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THE SCORPION KING starts with Mathayus, his brother and a friend, three surviving Akkadians, brutally destroying a Viking village in a violent, action-packed three minutes of senselessness. Mathayus gets on the bad side of King Memnon, an Egyptian-like ruler who reigns over the ancient city of Gomorroh (remember the city God destroyed in the Bible). One adventure leads to another, Memnon’s sorceress falls for Mathayus, and Mathayus and his friends do battle with hordes of Memnon’s followers.
THE SCORPION KING is a little less than a paint-by-numbers plot. Less in that there’s no real character arc and no rhyme or reason to the plot. It is CONAN without the scripting. The adventures are fabricated to complement the special effects. As Mathayus, The Rock has a couple good poses, but needs much more in the way of acting classes before he does another movie. There are very few moral elements in THE SCORPION KING. Wine and sex flow easily, as does blood and conquest. This is a world where Darwin’s survival of the fittest applies. The Rock wins by brute force and perhaps with a little help from his friend, the occult sorceress
(PaPa, B, OO, FR, L, VVV, SS, NN, A, M) Very confused pagan worldview, with bare minimum of moral content, occultism underlies major story and prayers to false gods; 2 obscenities; extremely excessive violence though not much blood which may be worse for young children who think they can copy these sword fights with impunity includes man gets star embedded in his forehead, limbs hacked off, decapitations, son holds up father’s decapitated head, one tribe slaughters another, lots of falling from great heights, drowning, consumed by sand, being blown to oblivion, stabbings, attack by snakes, beatings, arrows, spearings, castrated by antlers on candelabra, and being buried alive and attacked by fire ants; lots of sexual innuendo with prostitutes and later a harem telling the hero they will show him a good time; the sorceress straddles the hero in a manner that made the audience titter, and several group sex scenes but nothing displayed; several scenes of nudity, woman emerges from bath and her hair barely covers her private parts, many extremely revealing clothes, upper male nudity; alcohol use; no smoking; and, stealing and gambling.
A lot of money went into the design of THE SCORPION KING, but even with such lavish sets, scenes and special effects, the audience laughed at the movie, not with it, at several points. Why? Because the script was thinner than a bad comic book! In fact, the distributor gave out a comic book that may have contained more than the whole script, where the dialogue was punctuated by such wonderful dialogue as “Yip,” and “aha.” Take the modern MUMMY movies and remove the American archeologist and his moral sensibilities and what’s left is THE SCORPION KING.
The movie starts with Mathayus, his brother and a friend, three surviving Akkadians, brutally destroying a Viking village in a violent, action-packed three minutes of senselessness. Cut to Mathayus entering the camp of a ragtag group representing the remnants of various racial and ethnic hordes. The white haired leader says they need to work together. The black Balthazar, played by Michael Clarke Duncan, says he’ll never work with the Akkadians , who are trained assassins. The leader gets everyone to agree to hire Mathayus and the Akkadians to kill the sorceress who gives victory to the evil King Memnon.
In the next scene, the three Akkadians are attacking the Egyptian-like outpost of King Memnon, who seems like a wimp but has a reputation for being a great warrior. Soon, it is discovered that Mathayus and his friends were betrayed by the son of the white-haired leader of the remnant hordes. To prove his loyalty, the son cuts off his father’s head and presents it to King Memnon. Memnon defeats Mathayus, but the sorceress has her eyes on him and tells the king not to kill him with his own hands. So, the king buries Mathayus alive with his head sticking out so fire ants can devour his head. Mathayus is buried next to a thief who escapes and rescues Mathayus. They in turn go back into the city.
Along the way, they meet a little boy, who is a thief, and Mathayus is propositioned by prostitutes. They meet the court scientist who is inventing gunpowder. Mathayus ends up in the harem, where another group of scantily glad girls proposition him en masse. Eventually, Mathayus captures the sorceress, and they escape to the desert.
Memnon sends his best troops to recapture the Mathayus and the sorceress. People are slaughtered. Life and death battles take place, which resemble a cross between World Wide Wrestling, all too familiar to the star of the movie, The Rock, and lightweight Errol Flynn antics.
One adventure leads to another. Mathayus is wounded by an arrow dipped in scorpion blood. The sorceress mounts him and performs mouth-to-mouth resuscitation in a scene so silly that the audience broke out into laughter. Eventually, they work their way back to the City of Gomorrah, as in Sodom and Gomorrah, where Mathayus overthrows Memnon and becomes the Scorpion King.
THE SCORPION KING is a little less than a paint-by-numbers plot. Less in that there’s no real character arc, and there’s no rhyme or reason to the plot. It is CONAN without the scripting. Adventures are fabricated to complement the special effects.
The Rock has a couple of good poses, but needs much more in the way of acting classes before he does another movie. Steven Brand as King Memnon is a fairly good actor, but he looks like he has no muscles at all. In fact, he looks like he wouldn’t stand up for a second against The Rock.
One of the stranger things about the movie is how it jumps locations from a Viking village to Egypt to Gomorrah, and The Rock is only riding a camel. The ethnic diversity is also perplexing at a time in history when these groups were isolated by geography.
It is clear that THE SCORPION KING is intended as a popcorn movie and will probably do well at the box office, but a little more substance would have been a great virtue. There are very few moral elements in the movie. Wine and sex flow easily, as does blood and conquest. This is a world where Darwin’s survival of the fittest applies. As soon as The Rock disposes of King Memnon, all of King Memnon’s evil hordes who were hacking up The Rock’s friends bow down and choose him as their next king. He did not attain this position through decency, honor, good looks, or intelligence. He wins by brute force and perhaps with a little help from his friend, the occult sorceress.
Although often the script discusses the occult and worship of other gods, these things were minor elements. However, the sorceress did have the ability to see the future and the movie convincingly portrayed this ability in a way that susceptible children might think that it’s available to everyone.
The worst part, however, was the violence. It looked too much like fun. From backyard wrestling groups to private high schools, young children are emulating this type of violence. My sons tell me that this type of fighting, in a more real sense than that of their parents or grandparents, is “in” these days, and the type of fighting we’re talking about actually gets people hurt.
This movie could have been restructured as a fine adventure yarn. Thus, MOVIEGUIDE®’s recommendation is to rent INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE or FIRST KNIGHT instead, which hava more moral virtues and a better storyline.
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