The history of computer games to movies so far has been less than great!  When I worked at the cinema during the 90’s I unfortunately got to see adaptions like Streetfighter and Super Mario Bros. more than once and they are burned into my brain forever. Lately there have been a few attempts that haven’t been too bad though not great, such as Resident Evil, Hitman and Max Payne. Things looked like they were about to finally get better when it was announced that Peter Jackson and a first time director called Peter Blomkamp where going to bring Halo to the big screen and some test footage looked promising, but alas the studios got cold feet and pulled the film. It would be a sad thing if not for the fact that the pair then went off and made District 9 one of my favourite films of last year!  So now we have the latest attempt to take the fun of gaming and transplant it to the big screen. The pedigree associated with it gave hope to the fans with uber-producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Mike Newell this was certainly gonna have potential, but did it work?

  The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Dastan, a strret kid who after a show of gymnastic skills is adopted by the king and becomes part of the royal family alongside the kings’  other two sons.  Soon he and his brothers are taking on a city ruled by Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton) who have allegedly been selling weapons to their enemies.  Obviously things don’t go well and after Dastan is framed for the murder of his father he goes on the run with Tamina with a mystical dagger tucked in his belt. This dagger is no ordinary weapon though, by pressing a button on the hilt it allows the holder to rewind time.  Soon it becomes clear that this was what they were looking for in the city and certain forces want to get control of it’s powers for less than good intentions.  So Dastan and Tamina head off across the desert to keep the dagger safe bumping into a few characters along the way such as Alfred Molinas’  bandit with love of Ostrich racing!  Before we get the obligatory big finale.

  With the Bruckheimer name attached this film will draw comparisons with the Pirates films but on sand not the sea. The films does have that gloss but for once not the coloured lense effect. The film is a bit clunky, and doesn’t flow along smoothly, but is good fun. There are enough action sequences to keep you interested, and the sands of time effect is nicely done. Obviously it is based on a game so they have brought in elements of the gameplay for the fans to enjoy mostly with the Parkour as Dastan jumps from building to building .  In the lead Gyllenhaal does a pretty good job with a character who is a bit one dimensional, not sure about the english accent but at least he hasn’t gone for the easy option and doen it as an american. He has also put the work in on the physicality of the character buffing up big time, this certainly isn’t Donnie Darko in sandals.  As the ‘love interest’ Gemma Arterton provides a good foil to Dastans prince.  She’s got the attitude and skills that a lot of female heroines seem to have these days and the chemistry between her and Jake is pretty good, but not what I hoped. I think they needed more comedic banter. There have been many films where the male and female leads just click perfectly and are really enjoyable to watch as they bounce of each other.  SIR Ben Kingsley does his usual actorly performance as the kings brother. Alfred Molina’s Bandit is one of the highlights of the film in the brief appearances we see of him.  One distraction for me was Richard Coyle as the oldest brother Tus, who to me will always be Jeff in Coupling, so seeing him as royalty was funny!

  Overall it’s a good fun film, but is lacking that something special, unfortuately this could be the ongoing problem for Games-to-films adaptions because controlling a character in a game is different to watching one on a screen!

Rating 6/10

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