What’s princely about it:
- the hoppity-hop-hop chase sequences. They’re something right out of the earliest, platform-game version I remember playing as a kid. At times, I swear I could almost hear those neat old video-game sounds that accompany a leap or a fall or Mario-gobbling-up-a-coin moment.
- all that sand! There’s a bronzed glory to all the places and faces. In the absence of strong concept art, the distinctly dusky gold colour palette is the only thing that leaves an impression. By the end you feel like you just dismounted a camel that had been running hysterically across the dunes of Persian deserts in a sandstorm.
- that winning smile. I don’t know if the resemblance was a deliberate move on Disney’s part, but Jake Gyllenhaal, with his big, round cartoony eyes and disarmingly boyish smile came close to being a live-action Aladdin (or, as the Genie would have said, ‘Al’). He’s absolutely likeable, and pulls off the greasy-haired look almost as well as Viggo Mortensen in Lotr (and that’s saying something!)
- the selfless-sacrifice-syndrome. Yes, there’s one of these in almost every flick. There were more of these than were necessary in this one. However, Seso’s heroism in the chamber where the dagger is being guarded by a Hassansin with super-cool-pointy-throwy-things is effective.
- that wretched dagger! A button? A red button? Really? They could have taken the dagger one jump ahead of the LED toys being sold at sunday-bazaars by maybe going for a more dignified mechansim, like a handle that had to be twisted. And the anything-but-discreet glow that the dagger emitted…well, let’s just say the dagger-seekers wouldn’t ever have had to say ‘Is this a dagger i see before me?’ (‘Macbeth’ fans say ‘Aye!’)
- the clumsy gaurdians-of-the-dagger lore. You really cannot give a tale epic dimensions just by introducing a vague, scrappy creation-story into it. Mythologies are not spun overnight. If the filmmakers were indeed looking for grand old roots for their story, they should have dug deeper into Persian literature and not just skimmed over it like a seagull in a hurry, fishing out only a couple of names like ‘Dastan’ or ‘Alamut’.
- Elizabeth Swann cloned (as if one wasn’t enough!) Princess Tamina is a less skinny but equally shrill and scatterbrained version of Elizabeth Swann who, too, starts out as a dignified young lady with her head held high, and ends up as a pile of dirty rags that nags.