When I think of an action adventure movie set in the beautiful, golden desert of a Middle Eastern land, I expect picturesque cinematography, exotic locales and people, and brave, noble warriors who greet each other by tapping their lips and forehead before finishing with a hand wave, like Ardeth Bay in The Mummy. In this world, things are either said to be blessed, while others are cursed. People smile alot. Warriors are proud, hold their honour in high esteem, and are penitent towards God/Allah. They wield curved sabres, and the sword fights are intricately choreographed, often along stairwells or at the topmost edge of a castle wall. The beautiful heroine is usually feisty, while the hero smiles in amusement. Yeah, these stuff are cheesy as hell, but that's also why it is so fun.
Sadly, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time achieves only a few of these things. Picturesque cinematography was replaced by CGI landscapes. There were a few nice shots of sand dunes, but they were really tight shots, so you don't really see the full expanse of the desert. This is also one of the movies where the British accent doesn't work, especially with Prince Dastan's Cockney-like English. Nobody does the Middle Eastern hand-wave greet thing. And the "heroes" all started off doing something that is far from noble or honorable, trick or no trick. They behaved more like barbaric Vikings than proud Persians.
Another weak part is the use of the Dagger of Time. The use and limitations of this device are sketchy. No doubt, it is a magical artifact that can reverse time, but how far back does it turn the clock? Does it depend on how long the button is being pressed? Why is there a modern-day red button on the hilt of a medieval dagger in the first place? How much magic sand do you need for say, a 30-second jump back in time? How do you even measure the amount of sand per second of time travelling? Why does Princess Tamira wears a vial of magic sand around her neck even though the use of the Dagger is forbidden, apart from giving the hero (and hetero male audiences) an opportunity to check out her cleavage? None of these questions were answered in the movie.
The worst offender is the action, which is close to terrible. I heard some people calling the movie "Prince of Parkour", but associating the art of freerunning to this movie is an insult to the discipline. The action was filmed and edited in such a disjointed way that makes it very difficult to appreciate the parkour and swordfights on display. (For a good example of parkour action, see the Daniel Craig James Bond movie, Casino Royale.) Perhaps there never was much choreography in the first place, and the rapid edits serve to hide this shortcoming.
Still, I can't fully diss-miss this movie, as it does try its best to charm its way through humour, camaraderie among the cast, and some unexpected dramatic turns. Average at best.