[NOTE: A couple of days ago I received a nasty message from an individual I’m acquainted with who suggested I review films that people actually watch. It was obvious this person does not read my blog and his criticism was probably based on the recent 1950’s sci-fi movies I recently reviewed. I just want to state that I don’t review films based on what I think people want to read about. My choice of films is based simply on what I watch. With that said, the following review of The Scorpion King was not selected to appease this asshole of an individual. I happened to have seen it recently and I want to share my thoughts on it with you.]

To think that Universal actually expected The Scorpion King to establish The Rock as the next Sly, Arnold, or Bruce. HA! The Scorpion King is a perfect example of studio executive/marketing-controlled filmmaking. The film contains nothing original, exciting, or remotely interesting. It is a massive heap of garbage and a waste of money, talent (well, talent is kind of questionable), and, most importantly, the audience’s time.

The Scorpion King was The Rock’s introduction to Hollywood. After a massively successful stint as a WWF wrestler, The Rock decided to become a movie star. At the time, Hollywood’s existing action stars were aging and no longer able to impress audiences like the way they used to. Enter The Rock. Not only did he have the physique of Arnold, but he was attractive to the ladies and he had a good sense of humor that audiences could appreciate. For Universal Studios, having The Rock star in a Conan-like movie that was a spin-off of a very successful film franchise (The Mummy series) was probably a no-brainer. However, instead of giving audiences something to remember for years (as Conan the Barbarian did), The Scorpion King ended up being completely unmotivated and formulaic.

As far as the plot goes, The Rock plays an Akkadian assassin who sets forth to defeat Memnon (Steven Brand), an Alexander the Great-like conqueror whose war path threatens The Rock and the peoples inhabiting the region (I assume The Middle East). To defeat Memnon, The Rock kidnaps Memnon’s sorceress (Kelly Hu), who is integral to Memnon’s success by foreseeing the future for him. As is expected, The Rock falls in love with the sorceress and they along with the natives of the region gang up to take out Memnon and his armies.

I actually have nothing against The Rock. He certainly does make perfect action hero material (see The Rundown for an example of how to correctly use The Rock). In fact, The Scorpion King had a promising idea for a kick-ass movie and as bad as the resulting film is, The Rock is far from being the worst aspect of the movie. His acting range is extremely limited and this is quite apparent in watching the movie. The filmmakers no doubt noticed this as well because they don’t give him many lines to speak and instead focus on his action stunts. However, he does have charisma and a fun sense of humor that appeals him to general audiences.

The Scorpion King is a perfect example of a film thats specifically packaged to make money. A bunch of studio executives probably got together and said The Mummy is making us an ass-load of money and there’s this wrestler who would make a perfect action star so lets make a spin-off franchise and mint us more money. Films like this don’t allow for visionary directors to get in the way, which is why it was directed by a hack named Chuck Russell and written and produced by Stephen Sommers. These type of movies piss me off more than anything because they don’t respect their audience.

If you put a metronome next to your TV screen, you can predictably count off, beat by beat, the next point in the story (if you can even call it a story). Every cliche in the book is present in The Scorpion King as if the filmmakers were scared to put anything original or unique in it for fear of alienating their audience. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the Conan stunt show at Universal Studios (I don’t even know if its still there), but this is what this film reminded me of. Character development is completely ignored and replaced with one action sequence after another. Its a action spectacle and not a very good one at that.

By the way, why does every period villain have a British accent? The Memnon character has many things not going for him, mainly that he’s nothing more than a one-dimensional shallow cardboard cutout of a villain. However, to add annoyance upon annoyance, he also sports a British accent presumably to make him sound more sinister and cunning. Since we’re on a character assassination binge, Kelly Hu was another waste of celluloid space. I’ve never been impressed by her (lack of) talent, even in the entertaining X-Men 2. She’s there only for her looks and nothing more. Here, she is barely even able to muster a smile or any other human expression. Putting a mannequin in her place would have achieved the same effect and probably would have been cheaper too.

In all fairness, I was not a fan of The Mummy movies and I know many of you probably were based on the huge box office numbers those movies generated. If you like The Mummy, chances are you may sort of enjoy The Scorpion King. Both have the same tongue-in-cheek, comic book action and humor. However, any way you cut it, this is a car accident of a film that I couldn’t recommend even if my life depended on it.

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