"The Scorpion King"
Directed by Chuck Russell.
Written by Stephen Sommers, William Osborne and David Hayter.
Starring The Rock, Michael Clarke Duncan and Kelly Hu.
Release Year: 2002
Review Date: 4/18/02
My friend Max is a movie critic here in San
Francisco, so he invited me along to check out the Monday premiere
of the new flick "The Scorpion King", starring wrestling star The
In an interesting twist of fate, my friend
Gordon called me on Monday and left a message for me telling me
these simple words:
"Justin, 'The Scorpion King' comes out on
Friday...and, you WILL be giving this film an Opening Weekend rating
when you review it. It stars The Rock, and therefore...it should be
an Opening Weekend. If you don't, I will fly out to San Francisco
and, well, kill you."
All I said to him when I called him the next
day was that I respected his thoughts and that I will hold judgment
until I send out the review on Friday morning. Sadly, "The Scorpion
King" was not worthy of the Opening Weekend rating. Or the $9.00
Show. Or the Matinee.
"The Scorpion King" is a prequel to the
events of "The Mummy", the shitty Brendan Fraser "movie" that
spawned an equally bad sequel,
"The Mummy Returns." In that sequel,
we are given a glimpse of the character that The Rock plays in "The
Scorpion King", an assassin-turned-king that is trained in the
deadly arts, blah blah blah. In "The Scorpion King", The Rock plays Mathayus, one of the last of the Arcadians, the best assassins in
the world until they are wiped out by neighboring forces. After he
and some partners are paid to take down the sorceress of The Bad Guy
(mulleted Steven Brand), Mathayus realizes some stuff that doesn't
make much sense. Luckily, the sorceress (hot Kelly Hu) is worth the
trip and makes Mathayus learn something about his inner self.
Whatever. Here's what you should know: The
Rock isn't awful--not Mariah Carey-awful. But, he is pretty bad.
He seems caught somewhere in-between a bad, bad script (partially
written by David Hayter, the voice of Solid Snake in the PS2 game
"Metal Gear Solid 2"), too much CGI (damn near half the movie seems
like it was shot in front of a blue screen), and too much mediocre
talent around him (this is Brand's first film; Hu can't act so much
as sashay). I hate to say this...but, in terms of leading
performance quality, Britney beats The Rock in Round 1. My God, did
I just say that???
What's even worse about this was how many
films...how many fucking films..."The Scorpion King" rips off. Max
and I, collectively, have probably seen every action film of the
last 20 years. So, as scenes are gratuitously ripped off (some as
obvious as "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" or "Rambo: First
Blood Part II", some as subtlely as "The Goonies" or "Beastmaster"),
Max and I are yelling out each one in succession. To Max's credit,
he nailed "Flash Gordon" in one scene late in the film; I shook
Max's hand later for getting that one right. I mean, right down to
the cinematography, this film just feels stolen. Director Chuck
Russell even plucks one of the good guys from
"Gladiator" to help
rip off that film. Oh, did I mention that even certain movements
are stolen from "Judge Dredd", even featuring buddy talk between The
Rock and a guy that is footstep-for-footstep playing Rob Schneider's
weakling sidekick from that Sly Stallone disaster?
The action is not bad, and for a PG-13 this
film has a lot of death. And, there are bountiful women that fawn
over The Rock whenever he is on-screen. But, that is all that
redeems it. Somewhere during the editing process, it feels like
staffers just went to sleep; in one scene, Hu's sorceress is
*clearly* seen weaponless, then a second later is seen brandishing a
knife in a fight scene. Not giving The Rock any signature lines?
That just seems criminal; if he had broke out even one WWF moment
(not that I would recognize it, since I don't watch wrestling), he
would have had me. You will even note how bad of a kisser the guy
is; one wonders if his wife was sitting just off-camera saying
"Don't you dare!!" And, don't even get me started on Michael Clarke
Duncan; every actor is allowed a puff piece, but Duncan has followed
his Oscar-nominated turn in
"The Green Mile"--which, even I will
admit is a little fluky, but still--by starring in
"The Whole Nine
Yards", "See Spot Run", and this shit. C'mon!
Personally, I hope that The Rock uses this
box-office success ("The Scorpion King" will open huge this weekend;
judging from the crowd at the premiere, you might consider buying
tix online if you are going to see it this weekend) to parlay it
into something critically more beneficial. You can feel charisma
just waiting to get out, if only the role is right. Buddy cop
films, here comes The Rock!!
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard