Director: Chuck Russell
Starring: The Rock, Steven Brand, Kelly Hu, Grant Heslov
Kaboom Review Action Movie Rating: 94
An Arcadian assassin seeks revenge on an evil warlord whose armies are ravishing ancient Africa.
The Scorpion King greatly overcomes its bland script and mediocre acting. The film nails the key elements of a quality action film: great pacing, solid storytelling, beautiful women and handsome men, and a high level of entertaining action. I realize I am sure to get some raised eyebrows for my overall score on this review, but I have to be true to myself: I simply loved this film. I happily award the Scorpion King a Kaboom Review Gold Explosion Award for its enjoyable ride through a fantasy Egypt.
18 seconds into the Scorpion King, a throwing star gets planted into the forehead of an ugly barbarian: our first dead body. I believe this sets our record for earliest kill in a movie. More than that, it lets the viewer know that Scorpion King makes no pretenses to being something other than a pure action film. This movie oozes action from start to finish.
If you read the IMBD reviews, Scorpion King—the third film in the Mummy Trilogy—largely gets panned. Commenters rain criticism on the The Rock’s acting ability, the generic nature of the film, and its predictable outcome. While I can understand their criticism, I have to completely disagree with their evaluation of the movie. I found Scorpion King incredibly entertaining for a lot of reasons.
First and foremost, the plot and pacing in the movie are top notch. Sure, the story is a generic tale of swords and sorcery. However, the plot is tight and the story is constructed flawlessly. With the exception of an arrow shot early in the movie that sends a body flying about fifty feet, a rather absurd fight in a cave in the middle of a sandstorm, and some looseness in the ending, Scorpion King stays within its premise brilliantly. The editing and construction of this movie are meticulous. In the world of action movies, this alone deserves special commendation. Every scene advances the plot in logical ways. The action fits in with the story and makes sense.
Most of the fighting is done with swords, and there are few visual effects. However, the Scorpion King gets the fighting right. Battles are varied, creatively shot, perfectly timed, and engaging. Above average stunts and falls add some flare to the fighting yet never obstruct it. The final battle is particularly entertaining.
All of this action falls into the “light entertainment” category. There is little gore, battles stretch the limits of physics, heroes are nearly indestructible, and enemies quickly fall with one sword stroke. You could argue that this weakens the movie, but Scorpion King establishes this premise in the first five minutes and then sticks to it throughout the movie. If you accept this element of the movie, the action is a ton of fun.
Fitting in with this light entertainment angle of the film is the film’s ability to have fun with itself. Numerous scenes have a humorous touch to them. At times this is over the top, and none of it is tremendously creative, but the scenes move quickly and generally enhance the entertainment value of the film. In particular, Grant Heslov, as Mathayus the Scorpion King’s sidekick, adds a consistent if not overdone bit of comic relief.
Further driving up this film’s score is its babes and hunks rating. Kelly Hu, as the sorceress, is as hot as the desert the film is shot in. And the director takes full advantage of the hot set, as he sees fit to dress her in skimpy clothing for entire film. Kudos to action films shot in warm places! Hu alone drives the babe rating of the film high, but the peripheral women are equally enticing. As for the hunk rating, The Rock, who plays the lead role of Mathayus, and Steven Brand, who plays the evil Memnom, get this film solid ratings in this department.
The film, however, does have its glaring weaknesses. The script is dry, uninspiring, and transparent. There is nothing noteworthy or memorable in the dialog. The acting quality ranges all over the place. Many reviews slam The Rock’s acting ability, and there are clearly places where he appears wooden and mechanical. On the whole however, he’s not as bad as many make him out to be, and at times he captures the mood of his character fairly well. Elsewhere, Kelly Hu does a good job as the sorceress. I found Steven Brand convincing and solid in his role as the villain. There rest of the cast get the job done, but add little to the film’s value.
One may also consider the film’s dubious interpretation of history a problem. I never took the film seriously in this regard, so I had little problem forgiving the film for its historical inaccuracies.
In conclusion, the Scorpion King greatly overcomes its bland script and mediocre acting. The film nails the key elements of a quality action film: great pacing, solid storytelling, beautiful women and handsome men, and a high level of entertaining action. I realize I am sure to get some raised eyebrows for my overall score on this review, but I have to be true to myself: I simply loved this film. I happily award the Scorpion King a Kaboom Review Gold Explosion Award for its enjoyable ride through a fantasy Egypt.
The Rock received $5.5 million for the lead in this movie, which made him the highest paid first time lead ever.
Consistent Premise: 82
Body Count: 88
Time to First Dead Body: 18 seconds
Visual Effects: 23
Overall: 94 (Kaboom Review Gold Medal Award)