Tuesday afternoon at no less than the offices of Jerry Bruckheimer himself, Cinematical joined a small group of reporters from other online entertainment and gaming sites to screen the forthcoming theatrical trailer for Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Mike Newell's adaptation of the popular video game series of the same name. Following two screenings of the trailer, which runs approximately two and a half minutes, Bruckheimer and game creator Jordan Mechner answered questions from the group and discussed the development of the film.
While I'm no video game aficionado, the trailer seemed to have the right kind of quasi-interactive action that most modern games do – the "Prince," played by Jake Gyllenhaal, breezily navigates several death-defying scenarios in the short clip, including dodging an avalanche, diving off of a precipice into a swordfight, and fighting off the attention of the comely Gemma Arterton. According to dialogue and voiceover narration, the film essentially follows the Prince as he discovers and protects a sword that can literally turn back time; after several bullet-time sequences where Gyllenhaal transforms into a golden statue (well, more golden than normal), villain Ben Kingsley confesses that he wants to take control of the weapon in order to destroy the world, or control it, or something.
As a bona fide tentpole movie, Prince of Persia possesses all of the same qualities that made Bruckheimer's previous fantasy franchise, The Pirates of the Caribbean, a success: breathtaking action, international intrigue, a roguish hero, and an attractive heroine. When asked what distinguishes this game adaptation from the host of mediocre ones that precede it, Bruckheimer said success all comes down to a fairly simple technique. "We took our time developing it," Bruckheimer said casually. "Over a number of years we developed it and worked with it and the writers until we got to a place where we felt we really had a good screenplay. That's the key, telling a good story... I think that's the key to our success. Create interesting characters, create romance, create action, have you care about the characters, and put them in very dramatic situations. That's what we've done, with Jordan's help."
When asked what he thought was the concept or quality that most needed to be translated for the film to be a successful adaptation, Mechner explained that a lot was changed, primarily because the film needed to be cinematic in a different way than its source material. "The World of 1001 Nights inspired the game, and I think the idea of a dagger that can turn back time was really key to the 2003 game, and that's something we carried over to the movie," he explained. "We reconceived the mythology in a way that would make a better movie, as an experience that's meant to be shared by an audience, not played with a controller in your hand. We never really intended for it to match the game exactly, but I think people who play the game will recognize a lot of characters and scenes from the game."
As suggested above, the majority of the material in the trailer is exciting in a big and spectacular way, suggesting that the film could be good if the humor has a light enough touch, while the action possesses some real energy and intensity – which thus far seems to be the case. But we definitely want to know what you think. In which case, let us know if you're looking forward to Jake Gyllenhaal's abs in action, and why! (like we don't know, ladies.)