This, the most artistically successful video game-to-screen translation yet (which isn’t saying much), could have used more of its own magical Sands of Time, which endow the possessor with time-rewinding, mistake-correcting powers. A pinch to add chemistry between leads Jake Gyllenhaal and Gemma Arterton; a dash to delete portentous dialogue.
Although nameless in the game, the prince in Mike Newell’s adaptation is dubbed “Dastan” (“Hero” in Persian); he’s an acrobatic loner thrust into the arms of a princess (Arterton). True, the Swedish/Jewish Gyllenhaal would never pass for Iranian.
But then this Persia is a fantasy version — though the film does work in some real-world WMD references and casts Alfred Molina as a proto–Tea Bagger. The latter is an especially nice touch, since the actor appeared in the prologue of Raiders of the Lost Ark, 10 minutes of movie history that inspired the original game.