Video games have inspired few good movies. Mortal Kombat was sort of fun, Resident Evil had its chills, and Angelina Jolie was a credible Lara Croft, but none of them have been great. For every Tomb Raider there's a Hitman, Legend of Chun-Li or Super Mario Bros.
But producer Jerry Bruckheimer unveiled never-before-seen footage from Disney's upcoming Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time at the D23 fan expo in Anaheim, Calif., on Friday, and it rocked the house, suggesting that Persia may be the first video-game-based movie to break the mold.
Bruckheimer and Walt Disney Studios chairman Dick Cook presented the clips and discussed the film, based on the Ubisoft title. Here are five good signs that Bruckheimer's movie has leveled up. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton and Ben Kingsley. Mike Newell directed. It opens May 28, 2010.
1) Those prince moves were made for movies. The footage opens with a shot of the prince (Gyllenhaal) perched above the city and gave us an idea what it looks like when a real person swings around an ancient city, wall-walks and climbs up a castle grabbing onto arrows embedded into the wall.
There wasn't any footage of the prince jumping over a chasm, grasping a ledge and pulling himself up. Maybe that's the money shot they're saving for the Super Bowl spot.
2) The story is epic. Now we don't just mean exotic lands and fantastic realms. Prince of Persia is metaphysically epic as well. "I love the mystical part," Bruckheimer said. "The dagger holds the sands of time." Footage gave us a glimpse of the sands dissolving the prince out of linear time in a golden dust storm.
3) It's got really big action. The prince employs uber-Parkour moves to speed through treacherous environments, slides down a sand hill as a temple collapses over him and squares off with clanking swords and rippling biceps against other Arabian warriors.
4) It's lavish. No previous video-game movies so far have really pushed the limits of Hollywood production design, but Prince of Persia is a full-on historical epic. The filmmakers are so proud of the ancient Persian wardrobe that Disney put Gyllenhaal and Arterton's costumes on display in the hall of the Anaheim Convention Center.
5) They invented a new word to describe it. In his opening remarks, Cook referred to Prince of Persia as a "Sinbadic adventure," meant to evoke the fond memories of Ray Harryhausen's classic swashbuckling Sinbad films. If you invoke Harryhausen, you better have the goods.