Good afternoon! Billy Appleton here, and we've reached the fourth weekend of summer! That means we're almost a month through, and nothing has really struck out on it's own as being original or even decent. So far, we've figured out that, while Iron Man 2 didn't quite suck, it still didn't live up to expectations. Which sucks. And Robin Hood kind of sucked. Which, if we're to believe the masses, was expected. Shrek Forever After, which couldn't even figure out what it wanted to be called just moments before its release, was worse than Shrek the Third. And that's saying a lot. Now, we're faced with the prospects of seeing a greased-up Jake Gyllenhaal shimmy through time with the sexy Gemma Arterton in Walt Disney's latest grab at pulling down a winning franchise: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.

The video game upon which this latest summer fling is based was quite good and very cinematic in its own right. Love in the Time of Cholera director Mike Newell had his work cut out for him, as it surely must have been a challenge to escape the dreaded fallacies that plaque most big screen video game adaptations. Does Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time make you feel like you're part of the game? Or does it make you feel like your leaning over someone else's shoulder watching them play? Is it the next Pirates of the Caribbean? Or is it more in lines with Walt Disney's The Country Bears? What we really want to know is: Does Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time suck or not?

Now, I'm like you and I haven't seen the film yet. That's why I've scoured the Internet looking to see what the critics have to say. Tickets cost a lot of money, and I don't feel like wasting mine. So lets take a look at the word on the street, and see if Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is worth our time and hard earned cash.

This first review comes from a man that was invited all the way to England to talk with the cast and crew. Despite that all-expenses paid trip, the poor bastard still couldn't come up with anything nice to say about the movie. Which certainly indicates to me that if this guy got a free hotel, all the free food he could eat, a chance to mingle with the stars, and whatever other freebies they showered upon him, and he didn't like it, I certainly am not going to like it when I plunk down fourteen American dollars of my own. Here we go, and remember, you can read the entire reviews by clicking on the links provided:

Coming Soon's Ed Douglas:

"Any attempt to create a magical fun adventure falls flat, ultimately turning into a convoluted mess that barely registers once the end credits roll. It's always so obviously trying to be something else. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time just doesn't work. Jake Gyllenhaal...seems completely out of place in the role of Dastan. The forced chemistry between Gyllenhaal and Gemma Arterton contributes to the problems because so much of the movie focuses on them, and their trading of jabs isn't as much fun as it should be. The visual FX are also cheesy. The movie's biggest stumbling block is in trying to create a sense of danger while never getting very serious, and by the time our heroes are being attacked by flying CG snakes, the movie has lost any chance of coming back."

Cinematical's Joe Utichi:

"At times you'd be forgiven for thinking you'd wandered into Pirates 4. There's a little less sense of peril to the picture than might perhaps be demanded of a film designed to keep us engaged until its finale. Gemma Arterton feels like she's wandered in from another movie. Ben Kingsley is the real duff note. (His) attitude seems to suggest the whole adventure is rather beneath him, and since the movie's finale relies on us buying that character, his apathy further removes from the sense of excitement in these closing scenes. There's too much wrong with the film for it to really engage. As the credits roll the real sense is one of overwhelming disappointment at an opportunity missed.

Emanuel Levy:

"A narratively cheesy, special effects driven action-adventure, which is likely to satisfy only young, indiscriminating children and teenagers. Unfortunately, impersonally and indifferently directed by Mike Newell. Simplistic to a fault. It's hard to think of another contemporary director, who goes out of his way to defy the approach of autherism, jumping from genre to genre and from format to format--but to largely unimpressive results. Anachronistic dialogue, and references to current politics, specifically the Iraq War and weapons of mass destruction, threaten to turn the saga into an indefinable mishmash, a hodge-podge of a movie. An old-fashioned, innocuous tale."

Variety's Leslie Felperin:

"Slips from the mind all too easily. Won't connect with other auds on the level of Jerry Bruckheimer's Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Pic's lack of game-changing originality, distinguishing anarchic streak or 3D wow factor may relegate this to summertime also-ran status. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time feels resolutely old-fashioned. The script lacks the deliberately anachronistic, tongue-in-cheek humor auds have come to expect from big-budget period productions. Gyllenhaal (is) a minor disappointment. The wolfish charisma he usually projects in smaller dramas seems to have degraded here into hangdog dopiness. There's a sense the pic has altogether too much design and not enough style."

Time Out New York's Keith Uhlich:

"This humdrum fantasy epic lacks muscle. Those who've seen director Mike Newell's DOA Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix shouldn't be surprised at how flat and dull this spectacle is. His fantasy-filmmaking ability ranks somewhere between nil and zilch. Just...a lot of incoherent action sequences, a(nd a) listless romance."

Empire Online's Ian Nathan:

"Yes, there's no avoiding the obvious, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time arrives dragging that old bête noire for the blockbuster consumer: 'based on a video-game'. The results find a tepid middle ground between a hurl-it-up-there approach, and (a) devoted restraint in the cause of character and story. Most of their dialogue is as crusty as the city walls. A suicidal ostrich comes very close to giving the finest performance in the film. Its restraint might put off thrill-seekers, but if you can endure the wooden dialogue and sloppy exposition, it musters the entertainment quotient of a middle-order Harry Potter."

The Guardian's Andrew Pulver:

"Silly, over-complicated video game adaptation. A series of painfully complicated events. Director Mike Newell, having displayed his FX chops on Harry Potter, makes everything look very nice and feel fleetingly exciting, but even he can't do anything about the fundamental silliness of the plot, which is so convoluted that its protagonists have to regularly stop and shout out what "must" be done to ensure all the 10-year-olds in the audience don't get hopelessly confused.

The Mirror's David Edwards:

"Might be the worst of an already bad bunch. There's simply nothing good about it. The special effects are ropey, the plot creaks, the performances are indifferent and - worst of all - it patronizes the viewer with dialogue that explains what's about to happen at every turn. What is wrong with the film? The effects. Looks...like a cheap videogame. When it comes to the acting,
 things are no better. The original videogame was a lot more fun. In fact, so is banging a rusty nail through your 
big toe."

There you have it, folks. If we're to believe our critics, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time mostly sucks. But maybe not as bad as some of the other stuff we've seen this summer. You know I'll take their word for it. I am going to save my money and buy a pork loin melt on Texas toast and a beer. Maybe next week will look a little brighter...Um, nope!

B. Alan Orange at Movieweb
B. Alan Orange