Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Posted on September 15, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Roger Ebert launched a thousand blog posts with howls of protest by asserting that a video game could never be a work of art. I don’t say “never” when it comes to art, but by all evidence to this point, a video game does not make a movie. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who improbably turned a theme park ride into a phenomenally successful movie franchise with the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, has not done as well by the Prince of Persia game, omitting the two elements that made the Pirates movies sensationally entertaining: a very good script and Johnny Depp.

Jake Gyllenhaal, newly bedecked in long hair, buff bod, and English accent, plays Dastan, a former street kid adopted by a king and raised as brother to his two sons. When he is framed for the murder of the king he must run. And since he has taken a special dagger that belongs to a princess, she has to come with him. She is the keeper of a sacred dagger, which gives everyone something to chase after, steal from each other, and almost lose many times.

The movie is about two-thirds action and one-third bickering banter. The action scenes are fairly good; the banter is below the level of chit-chat from Oscar presenters. There are winks at the game, with a lot of leaping between ledges and rooftops and the ability to rewind time. The story also has several distracting winks at current or near-current events, with complaints about taxes and a fruitless search for the ancient equivalent of weapons of mass destruction.

The settings are glorious. As swords are being wielded in a kaleidoscope of quick shots, we keep hoping for more of a chance to enjoy the scope and sweep and sumptuousness of the re-created ancient world of walled cities, palaces, and desert. Instead, it just serves to remind us of how undeserving the story that takes place there is by comparison.

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Action/Adventure Based on a video game Epic/Historical Fantasy

The Most (Unexpectedly) Spiritual Film of the Week

Posted on October 18, 2008 at 7:47 am

This week’s releases include some very spiritual themes. W. shows us the 43rd President’s decision to let his life be guided by God, his lessons from a spiritual advisor, and his participation in Bible study. The Secret Life of Bees portrays three sisters who conduct Christian religious services in their home and call their brand of honey “Black Madonna.” But it just might be the based-on-a-videogame “Max Payne” that has the most spiritual themes of the week. Along with a lot of guns, chases, and explosions, it finds time to consider its title character’s thoughts about angels, Satan, Judgment Day, and the afterlife. Not just grafted on, these themes are central to the character’s decisions and ability to find meaning in life following the murder of his wife and child.

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Based on a video game Commentary Spiritual films Understanding Media and Pop Culture

Pokemon: The First Movie

Posted on December 13, 2002 at 5:16 am

Human scientists have figured out a way to create a bigger and stronger clone of the most powerful Pokemon ever, Mew. The result is a sort of Maxi-Mew called Mewtwo. Mewtwo decides to go after that goal of all movie bad guys worth their salt, total world domination, by capturing and cloning all the Pokemons.

Mewtwo lures the best Pokemon masters to his island for the ultimate battle. He points out – and here I have to side with him – that the Pokemons are slaves to the humans. Then each of the Pokemons has to fight its clone in a sort of existential crisis. This was very appealing to the little boy in front of me, who chanted happily, “Two Pikachus, two Jigglypuff, two Bublasaur…” like a Pokemon Noah. Then it all ends happily – if hypocritically, with everyone in favor of cooperation instead of fighting. (NOTE: The movie is preceded by a strange short movie about a Pokemon trip to an amusement park.)

Anyone who has ever seen the TV series, played the game, or bought the cards knows what to expect here. Every generation of children has some hideously annoying cartoon series to provide parents with much agonizing and many, many buying opportunities. The characters usually undergo some transformation or make use of a secret to attain power. This theme is endlessly interesting to kids who can feel overwhelmed by a world built on a scale that is often too large for them.

Kids, especially those ages 6-10, also love to memorize and sort endless facts, whether about Pokemons, dinosaurs, cars, or Beanie Babies. It gives them a sense of mastery, especially because they can do so much better than adults. And it becomes an important part of their social development, creating a shared language with their friends. This can be particularly meaningful for kids who are insecure about talking to other children.

Still, excruciating as it can be for parents to endure, it may be worthwhile for kids to see the movie. If it makes it any easier, remember that before too long, this will be over and by the time the next one comes along your children will be past that stage.

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Action/Adventure Animation Based on a television show Based on a video game Comic book/Comic Strip/Graphic Novel Fantasy Stories About Kids Superhero
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