Monday, May 31, 2010

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Movie name: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Year of release: 2010
Director: Mike Newell
Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley, Alfred Molina, Steve Toussaint, Toby Kebbell, Richard Coyle, Ronald Pickup, Gísli Örn Garðarsson
Genre: Action, Adventure
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 5

Synopsis:Mike Newell's new film, following the disappointing "Love in the Time of Cholera", takes him back to the domains of the adventure film, something that he explored in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" with great success. "Prince of Persia" is the adaptation of a video game, much like "Super Mario Bros." and "Silent Hill" were. The film follows the story of Dastan a young orphan who gets picked up in the streets by the king, due to his fearless nature and kindness. Dastan grows up to be a valiant soldier, always willing to embark in fearless adventures. When a protected city is invaded and the king murdered, Dastan is blamed for all the misfortune, upon which he must escape, with the princess of the invaded city. He soon finds out that the invasion was all a decoy to obtain a dagger that controls the flow of time. It's up to him and the princess to restore the balance to everything and to prevent their enemies of destroying all that exists.
Mike Newell's film tries to capture the feeling of the old classic adventure films, in the tradition of what Steven Spielberg did with his Indiana Jones films (the first three films that is). The film takes place in an old time, where magical events occur and dashing princes and spunky princesses cross paths and sparks fly. Even the usual comical supporting characters appear, this one embodied by the always excellent Alfred Molina. The main problem with "Prince of Persia" is that even though it's full of good intentions, everything feels done and seen before. There's nothing new in the screenplay - it's a rehash of cliches. The wonderful actors are also wasted, namely the always great Ben Kingsley and Alfred Molina, but also Jake Gyllenhaal, who ends up being more of an acrobat than a proper character. Enjoyable but passable.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Iron Man 2

Movie name: Iron Man 2
Year of release: 2010
Director: Jon Favreau
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Mickey Rourke, Samuel L. Jackson, Clark Gregg, John Slattery, Jon Favreau, Kate Mara, Leslie Bibb, Garry Shandling
Genre: Action, Adventure
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 4

Synopsis:After the huge hit that was "Iron Man", the sequel was inevitable for the Marvel Studios, who have a whole plethora of characters and films planned for release in the next few years. "Iron Man 2" is escalating for the reunion film that will be "The Avengers" (which is mentioned in the film). The film picks up immediately after where the first one left off. Tony Stark has revealed to everyone that he is Iron Man and the threats start looming once again from a variety of different sources. On one hand he has political adversaries who want to seize his armor, he has a Russian physicist (more the likes of a punk rocker) bent on vengeance and a rival arms dealer, all of them trying to control his technology. Thanks to his allies, namely love interest Pepper Pots, his new assistant Natalie, his driver Happy and Nick Fury, Stark manages to navigate through these obstacles and vanquish his foes in the end.
Whereas the first film was an introductory one that showcased the characters and introduced plot lines, Iron Man 2, follows directly to what appears to be a vengeance story. However, there's no solid background to sustain the story and the character's motivations feel underwhelming. Mickey Rourke's character has no depth and falls very short of what Jeff Bridges did in the first film. The only interesting characters to survive this messy screenplay are the underused Scarlett Johansson and Robert Downey Jr. who is the sole reason why the film is watchable. He infuses the character with a spark and life that come from his undeniable charisma. A missed opportunity.