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Scorpion King, The

Universal // PG-13 // April 19, 2002
List Price: Unknown

Review by Loren Halek | posted April 22, 2002 | E-mail the Author
Reviewer's Note: Before I get into this movie, I think it is important to talk about how I review summer movies differently than any other season. The usual summer movie slate is made up of action films with little to no plot. I term these movies "popcorn movies" and I rate them on the level of enjoyment I had while watching them. There will be some summer movies this year with some amount of plot like Spider-Man, Attack of the Clones and Men in Black 2 that I will be more critical of and have a more in-depth look at. For the "popcorn movies" I rate them on pure entertainment. This is in stark contrast of movies I have reviewed like Fellowship of the Rings and Panic Room where I was a bit more critical. In those types of movies I go more into the plot than I will in the "popcorn movies". It is also important to note that "popcorn movies" will rarely get a high rating from me unless they really blow me away. With that out of the way, let us begin…

The Movie

Can you feel it? The summer movie season is upon us with the release of The Scorpion King. It seems every year the summer season starts earlier and earlier. The Scorpion King fits right into the season that relies on movies with a lot of action, but little in the way of substance or plot. Dwayne Johnson (AKA The Rock) stars in this prequel to his cameo role in The Mummy Returns from last year. The movie hones in on how Mathayus, the Rock's character, goes from an assassin sent to kill the sorceress Cassandra (Kelly Hu) to falling in love with her and overthrowing the current Scorpion King Memnon (Steve Brand).

There is little to no plot outside of the basic outline above. This movie is mostly used to showcase the Rock in a full-out action movie. I will say the Rock does a good acting job though and has already shown a greater range of acting ability in this movie than Arnold Schwarzenegger has shown in his career. A lot of people are killed in this movie by the Rock, but strangely enough no blood is spilled. This of course is so the movie can fit into the PG-13 rating. This movie has a lot of sword battles in it and the sound was very good. As a straight action movie The Scorpion King is pretty good.

This movie has a lot of problems though. It stands up to neither of its prequels, The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, in acting or CGI effects. The movie was obviously not written with the comedic tone that Brendan Fraser ran with in the two Mummy movies. I feel the Rock could have benefited from a better screenplay. He certainly has the ability to do deadpan jokes like Brendan Fraser given his constant monologues on WWF shows. Why not allow him to do so? There are some jokes here and there, but I just feel they could have given the Rock more to work with and that could have brought the audience into the movie a little bit more. Hopefully this is just the beginning for the Rock and he can have a better story and more to work with next time than just flexing his muscles and doing straight-out action. I think the Rock has the potential to excel in any brand of movie if he is given the chance.

The other problem with this movie is it has little to no CGI and/or special effects. I realize this was probably a very budget-orientated film that is relying solely on the Rock's name to sell the movie, but I was certainly expecting more CGI/special effects. I was not expecting a level comparable to the 2 Mummy movies, but I just found it lacking. There is no magical evil in this movie outside of the sorceress and her ability to see the future like in the Mummy movies. If there is a sequel to this movie in the works I certainly hope they have a higher level of CGI/special effects in it.

Final Thoughts: The Scorpion King is an average movie. I know not many people liked the Mummy movies as much as I did, but even The Scorpion King pales in comparison. The only person here of any interest is the Rock (and Kelly Hu in skimpy clothing), and I am glad to see that Hollywood has given him a chance to have a film career. Hopefully he will get some more chances in an action movie with a better story or another genre altogether. With minimal special effects and plot, this is both a bad (the effects) and good example (the plot) of the traditional summer action movie. The Scorpion King is a good popcorn movie, one where you do not have to think about things and can just sit and enjoy what you are watching. It is also the beginning of a promising, yet very sequel based, summer movie season that I am definitely looking forward to. I recommend The Scorpion King for the Rock and if you just want to go to the movie theater and just enjoy a mindless film.




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