by Gemma Arterton, “St. Trinian’s” films, “Quantum of Solace”, “Clash of the Titans”) quickly instructs her guards to take the dagger to a shrine for safety.  But during the melee and attack on the city, Dastan defeats the man and takes the dagger for his possession.

Meanwhile, the Persian Empire has won the battle and Princess Tamina is to be made a bride to one of the brothers.  Despite the king being upset about his son’s invading a sacred city, Tus gives Dastan a robe to give to their father.  But in the process, the robe was poisoned and the king is killed.  Because Dastan gave him the robe, he is blamed for killing the king and both Dastan and the princess escape Persia.

While the two are retreating, Princess Tamina will do all it takes to get the dagger back from Dastand, even if she has to murder him.  But when Dastan press a button on the dagger, a sand is released and he realizes it gives him a chance to reverse time for a minute.  We learn that Princess Tamina is a protector of the dagger and that there is a special sand that along with the dagger, can reverse time and Dastan now believes he was framed because of the dagger and the things an empire can do with such power.

Dastan wants to prove that he didn’t kill his father but with his own people including his brothers wanting him dead, Dastan with the help of Princess Tamina will need to protect the dagger and prevent it in getting into the hands of evil.


“Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” looks absolutely fantastic.  Presented in 1080p (2:40:1), the film looks absolutely stunning.  You can see the detail on the surface of the clothing, the wood, the stubble on Gylenhaal’s chin, skin pigmentation and more.  Colors are absolutely vibrant with orange, amber hues that are seen in the film and the wonderful CG work when Dastan uses his dagger.  Blacks are nice and deep, detail is just magnificent.  There are scenes that uses a weak light source, ala candlelight so there is some black crush present as detail are not as pronounced on scenes with very dark shadows but by no means does this hurt the picture quality of the entire film.

I didn’t notice any artifacting, banding, combing, aliasing, anything negative.  If anything, this is one of the best PQ live-action films to come from Disney.  Very impressive!

As for the accompanying DVD, the film is presented in 480i (Widescreen 2:40:1 – Enhanced for 16×9 televisions).


“Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (48 kHz/24-bit).  The lossless audio of this film is absolutely fantastic.  The dialogue and music is crisp and clear and what is more impressive is the use of sound.  From the arrows zipping and panning from right to left and a scene where a man is using a steel whip against Dastan and you hear that whip swirling all over the soundscape.  Fantastic use of immersive sound.  And because of the many action scenes, great use of LFE for the bigger sounds throughout the film.   Also, included is an English 2.0 DVS, French 5.1 DTS and French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack.  Fans of the film will enjoy this lossless soundtrack!

As for the accompanying DVD, the DVD comes with an English, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack and an English 2.0 DVS.

Subtitles are presented in English SDH, French and Spanish.


“Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” comes with the following special features (in 1080p HD and in English 5.1 Dolby Digital):

  • An Unseen World: Making Prince of Persia – (15:52) NOTE: This is stand-alone on the accompanying DVD  or the BD single release.  The special feature  takes a look behind the scenes on the set of the film.
  • Deleted Scene – (1:28) A deleted scene from the film titled “The Banquet: Garsiv Presents Heads”.
  • CineExplore: The Sands of Time – (116 minutes) While watching the film, you will see a dagger which you can click with your remote to unlock secrets behind your favorite scenes! Turn back time and uncover over 40 spellbinding segments – including ―Walking Up Walls, ―Filming in Morocco, and ―Ostrich Jockey Tryouts, with this exclusive interactive feature.


This version of “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” comes with a slipcase cover and also comes with a DVD of the feature film and a digital copy of the feature film.

“Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” had an uphill battle of trying to prove that a video game to film adaptation can be successful and in the end, the film did make a ton of money in the box office.  So, I think that given the success of the film, we will more than likely see a “Prince of Persia” sequel.

In some ways, having played and still purchasing many incarnations of the video game, it was one thing to expect the main character to jump on walls and buildings.  I wasn’t expecting a labyrinth or floors breaking apart and our hero would fall to his death like the video game but I was expecting a more meatier adventure-based story between Dastan and the princess.  In some way, almost an exciting adventure story similar to an earlier “Indiana Jones” style of film.  To get away from the typical video game film mindset of popcorn action flick but a film with more substance than glitz and beauty.

Afterall, you have a talented director, cinematographer and composer, you expect an action-driven film but a good story.  But in many ways, “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” follows the list of debased films in which they look great (and look and sound spectacular on Blu-ray) but if anything, it’s not a film that stands out in your mind, nor do you feel inclined in wanting to watch it again (unless you are a Jake Gyllenhaal or Gemma Arterton die-hard fan).

The performances were fine but Ben Kingsley, I’ve seen him act with a tremendous amount of passion in films before and in “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time”, I felt he was a bit subdued as Nizam.  Gemma Arterton was very good, sexy, beautiful as the Princess Tamina and definitely a major 180 from the character of her “St. Trinity’s” films.  She’s an actress that can take on any kind of character and it shows  And also you have a good number of talents with Alfred Molina, Richard Cole, Ronald Pickup, Toby Kebbell and Steve Toussaint doing a good job as well.

But as for the main actor, Jake Gyllenhaal, there was no doubt we would see the well-known actor taking on an action-based role and showing off his athletic nature (and physique) throughout the film but similar to Ben Kingsley, we have seen these two talents really shine in non-action films, in this case…the character of Dastan had the flair of the action silent star Douglas Fairbanks but at the same time, the storyline of Fairbanks film made you enjoy the film even more, in this case…everything seems like a blur as our protagonist is all over the place.  Yes, it’s true to the video game…jumping, fighting, climbing, etc. but I would have enjoyed more time focused on character development.

“Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” is definitely a Blu-ray that shines in the video and audio category.  The picture quality is fantastic and the lossless audio was very impressive.  Special features were OK, but I prefer to watch special features independently, not selecting them while watching a film.  So, I’m not the biggest fan of Disney’s “CineExplore” but it’s all subjective to the viewer.

For those who do not want the DVD and digital copy but only the Blu-ray, a Blu-ray single disc release of “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” will be sold separately as well.

Overall, “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” does show it’s faithfulness to the video game franchise.  There is plenty of action in this film and for the most part, it is a good popcorn action flick, but for those wanting something deeper, you’re not going to find it in this film.  But if you want a fun, action-driven film, nothing more and nothing less, “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” is definitely for you.

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