A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
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?
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?
For kids who love fantasy
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.