THE SCORPION KING
Directed by Chuck Russell. USA. 2002.
The Scorpion King
The Girl's Say...
Review by Jen Johnston
There are those big screen spectaculars that could go on for hours and you wouldnít mind a bit (Iím including movies like Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring. That was nearly 3 hours and every time I saw it, the sensation I always came away with was that it ended too fast). Then there are those flicks that are merely OK, but still worth a big screen look (here Iím thinking of Behind Enemy Lines. This was by no means a cinematic masterpiece, but was a high energy movie, and I thought that Owen Wilson (Shangai Noon) and Gene Hackman (Unforgiven) did a great job). Then there are those movies that are so appalling that I am genuinely surprised that the theatre screen doesnít explode rather than subject an innocent cinema loving public to them. It would be here where you would locate The Scorpion King.
The Scorpion King details the life of a minor character in The Mummy Returns, Mathayus. He is hired by a local tribe called the nubians to assassinate the community evil ruler; Memnon, and Memnonís sorceress Cassandra. Problems arise when Mathayus falls in love with Cassandra, kidnaps her, and Memnon sends his armies to bring her back.
The Rock (aka Dwayne Johnson, aka Man I am going to demand my 90 minutes back from should I ever meet him) stars as Mathayus, and here, captured on film, is the perfect example of why some artists should stick to their own art form. (If you want to call wrestling an art form.) His performance (or lack thereof) does absolutely nothing but irritate the audience members. (The female ones at the very least). As the man spent an hour and a half proving he knows absolutely nothing about the subject of women, hereís my little lesson for the day:
1) Women went to see The Mummy and The Mummy Returns.
2) Women told their female friends to go see The Mummy and The Mummy Returns because they enjoyed them, they were well made, and featured a star who treated his lady co-star as though she might have two brain cells in her head to rub together. Women enjoy that whole being treated with respect thing.
3) Some women got dragged/went by accident to The Scorpion King.
4) Those women talked to their friends, who then went to their boyfriends/other friends/ and convinced them to wait for Spiderman instead.
On behalf of all the women who were sitting in the audience with me, Mr. Johnson please allow me to sum up what we were all thinking:
You gianormous pompous ass.
The irritation I feel when this movie is mentioned is only accentuated by the lack of the use of the acting talents of Kelly Hu (Strange Days, No Way Back). All the way through The Scorpion King she is truly trying to put togther a likeable character. (She endears herself immediately to every female audience member, who can forgive the incredible gorgeousness, because of the fact she had to play a love scene with The Rock. Miss Hu, hereís hoping you got paid a truckload of money.) Unfortunately though, as an actress can only deliver the lines that the script gives her, her possibly wonderful sorceress role comes off as insipid and useless.
As is typical in most big budget action films, the best performance nod goes to the villain (Steven Brand of Beyond Bedlam and Heartbeat). In the role of Memnon, Brand is menacing and has moments of genuine eeriness but his performance is marred by the fact that he has obviously seen Gladiator one too many times, for his every nuance is stolen directly from Russell Crowe.
Speaking of stolen...
I would estimate that of the 5,000,000,000 fight scenes in The Scorpion King there may be 1 (and I am being generous) that isnít lifted directly from another movie. The most glaring victim of theft here is Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom for the scene where Mathayus detaches a gong from the wall in a crowded room, and runs behind it, being shot at, out a window. Itís not simply the fight scenes either, for most of the lines have come from somewhere else. Perhaps those Star Wars fans out there may remember Yoda and Obi-Wan telling Luke (re: Darth Vader) ďIf you face him alone, you will die.Ē I imagine that Lucas didnít imagine that line would be used later for Cassandra to warn Mathayus against battling Memnon on his own.
On top of being badly written, and unoriginal, itís also INCREDIBLY POORLY RESEARCHED. I imagine that writer Jonathan Hale decided to name Mathayusí tribe the Akkadians because he figured that no one going to see the movie would either a) have any sort of knowledge of Egyptian history, or b) be from Nova Scotia. Sadly for Hale, I have both qualifiers in my corner, (as does every maritimer who went through grade 6) and we know that Akkadians/Acadians are either an ancient Egyptian tribe, or the first permanent settlers on the Nova Scotian shore NOT A MYTHICAL RACE OF ASSASSINS. Mr Hale, the word for the day is research. R.E.S.E.A.R.C.H. Research.
I actually held out some
hope for The Scorpion King, for The Mummy and The Mummy
Returns were a lot of fun. Flying in the face of the enjoyable trend
set by itís predecessors , this movie is a sexist, chauvinistic, piece
of crap, that I will be advising everyone I know to avoid. Perhaps, next
time Mr. Johnson steps out onto the big screen, weíll all stay home and
read a book instead.
The Boy's Say...
Review by Mark Fougere
I had actually assured myself that I would go into The Scorpion King with no preconceived notions as to itsí level of quality. And for a brief period of time; I was impressed. This movie came smouldering out of the gates with special effects, and a beautiful, blazing scenery that would have impressed any theatre goer. Three seconds later I came to the realization that this movie was going to be about as original as a boy band named ď5 guys in sweaters.Ē The production crewís filmography was just a little too obvious here, for the fight/battle scenes were conspicuously taken straight from the WWF (hmmmmm.....). The Scorpion King producer Vince McMahon. (I am of course leaving out the bits where a huge battle scene was taking place, and yet the camera remains focused on the lead individuals....Mel Gibson, was ďThe RockĒ anywhere nearby when Braveheart was being filmed?)
The Setting: 5000 years ago in the notorious city of Gomorrah, (later to be called Egypt. Perhaps it is the Rock who names it so. I guess weíll have to wait for The Scorpion King 2 to find out.) A corrupt autocrat Memnon (played by Steven ďI want to be Russell Crowe so very badlyĒ Brand of TVís Savages), along with the unwilling assistance of a sorceress, (Kelly Hu) systematically eliminates all the nomadic tribes of the region, hoping to rule with fear when all those who oppose him are destroyed. Things become desperate when there is only one tribe remaining to stand against him. Their leader (Balathazar, played by Michael Clarke Duncan The Green Mile, Armageddon) enlists the help of the last member of a legendary race of assassins, Mathayus (Dwayne Johnson/The Rock).
The fact that The Rock was never required to string together more than a few syllables per scene is a glaring indicator, that it wasnít only the audience who noticed that the boy canít act. Iím not trying to take any credit away from his wrestling career, Iíve seen him in action, and he pulls off ďThe RockĒ as well as Hulk Hogan, or at least The Ultimate Warrior. Itís simply that I think he should stick to wrestling, because when you put him on a screen thatís 6 stories high, nothing he says or does is believable in the slightest. This man has all the dramatic prowess of a rubber boot.
Not only did The Rock feel like a joke to me, the whole movie made me want to laugh (just not on purpose). The director couldnít make up his mind as to what sort of movie he wanted to make. So, to cover all his bases, he picked two. With Michael Clarke Duncan, and The Rock youíve got action. With the bumbling twit (whoever he was) playing Mathayusí sidekick, youíve got comedy. (Of sorts. I would imagine he would be incredibly humorous to someone who had just been hopped up on something by the dentist.)
Now, donít get me all wrong here. Iím not saying that The Scorpion King has no entertainment value at all. I think it would be the perfect movie to entertain the kids for a few hours. (Provided of course that your kids are 1) semi-mature, 2) not deathly afraid of a few sword wielding fights, 3) scantily clad ancient bimbos, or 4) horrible acting.) Itís necessary to go into the theatre with the mind set that youíve just paid entirely too much for a cheesy story line and decent special effects, in order to exit with any kind of good mood whatsoever.
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