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Click for full sized poster

The Scorpion King

Starring The Rock, Steven Brand, Kelly Hu, Grant Heslov and Michael Clarke Duncan
Screenplay by Stephen Sommers and William Osborne and David Hayter
Directed by Chuck Russell

IN SHORT: Live Free. Buy a lot of popcorn with gloopy golden stuff. Die Well. [Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action violence and some sensuality. 97 minutes]

Of the legendary tribe of Akkadian assassins, only three are left, and two of those three will be meat within the first few minutes of The Scorpion King, which spins off the popular character created by WWF wrestler The Rock (click for StarTalk) in the pair of The Mummy movies. Be warned: that great special effect, in which the King is sliced by a sword and falls apart into a teeming mass of scorpions, is not seen in in the film. Pity. Some killer CGI could have been just the ticket to kick this film up into the box office stratosphere. [If you want your choice of a whole mess of wallpapers from the film, click here]

This be the tale of the Scorpion King, a Man of Legend whose feats are many. He's kind to kids. He has a trusty, white camel that comes when whistled for. He is an ace bowman, is pretty good with throwing knives and doesn't have to do the martyr shtick to land a virgin (one, not seventy-two. He's not greedy, either). The King's favorite Indiana Jones movie is The Temple of Doom, for reasons which will become apparent when you see The Scorpion King, one big floppy comic book of a movie that was fun enough and/or dumb enough that the teenkids in our audience wouldn't shut their flaps. A sure sign of a demographic hit, regardless of whether or not the movie is any damned good, as in fun. Fun, it is, though deep down in our guts we get the feeling that there's probably a more violent and gore filled R rated version just begging for a special edition floppy disk release.

We say that because the entire movie has the feel of a lot of action scenes slapped together, and barely holding a story that goes from point A to point B. The Scorpion King is nothing more than a roller coaster of a popcorn flick, way too violent for single digit kidlets and entertaining for those older. All that's missing is the cheering of the crowd when the end credits roll. That cheering is missing because, frankly, action alone ain't enough to earn the raves. But it is enough to keep you happy for an hour and a half or so.

In a time when Babylonians and Assyrians were still players, the vicious ruler of most of the civilized world, Memnon (Steven Brand) has come to prominence with the help of a Sorcerer who can correctly predict the outcome of every battle he fights. The surviving Akkadians, led by Mathayus (The Rock) are hired to assassinate the Sorcerer by a coalition of independent tribes. Once within the city of Gomorrah, they are betrayed and defeated and shocked to discover that the powerful sorcerer is a beautiful woman named Cassandra (Kelly Hu). Condemned to death in the desert, next to a horse thief (Grant Heslov) who will latched on to whatever passed for coattails in those days, the Akkadian will escape danger, steal the girl, battle and befriend rivals (Michael Clarke Duncan) and prepare for the ultimate smackdown, one which the sorceress has predicted he will not win.

Well, there's always a first time for infallible predictions to go belly up.

We forgot to mention Amazons and all the other episodic like scenes that kill time. There's plenty to keep us entertained but nothing thrilling enough that we want to see Part Two. The Rock has a great presence but one battle after another is not the same as one battle followed by killer CGI effects. Munch a bunch of popcorn, check overly large expectations at the door and you'll get all you pay for.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Scorpion King, he would have paid . . .


The Scorpion King is perfectly in keeping with what used to be called B movies that filled theaters in the hot days of summer (it's not summer, but it is 92 degrees on the other side of our air conditioner as we write, so close enough....) and kept viewers occupied while waiting for the movies that made them want to get back on line for another go.

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The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.