'Prince of Persia' is pure entertainment

What is a swashbuckler movie, really? The definition may not quickly come to mind, but we know one when we see it, and "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" is, for want of a better word, a 6th century pull-out-all-the-stops swashbuckler.

Is there lots of swordplay? You bet. Is there a stunning princess whose subjects live behind the massive walls of a sacred city? Yep. And is there a hero, a commoner-prince no less, chiseled, athletic, agile and a really, really lucky swashbuckler? Indeed.

Is there a bright spark between the princess and the swashbuckler? Of course, though unrequited, like oil and water, but with lots of chemistry with a closing, almost chaste kiss. Is there an antagonist, a traitorous, duplicitous villain? You bet. Is there a nifty story? Well, OK, it's a bit thin, a bit chaotic, dealing with a magical dagger that possesses the ability to bend time. Is there a nice twist at the end? Definitely.

Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Dastan, the street-wise, adopted son of King Sharaman; Gemma Arterton is the spunky, lovely Princess Tamina; and Ben Kingsley portrays the dastardly villain who covets power and gold and his brother's throne.

Of course, the movie defines action. In fact, one element that makes "Prince of Persia" exciting is the introduction of parkour to countless chase scenes. Parkour was introduced in France as an urban form of free running, filled with controlled, acrobatic movements involving jumping, climbing and vaulting. Free runners, also called traceurs, move with speed and agility from building to building, over walls, across concrete barriers, all if which are found in any city setting.

Actually, the long, very intense opening of the recent James Bond movie, "Casino Royale," began with a long chase involving breath-taking parkour. In "Prince of Persia," Dastan practices hair-raising parkour as he runs through back city streets and across rooftops, all to great effect. But then, he's a swashbuckler.

It would be oh so easy to get snarky and pick on the "Prince of Persia." Bottom line? Kids will love this movie. For them, it's pure entertainment.

Sex and the City 2

Good grief. After years on television, and after the first big-screen adaptation, this second incarnation, titled "Sex and the City 2," jumps the shark or nukes the fridge and never looks back. Its insouciance is remarkable. Clearly, if there was ever a high point in this franchise, it happened long ago and all "2" offers is gratuitous everything, absent even a hint of a narrative.

The four friends — Charlotte (Kristin Davis), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), Samantha (Kim Cattrall) and Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) — are so obviously spoiled, pampered, over-coiffed, wrapped in designer everything, and, push comes to shove, uninteresting. For the last two years, the country has endured a slide into a recession with a capital "R" and yet here they are, tanned, jewelry bedecked, flush with affluence, never having missed a massage or a new haute couture dress.

Everything in this film is about over-the-top exaggeration and caricature, beginning with the lavish gay wedding and then led by cougar extrodinaire Samantha who is burdened with menopausal hot flashes while in the hunt for someone, anyone, who will reassure her of "… what? That remnants of her long-ago youth have not left her completely? Who knows? Or who in this vapid film cares? Not her three BFF.

There were some threads of an interesting story initially (Miranda, attorney at a big firm, confronts job sexism; Carrie is sensing a small existential crisis on the home front); however, all of that is forsaken when the foursome head off to Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, as guests of a billionaire sheik. Oil money abounds, and the lily is gilded and gilded again. To what end? Don't ask. It's all about obscene wealth and abundance and flying first class and taking a silly tour of the city while violating every custom imaginable to the point where obnoxious Samantha is threatened with jail for her lascivious behavior and dress. She's the poster child for the ugly American, caring not a wit that she's a guest in a country where women wear burkhas. And it gets worse.

Plot? Story? Some intelligent dialogue? Nope. This is a film about four contemporary women in 2010 and yet they are still portrayed as shallow shoppers who need men and who are oblivious to almost everything else. The film takes American women and sends them back into silly, mindless, shallow consumerism and little else.

It's a black diamond the size of a cocktail olive that awaits Carrie's finger upon her return to the Big Apple and to Mr. Big. Yes, size counts. And that's it. Smash-cut to the credits. Well, OK, there are a few moments of wrap-up, everything tidy for "3."

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