This week's must-see DVD/BD, and why we're lovin' it.
What? Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Who? Directed by Mike Newell and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Ben Kingsley, Gemma Arterton and Alfred Molina
Why? This expensive sand-and-sorcery summer blockbuster backed by Pirates of the Caribbean producer Jerry Bruckheimer connected more with theater audiences overseas than domestically, but that might change with its release on DVD and Blu-ray. Jake Gyllenhaal—who has gone to the gym once or twice since Donnie Darko—plays the titular rogue prince named Dastan who is framed for his father's murder by his uncle, the power-hungry Nizam (Ben Kingsley). Dastan goes on the lam all over Persia with the gorgeous Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton). The princess is the sworn protector of the Dagger of Time, a mystical device that can turn back time so that the person in possession of the dagger is the only one who is aware of the time travel and can change the course of events. Dastan figures out that his uncle wants the dagger to usurp the throne from the king, so prince and princess embark on a dangerous journey to return the dagger to its secret resting place and convince Dastan's brothers that Dastan didn't commit patricide.
Gyllenhaal looks the part of a summer adventure-film hero even if he seems a little less than comfortable being the center of the action. Lucky for him there is Arterton, who proves here and in Clash of the Titans
that she is capable of adding a little feminine mystique to a testosterone flick. She and Alfred Molina, who plays an ostrich-race organizer, seem to be the two having the most fun with their roles in this dusty adventure with plenty of bloodless PG-13 action and some trippy time-reversal CG effects. If the filmmakers wanted to make the movie as lean as their leading man, they should have used the dagger to turn back time in the editing room and trim some fat off the 116-minute runtime. At home, consider your player's remote control to be your own Dagger of Time and use it to zip past the parts that unfold at a camel's pace.
What Else? Both the individual DVD and the DVD included in the three-disc Blu-ray combo pack contain the featurette "An Unseen World: Making Prince of Persia." The Blu-ray adds one deleted scene that was too macabre for the theatrical release. You'll want to check out: The clever "CineExplore: The Sands of Time" interactive feature on the Blu-ray that turns back time while the feature is playing so viewers can explore 40 making-of segments.