(In theatres, May 2010) It’s hip to dismiss Hollywood summer blockbusters, but there’s nothing quite like the feel of a good well-made escapist fantasy. Forget about the video game origins of the film, or the loose historical allusions in the title: this first Prince of Persia movie works best as an action adventure fantasy, any kind of verisimilitude joyfully sacrificed on the altar of entertainment. Disney and producer Jerry Bruckheimer obviously aim to replicate the atmosphere of the first Pirates of the Caribbean, and while it’s not perfect, it works generally well at taking us from one action/effects set-piece to another. Jake Gyllenhaal makes for a credible action hero while Genna Arterton is almost impossibly sassy/cute in the film’s only noteworthy female role, but it’s Alfred Molina who ends up the film’s standout oddball character as a quasi-modern parody of a libertarian. Not that he’s the only charmingly anachronistic element in a plot that is based on a middle-eastern invasion motivated by false reports of weapons of mass destruction. But never mind the politics when the film mixes swashbuckling adventure, an Arabian fantasy setting and an intriguing fantasy plot device. You can see the end of the story coming from the film’s first twenty minutes (which is probably a good thing, given its reset-button nature), but it’s the telling that’s the charm here. Not that it’s a complete success like its piratical predecessor: Prince of Persia sometimes feel a bit too long, sorely misses more female characters, could have used another dialogue re-write, has no cultural legitimacy (See “Persia, Prince of”) and often feels driven by incredible contrivances. But, you know, I’m already looking forward to the sequel. After all, I’ve just seen Robin Hood: I’ve had my inoculation shot against excessive realism.