The Scorpion King

The Scorpion King is the prequel to The Mummy Returns, which was the sequel to The Mummy. However, The Scorpion King is not really a prequel to The Mummy, since the characters in it were not in the original. Confused? Don't think to hard, or it will cause a headache. And don't think too hard when watching The Scorpion King, or it will cause a stroke. This film is Universal's attempt at prolonging The Mummy franchise (and starting a new one at the same time) and establishing wrestling star The Rock (aka Dwayne Johnson) as a bona fide action hero. It succeeds on both counts, but that doesn't mean its a good thing. Part of the reason why The Mummy movies worked so well was that it was a fun action movie, almost a throwback to old serials. The movies were violent but not too violent, and didn't take themselves too seriously. The Scorpion King raises both the violence and the self-deprecation, and the latter brings down the movie.

It is 2,000 before the events in The Mummy Returns, and Mathayus (The Rock, The Mummy Returns, Longshot) is one of the last of the Akkadians, a race of assassins. A band of free tribes hired him to kill Cassandra (Kelly Hu, Fakin' Da Funk, Star Command), a sorceress who works for Memnon (Steven Brand, Love in the 21st Century, Beyond Bedlam). Memnon is intent on subjugating or killing all other races, something that the few remaining tribes have little desire to do. Mathayus cares little for the other races until a turn of events makes his case against Memnon personal. He kidnaps Cassandra, who willingly goes with him, and then everybody gets together to fight Memnon. It's not much of a story, yet it took the combined efforts of Jonathan Hales (Eye of the Wolf, Baree), Stephen Sommers (The Mummy Returns, The Mummy), David Hayter (X-Men), and Wil Osborne (Kevin of the North, What Rats Won't Do) to come up with it. The main noticeable element is the constant quipping and uttering of remarks that are probably supposed to be witty. The sometimes non-stop nature of these jokes prove really distracting.

The Rock's imposing presence makes him a serviceable action hero. Any acting in this movie is beside the point, he just needs to fight and look buff. He is an imposing physical presence, and does have enough charisma and experience to know to have a little fun as Mathayus. Hu does little more than walk around in next to nothing, and other characters like Arpid (Grant Heslov, Bug, Failsafe) do little more than provide comic relief. But it all goes towards attracting its audience, which is probably young men, and it will work. It's as if director Chuck Russell (Bless the Child, Eraser) knows the inherent ridiculousness of the entire movie, so he allows everybody in the movie to do so also. Much of the dialogue is horrible and groan inducing. It complements the sometimes silly, ham-fisted cornball acting style that most of the cast seems to favor. The Scorpion King feels like basically a series of somewhat related action sequences cobbled together, with an ending left open for sequels (remember, at some point he turns into a bad guy). It's a little too dumb to enjoy, but not dumb enough to dislike.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 28 minutes, Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action violence and some sensuality.

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