From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman. 3 of 4 stars.
“Prince of Persia” loud, dumb but fun swords-and-sandals adventure
The sixth-century setting aside, the swords-and-sandals adventure “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” qualifies as an unabashed throwback.
Director Mike Newell (“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”) and producer Jerry Bruckheimer (“Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl”) put a modern spin on Saturday matinee romps in which the brave protagonist pulls off superhuman feats in battle, charmingly woos a feisty heroine and faces seemingly insurmountable challenges on a quest to right wrongs. Swashes will be buckled, with Douglas Fairbanks-style athleticism and Errol Flynn-esque aplomb.
For better or worse, “Prince of Persia” doesn’t stray too far from its video-game origins: The plethora of action sequences emphasize lightning-fast cuts and head-spinning stunts, and the story is riddled with ridiculous plot holes, goofy dialogue and unlikely coincidences.
Fortunately, the loud, fast-paced dumbness is offset with a rip-roaring sense of fun too often detonated right out of many summer popcorn flicks. (Yes, Michael Bay, I’m talking to you.)
Usually oh-so-serious Jake Gyllenhaal stars as the titular royal, Dastan, a former orphan boy adopted after good King Sharaman (Ronald Pickup) witnessed an instance of his courage and kindness. His Highness is passing on the family business of conquering and empire-building to his sons, with elders Tus (Richard Coyle) and Garsiv (Toby Kebbell) leading the army proper while the bold and nimble Dastan captains a band of guerrilla fighters.
When their uncle Nizam (Ben Kingsley) presents evidence that the holy city of Alamut is arming for an uprising, the brothers attack against their father’s orders. During the pitched battle, Dastan comes to possess an unusual dagger, despite the efforts of Alamut’s leader, Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton), to hide it.
An act of betrayal makes Dastan a wanted man and puts him on the run, with Tamina pursuing him in the hopes of recovering the dagger, which has powerful mystical properties. As they trek through beautifully brutal deserts, mountains and cities, they encounter a wily sheik (Alfred Molina), his knife-throwing sidekick (Steve Toussaint) and a fierce assassin (Gísli Örn Garðarsson) who can control snakes and whirlwinds.
Gyllenhaal establishes himself as a worthy cinematic action hero, shares smoldering chemistry with Arterton and plays well with the colorful cast of supporting characters.
Although the film might have benefited from more culturally-accurate casting, the star is having so much fun sword-fighting, back-flipping and wise-cracking as Prince Dastan that his enthusiasm for “Prince of Persia” proves contagious.
Carrie Underwood’s “All-American Girl” will be available to download next week from the Rock Band Music Store.
Harmonix and MTV Games today announced that a four-pack of songs from American punk rockers X; three singles, including a free track, from British garagerockers Little Fish; as well as singles from Ace Frehley, OneRepublic and Oklahoma country music star Carrie Underwood will be added next week to the Rock Band Music Store of downloadable content for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii.
These are among the more than 400 artists who have songs currently available through the “Rock Band” video game platform. “Rock Band” has more than 1,100 songs available to play.
Los Angeles-formed punk rockers X make their “Rock Band” debut next week with “Blue Spark” and “The Hungry Wolf” from 1982’s “Under the Big Black Sun”; “I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts” from 1983’s “More Fun in the New World”; and “Los Angeles” from the band’s 1980 debut album “Los Angeles,” which Rolling Stone named one of its 500 Greatest Albums of All Time and 100 Greatest Albums of the ’80s.
Three singles from British garage rockers Little Fish also will be available, including “Am I Crazy,” “Bang Bang” and “Darling Dear,” all from the band’s debut album, “Baffled & Beat,” set to be released in July. “Am I Crazy” will be available only on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 system and will be a free track. “Baffled & Beat” was produced by Linda Perry and initially released on her label, Custard Records. After successful opening slots for acts such as Hole, Alice in Chains and Eagles Of Death Metal, Little Fish is headlining its own U.K. tour in support of “Baffled & Beat.” The rockers also are opening for Them Crooked Vultures Monday at the Royal Albert Hall.
Additional singles from Carrie Underwood (“All-American Girl”), Ace Frehley (“Outer Space”) and OneRepublic (“Stop & Stare”) will be available in the Rock Band Music Store next week.
The tracks will be available on Xbox 360 and Wii Tuesday and PlayStation 3 on Thursday.
The song that has been on my brain the most this week:
- “Here Comes the Sun,” The Beatles, from the 1969 album “Abbey Road.”
“Here Comes the Sun” has long been among my favorite Fab Four songs, and the Beatles have been on all music lovers’ minds frequently this week. Remastered versions of the band’s entire catalog were released Wednesday, the same day the anticipated game “The Beatles: Rock Band” made its debut.
But this hopeful song also has been on brain since today is the eighth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It was such a dark day, but the way our country bonded together was heartening. It is my fervent hope and belief that our country and world will continue to find better days as time goes by.
With George Harrison’s bright lyrics, acoustic guitar and Moog synthesizer, with the rest of the band hand-clapping along, how can you not feel a sense of hope when you listen to “Here Comes the Sun”?
Fab Four fans rejoice: The hotly anticipated video game “The Beatles: Rock Band” reaches stores today.
The game is available on Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii and Playstation 3.
Gamers can buy just the software or invest in the “The Beatles: Rock Band” limited edition premium bundle, which along with the game itself includes the controller version of Paul McCartney’s Höfner bass, The Beatles branded “Rock Band” drums, microphone, microphone stand and special content.
The game itself includes 40 of the legendary band’s hits, as well as additional downloadable content to be released in the future. It features a variety of gameplay environments drawn from The Beatles’ career, including the Cavern Club, Abbey Road and Shea Stadium.
“The Beatles: Rock Band” also is the first music game to offer harmonies as part of gameplay, which means multiple singers can perform on the same songs and accept the challenge to recreate The Beatles’ distinctive vocal blend.
I know the game is on the birthday and Christmas lists of many of my family members and friends, so I’m betting this will be one of the biggest game releases of the year.
In honor of the game’s debut, remastered versions of The Beatles’ entire catalog also are being released today.
Brooks & Dunn (Associated Press photo)
Hitmaking country duo Brooks & Dunn, which includes Kix Brooks and former Tulsan Ronnie Dunn, will release the final album of their musical partnership today. The greatest hits compilation is titled “#1s… And Then Some.”
Brooks & Dunn announced Aug, 10 that they would be parting ways after 20 years of making music together. They will make their break after “The Last Rodeo Tour” in 2010.
In other music news, remastered versions of the entire Beatles catalog are due out Wednesday.
The special re-release of all the Fab Four’s albums coincides with the big release Wednesday of the hotly anticipated game “The Beatles: Rock Band.”
Here is a list of this week’s new CDs, DVDs and books, from Amazon.com, VideoETA.com and BarnesandNoble.com:
Brooks & Dunn, “#1′s…And Then Some.”
A Fine Frenzy, “Bomb in a Birdcage.”
Howie Day, “Sound the Alarm.”
Boys Like Girls, “Love Drunk.”
Peter White, “Good Day.”
Crank 2: High Voltage
Valentino: The Last Emperor
The Office – Season Five
Criminal Minds: The Complete Fourth Season
Fringe: The Complete First Season
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency
Thomas & Friends: Hero of the Rails
Harper’s Island: The DVD Edition
Bedknobs and Broomsticks: Enchanted Musical Edition
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey’s Adventures in Wonderland
“The Last Song” by Nicholas Sparks.
“The Conversation: How Black Men and Women Can Build Loving, Trusting Relationships” by Hill Harper.
“Dark Visions: The Strange Power; The Possessed; The Passion” by L.J. Smith.
“Day after Night” by Anita Diamant.
“Dexter by Design” by Jeff Lindsay.
“A Gate at the Stairs” by Lorrie Moore.
“The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment” by A. J. Jacobs.
“Level 26: Dark Origins” by Anthony E. Zuiker.
“The Magician’s Elephant” by Kate DiCamillo.
“The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” by Dayton Duncan.
“Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to” by Kathy Griffin.
“A Quiet Belief in Angels” by R.J. Ellory.
“Shooting Stars” by LeBron James.
“Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears” by Pema Chodron.
“Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother/Daughter Memoir” by Sue Monk Kidd.
“You Were Always Mom’s Favorite: Sisters in Conversation Throughout Their Lives” by Deborah Tannen.
Well, BAM’s been wanting me to post again because I haven’t for a while, so here I am again. Since she’s been a little busy with other things lately, I thought I’d pick up the slack for the boys over at Rooster Teeth. If you are a Red vs. Blue fan (and you should be!), then you will be excited by the arrival of the trailer for the new series “Recreation.”
Also, the boys are branching out from machinima projects (those made with game engines) and into live action. They’ve done several live action projects lately. My favorites are the “RT shorts” which showcase what the guys are like around the office (hint: they are hilarious). I’ve added links to a couple of my favorites below. As with all things Rooster Teeth, please beware: they are funny but foul!
Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr at E3 video game conference Monday. (Associated Press photo)
Surviving Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr appeared Monday during the Microsoft presentation at the E3 video game conference in Los Angeles to promote the upcoming game “The Beatles: Rock Band”
They were joined by Yoko Ono, John Lennon’s widow, and Olivia Harrison, George Harrison’s widow, according to the Associated Press.
The game will include 45 Beatles songs. Another hit, “All You Need Is Love,” will be released on the Xbox 360 for download, with proceeds going to Doctors Without Borders.
“The Beatles: Rock Band” will be released on Sept. 9. I cannot wait.
Former “Donkey Kong” world champ Steve Wiebe is trying to take back his title at the Electronic Entertainment Expo.
Wiebe’s successful quest to break the “Donkey Kong” record was featured in one of my all-time favorite documentaries, 2007′s “The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters.”
Hot-sauce mogul Billy Mitchell eventually regained the world title from Wiebe and is the current record-holder.
My colleague Matt Price over at Nerdage has the “Wiebecam” embedded and is following the progress of Wiebe’s new quest to become the “King of Kong.” Check it out by clicking here.
The mega-popular Rock Band video game is going country this week, according to CMT.com. Six of Oklahoma star Toby Keith’s songs go on sale this week in the Rock Band Music Store.
The Keith hits available for download are Beer for My Horses, I Love This Bar, She’s a Hottie, Should’ve Been a Cowboy, Who’s Your Daddy? and How Do You Like Me Now?! All the tracks are original master recordings.
The tracks are $1.99 each or the six pack costs $9.99. The Toby Keith Six-Pack is available in the Xbox LIVE Marketplace today, and it will go on sale Thursday in the PlayStation Store.
The song that has been on my brain the most this week:
- “E-Pro,” Beck, from his 2005 album “Guero.”
Not only is this rock/rap/pop fusion song incredibly infectious, it’s also one of my favorites to play on “Rock Band 2.” “E-Pro” taught me a valuable lesson about my musical skills: I couldn’t effectively rap if a gangsta held a gun to my head, but I can nah-nah-nah with the best pop princesses out there.
Credited to Beck, the Beastie Boys and the Dust Brothers, the lead-off single of “Guero” represents what makes Beck a uniquely talented artist. It’s inventive, eclectic and gets stuck in your head like nobody’s business.
The driving guitar riffs and frantic drum beats, Beck’s quirky cadence on the evocative but enigmatic vocals and of course, those irrestible nah-nah-nahs keeps your head bobbing along until the song abruptly ends.
Of course, you can’t talk about “E-Pro” without talking about the surreal music video created by the London artist group Shynola. The video, posted here courtesy VH1, features Beck rising from a grave to cavort around a bizarre animated landscape.