ninth symphony films - movie reviews

THE SCORPION KING (2002)


DIRECTOR  -  chuck russell

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  fantasy

LENGTH  -  90 minutes

RELEASED  -  19 april 2002

DISTRIBUTOR  -  universal pictures

OFFICIAL SITE  -  the scorpion king

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $62,000,000
the scorpion king - a shot from the film

BUY THE DVD:

buy the dvd from the scorpion king at amazon.com

buy the dvd from the scorpion king at amazon.com


SYNOPSIS:
is set 5,000 years ago in the notorious city of gomorrah, where an evil ruler is determined to lay waste to all the nomadic peoples of the desert. knowing their enemy relies on the visions of a sorcerer, they hire a skilled assassin, mathayus, to eliminate the visionary.




MOVIE FACT:
more scenes had to be shot after the edited movie's running time ended up being around 70 minutes long.


MOVIE FOTOS:

picture from the scorpion king

picture from the scorpion king

picture from the scorpion king



RATING:


two out of four possible stars

With The Rock's bit performance in The Mummy Returns, it seemed inevitable that the wrestling star would be given his very own movie to romp around in. And so it is, after one year and a sixty million dollar budget, that The Scorpion King is brought to the screen. With the lightening quick set-up and delivery of this film from concept to screen, it is evident that the producers wanted to capitalize as quickly as possible on the talents (word used lightly) of the world wrestling federation's biggest star. The Scorpion King shouldn't be considered a direct follow-up to the first two mummy movies; it would be best described as a tangent to the series. Taking place approximately 5000 years ago, the setting of this film has no real need for special effects and given the primitive nature of the tribes living in the middle east back then (as described in the film). This film's scale is confined to how large the fight sequences are and how many people are shown on the screen.

There are precious few computer generated vistas to behold. And while there's no denying that the rock takes up a lot of space up on the big screen, it should be a question for debate on whether his personality is large enough to fill the void of lead star. While those special effects in the first two movies were pummeled by some critics as enough to overpower the characters, this film could have benefited from a few special effects laden shots in the face of a lead star whose main draw is in his appearance and not his acting ability. And while some may assert that The Rock has had more than enough training in the acting arts from his years in the WWF, a film is quite a different vehicle from the popular laugh and punch Smackdown. And without the plethora of self-deprecating humor that was rampant in the first two films, The Scorpion King asks the audience to take its events seriously.

Which is hard to do sometimes when given an extra helping of standard action film dialogue and protracted fight sequences. It's a given that the script is really secondary to the choreography of those battles, but those scenes sometimes extend for more than just a few minutes. The last battle, which is the climax of the film, runs a good twenty minutes. Various groups of the good guys (including an alchemist, a sorceress, the funny man, and a few other stock characters) run around Gomorrah (yes, Gomorrah) doing battle with the King's men in an almost comedic fashion, like chickens with their heads cut off. For fans of action, the downtime in this film is very limited. Those interested in mindless battles will be pleased. Many of the scenes begin to feel like the hundred years war after a few too many punches, kicks, and pile-drivers that The Rock has to overcome.

But with the overabundance of mediocrity surrounding this film, it's a minor miracle how entertaining the cast can be with their roles. The Rock is undeniably an entertaining person, and even though his sparse dialogue reminds one of the speechless performance of Sly Stallone in Judge Dredd, there are a few jokes sprinkled in there that have the ability to lift the film up off the dusty floor, if only for a few minutes. Michael Clarke Duncan infuses his supporting role with a good balance of comedy and dramatic entertainment. His dialogue, through no fault of his own, could have been constructed more intelligently, but given the rest of the performances in the film, Duncan did what he could with what he was given.

Kelly Hu was also impressive in her role, giving her scantily clad character the look and sound of intelligence without letting her lack of clothing get the better of her. It is a requirement in nearly all action films that the female role involve as little clothing is as possible for the actress to wear. And though that rule was taken to an extreme in this film, Kelly Hu's performance was strong enough to give her character a multi-dimensional feel. sSe wasn't just a cardboard cutout of a damsel in distress and even kicked a little butt here and there. And speaking of kicking butt, a group of The Rock's allies in the film were warriors played by a group of women whose talents extended beyond their looks. Though a group female action heroes wandering around the middle east was probably a slim possibility five thousand years ago (it was a little early for the Amazons, I believe), it was still entertaining in The Scorpion King to see that fight sequences were an equal opportunity employer.

A bit of casting that seems to have been more obvious than smart was in getting Steven Brand to play the Scorpion King's arch nemesis, "Memnon." It wasn't that his acting was off the mark, his performance was very credible, but his English accent (whether it's real or not is unknown...) seemed out of place with the rest of the characters in the film. In Hollywood pictures, it seems that evil characters can't be evil unless they possess English accents. While it's an absurd rule, it's one that's adhered to by nearly all of productions. If the rest of the cast had sported those same accents, or if the story had taken place in England, that accent would have been warranted. But that out-of-place accent is more of an annoyance than anything; Brand's performance mirrors what most of the cast was capable of: an entertaining one.

It is close to folly to expect this film to live up to it's predecessors, but given that the film isn't a straight sequel anyhow, The Scorpion King stands out as a movie more interested in bringing fun to the screen than in creating a movie known for its acumen. And there is nothing wrong with such a path; 2001's Jurassic Park 3 played the part of entertaining action movie quite admirably. One can only imagine what this film might have accomplished had the screenwriters and filmmakers been a little bit more discerning with their choices of dialogue. Of course, it stands to reason that they might have been deterred by what their lead star was able to accomplish dramatically.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.


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