Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Movie Poster Image
Tepid video-game fantasy flick tame enough for young teens.
  • PG-13
  • 2010
  • 103 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 30 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 67 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive messages

The most important message of the movie is that the bonds of brotherhood and family should be stronger than greed, competition, envy. The king also espouses the idea that a great leader does what's right even if it's not popular.

Positive role models & representations

The king is a righteous and loving monarch who wants his sons to learn how to reign honorably (though he's in very few scenes). Dastan and Tamina lie occasionally, but they're ultimately brave and loyal, as are Dastan's royal brothers. Even the sheik and Seso act nobly after Dastan saves them from the Hassansins. Tamina wobbles between strong female figure and damsel in distress.

Violence

As in most action adventures, there are a lot of chase scenes -- in the desert or marketplaces or castles. There are definitely deaths -- due mostly to swords and knives, and in one case an assassination by a burning cloak -- but the violence isn't grisly or overly bloody. The threat of violence is always present, however, and the assassin squad is creepy and frightening. They use snakes and ninja-like sword skills to track down and kill their intended target. 

Sex

Some flirting, mild innuendo, revealing outfits, and a couple of rather chaste kisses. In one scene, a harem-like group of bikini-clad women appear.

Language

Some mild insults like "trash," "illiterates," "slave," etc.

Consumerism

There are no product placements in the movie, but the movie could be considered one huge tie-in to the popular video game.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

A character asks "Have you been drinking," when an archer misfires. Dastan looks a bit tipsy in one scene, but there's not a drink in his hand.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this fantasy adventure -- based on a popular, teen-rated video game -- is high on action, but relatively low on anything else potentially objectionable for young teens (though, like many big action movies, the marketing targets kids too young for this kind of action). The sexuality is limited to some obvious flirting (longing gazes and occasional chaste touching) and a couple of kisses, and strong language is virtually non-existent. Violence, however, is prevalent throughout the movie, with the protagonist constantly on the run, being chased, and having to dodge arrows, blades, flames, and snakes. Despite the amount of violence, it's still not as gory or bloody as comparable movies. Ultimately, the message of family and honor is a valuable one, and the lovely princess isn't just a damsel in distress. 

User Reviews

Parent of a 17 year old Written bylinkking February 28, 2011
Thanks Violence, however, is prevalent throughout the movie, with the protagonist constantly on the run, being chased, and having to dodge arrows, blades, flame...
Parent Written byfcparent March 18, 2012

Great adventure for middle school kids

Good fantasy adventure with themes of loyalty, betrayal, honor, family, and romance. What's not to like? Ideal age range of 10-14. (but I have to admit,...
Teen, 17 years old Written bylotrlove October 19, 2013

Perfect for teens!

There is an awkward time in growing up when you realize that the children's movies you grew up on aren't quite as exciting as they used to be. It...
Teen, 13 years old Written byMovieReviewGuy July 1, 2011

Good for 13+

No language, drinking, drugs, or sex, but there is a lot of sword fighting, some blood, and just plain violence. Good for 13+.

What's the story?

Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal) is an unusual PRINCE OF PERSIA; he's a street orphan the righteous King Sharaman (Ronald Pickup) adopts after seeing him act bravely in the market square. Fifteen years after his adoption, Dastan leads a charge on the sacred city of Alamut based on iffy intelligence. The beautiful Princess of Alamut, Tamina (Gemma Arterton) is betrothed to Dastan, but immediately after the announcement, King Sharaman dies wearing a poisoned cloak an innocent Dastan presented to him. On the run, Dastan and Tamina try to evade capture by Persian soldiers while they attempt to figure out which Persian member of court actually killed the king and protect a mystical dagger that can disastrously turn back "the sands of time."

Is it any good?

Based on the immensely popular video game, this action adventure will surely attract hardcore gamers, though how they will react to the movie version is yet unclear. What is clear is that this two-hour adventure is a take-off of basically every other swashbuckling epic in the genre (from 300 to Indiana Jones) with charming leads and heavy special effects.

Gyllenhaal and Arterton (who are ample eye-candy for those looking for biceps-and-abs or provocatively dressed beauty to ogle) at least look like they're having a good time fleeing sword-wielding assassins. A scowling and smirking Ben Kingsley never quite reaches the right tone as the double-crossing late king's brother, who is (obviously) the  real villain of the story. The incredibly talented Alfred Molina, however, is on hand as the sixth-century equivalent of a casino owner to provide funny socio-political zingers about taxes and government corruption. It's a shame the movie wasn't about Molina's opportunistic Sheik Amar, who organizes ostrich races people bet on, and his bodyguard Seso (English actor Steve Toussaint), a master knife-thrower. That would've been endlessly more compelling than this underwhelming video-game fantasy.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the movie's message about family bonds and being a person of honor above all else. How did Dastan act honorably? What sacrifices was he willing to make to save Persia? Who in real life do you consider to be people of honor?

  • How does the movie compare to the video game? Are the same themes and quests involved? Do you think the movie is a giant advertisement for the video game, or does it stand on its own?

  • Princess Tamina is sometimes in need of rescuing, but is other times quite capable of defending herself, fighting villains. Which "version" of Tamina do you prefer? What do you think about her arranged marriage to Dastan?

  • Some critics have said it's wrong for white actors to play the main characters, who were clearly supposed to be Persian. What do you make of this?

  • The film's marketing and toy-tie ins are aimed at kids who are too young for the movie. How does this impact parents who think the movie is too mature for their kid?

Movie details

For kids who love fantasy

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