PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME:

I can remember when popular movies actually spawned video game namesakes (e.g. DEATH RACE 2000 in the Ď70s). But with Hollywood now so bereft of creative, original ideas, Iím expecting a film version of someoneís Twitter blog any day. At least this Disney offering is as mindlessly pleasant a diversion as the 2003 Jordan Mechner video game that itís derived from. Even the swashbuckling, parkour-influenced action sequences are so elaborately choreographed and fast-paced that I almost expected to see an ever-increasing point total being tallied on the screen. At first glance, the plot would appear to be fairly straightforward with the title character (Jake Gyllenhaal) and a beautiful princess (Gemma Arterton) trying to keep a dagger that can turn back time out of the wrong hands. However, beneath the subtext of Doug Miro and Boaz Yakinís screenplay is a storyline in which an Iraqi province is attacked because of false information about the existence of weapons which donít exist. Hmmm, I wonder where they could have gotten that? No matter, because the issue isnít belabored to redundancy and the detriment of the movie even though it raises its intelligence level higher that you would normally expect. In terms of production, John Sealeís cinematography conveys the localeís hostility while Wolf Kroegerís interior set designs bring out its elaborate mystical influences. The pace breaks down a little toward the conclusion of the film but itís resuscitated by Harry Gregson-Williamsí musical score. Despite its 21st century gaming origins, PRINCE is a fairly above-average adventure fantasy that Disney has cranked out with regularity since 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA (1954). That was a fun, visually explosive movie and so is this one. CRITICíS GRADE: B-

EXCELLENT MOVIES STARRING THE LATE DENNIS HOPPER (1936-2010): REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (1956), GIANT (1956), GUNFIGHT AT THE O.K. CORRAL (1957), COOL HAND LUKE (1967), TRUE GRIT (1969), EASY RIDER (1969), APOCALYPSE NOW (1979), HOOSIERS (1986)*, BLUE VELVET (1986), TRUE ROMANCE (1993), RED ROCK WEST (1993), SPEED (1994)

*Academy Award nominee for Best Supporting Actor