Who's In It: Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley, Alfred Molina, Steve Toussaint, Toby Kebbell, Richard Coyle, Ronald Pickup, Reece Ritchie
The Basics:I would like to tell you the detailed plot of this movie but I've forgotten what it is. I remember that Jake is adopted by a king and the king's brother is bad and Jake and his boys invade a sovereign land under false pretenses but they didn't know it was all lies so you can't blame them for doing it. Then there's a sassy princess who loves Jake but is being headstrong about it until the last part when they make out as the sands of time swirl all around them. There's also a dagger that operates with magic sand and you can turn back the clock with it. Everybody wants that dagger but Jake's going to keep it tucked right into his belt at crotch level so the princess can stare at it for the whole movie.
What's The Deal: The reason I forgot most of what happens in this film isn't because it's too dumb to remember. I like dumb movies. I soak in them like a hot bath. But when you're going out of your way to make a dumb movie then you'd better be extra fun, extra bold, extra exciting and extra rule-busting with your dumbness. You want to make people remember how uniquely, entertainingly dumb you were. And if you can't do that, or if you're too lazy to do that, then you're going to attract one-time filmgoers looking for air conditioning instead of repeat customers who take the movie to their heart, identify with that special brand of dumbness and then clamor for an even dumber sequel.
Featuring A Cast Of Extremely Talented Persian Actors: And when I say that, what I mean is that the films of acclaimed director Abbas Kiarostami regularly feature talented Persians. This movie stars exactly one paleface American and several paler-faced Brits in almost all the supporting roles. The bronzer budget must have been a major line item. As idiot moves go it's not quite in the league of Mickey Rooney playing Japanese in Breakfast at Tiffanys, but it's the 2010 equivalent.
Equally Unforgivable: I was promised parkour, the insane acrobatic jumping-around battle move that made District B13 and a variety of soft drink commercials so darn entertaining. In fact, all I heard as the buzz for this movie built up was that Mr. G was doing lots of the stunts and it was going to be so exciting to watch all that jumping around. But mostly what happens is the camera comes in close on his furry man-teats and lingers there for a bit. Then, when it's time for action, they haphazardly slow it down and speed it up Matrix-style and not one single stunt gets a beginning, middle and end without at least three edits tossed in to diminish whatever physical thrill the shot was going for in the first place. You never know what's being done, by whom or how digitized it is. That ain't parkour and if I had paid to see this I'd have asked for my money back.