Until now, the action movie industry has been dominated by marble mouthed Neanderthals and big muscled foreigners. But The Scorpion King offers something different… an action star who can speak English!
The Scorpion King stars WWF wrestlter Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as Mattias, the last of a race of highly skilled warrior assassins. When his brother is murdered by a conquering warlord, Mattias throws in with his enemies to stop the would-be conqueror from enslaving the land.
Set in ancient, pre-Egyptian times, The Scorpion King features a stunning array of desert vistas and vintage city-state civilizations… or at least it tries to. But every attempt at some semblance of tangible antiquity is repeatedly thwarted by giant fake boobs and weirdly false looking sets. It’s not that they’ve overused cgi to construct special effects as so many movies have done before. Instead it is as if someone decided to simply buy all the leftover sets from TV’s Xena: Warrior Princess and throw them in a sandbox, complete with big busted action figures and plastic poseable camels.
But, the only real reason for this film’s existence is “The Rock” himself, presented in all his sweaty, big muscled glory. Sadly, his acting ability is no greater than that of other kick-ass action stars, the only difference being that he lacks an accent or speech impediment with which to cover his theatrical flaws. I can’t say “The Rock” doesn’t have talent. His facial expressions are priceless; and there are few things I’ve enjoyed more in recent months than watching him struggle to look cool while racing across the desert astride an unruly camel. Yet without an inability to speak the English language to mask his foibles, “The Rock’s” acting is even more disconcerting than that of his similarly untalented contemporaries.
So what! This isn’t supposed to be Oscar fodder so why am I complaining? Much like Arnold’s Conan The Barbarian series, The Scorpion King could care less what you think of its dialogue. From start to finish, it’s sword clashing, fist fighting, blood thirsty battle… minus the blood (PG-13 after all!). Throw in a hot babe, continually on the verge of being naked and generally you have a formula for success. Scorpion King even managed to add in the always engaging Michael Clark Duncan, just for a little extra umpf! Yes, the choreography is capable and the fight scenes enjoyable. Still, there was little here that we haven’t seen time and time again before. “The Rock” made the right choice, staying away from his WWF wrestling moves, in this his first feature film. However, the people picking out what he WOULD do really needed to put a little more innovation into their craft to really give this film the exciting action punch it really deserves.
Frankly, pretty much everything in this film was blatantly stolen from somewhere else. When it wasn’t photo-copying Conan, Scorpion King is busy plugging away sneaking in plotlines, scenes, and even generic dialogue from other Hollywood action movies. Even the score is nothing but a cheap rip-off, completely lacking in any theme or even consistency as the music swirls from classical, ambiguous score to hardcore techno-rock and back again in an ever confusing and easily forgotten dance of audio incongruity.
I’d love to give The Scorpion King a pass as worthy popcorn fun prequel to the highly entertaining Mummy series, but it really is nothing of the sort. Even “The Rock” deserved a little better in his first outing. I just hope he gets another chance, maybe in an action-comedy… he seems to have a flair for comedic timing. If he’s smart, next time “The Rock” will throw some pebbles in his mouth.