I don't play video games, so any pre-awareness of "Prince of Persia" comes from my addiction to pop-culture Web sites. That puts me dead center in the wider audience that the studio needs to make "Prince of Persia" a movie blockbuster.

To ensure that, they hire an over-serious A-list actor like Jake Gyllenhaal to elevate multi-platform pablum (what used to be called a B-movie) into mass-market gold. It's worked before, but putting Tobey Maguire (a nerd) in a superhero movie about a nerd ("Spider-Man") is different from putting Gyllenhaal - who looks like a Semiotics major at Penn - in a sword-and-sandal action movie.

Let's be honest: Gyllenhaal looks ridiculous. Instead of taglines (and "X-Files" already used "Fight the Future"), it should be pushing Jerry Bruckheimer, the uber-producer who turned "Pirates of the Caribbean," a 50-year-old theme-park ride with no narrative, into a multi-sequel worldwide sensation. Without Johnny Depp, that information affects my ticket choice far more than Gyllenhaal's blowout.

I don't know if "Prince of Persia" is going to work, but it may help me imagine Adrien Brody in a big-screen version of "Grand Theft Auto."