Here’s something pointless but kind of fun nonetheless. Leagues better than The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, The Scorpion King has what its predecessors didn’t: a sense of humor, a burlesque visual palette, and at least half a dozen killer set pieces. Sure, the B-movie kitsch factor is sort of lost along the way but there’s something to be said about a film that ends with the Rock actively vying for Fabio’s place on your mother’s favorite harlequin romance novel. First the good: a catch-the-peasant-boy sequence that cutely engages silent film idiom; female-empowering battle sequences that negate all those scenes with the horny concubines; and the entire sandstorm/sandpit extravaganza (five good minutes in a 90-minute film counts big time). Even better is Kelly Hu’s Sorceress Cassandra, who straddles-before-healing and rises from baths with hair-strategically-covering-bosoms. Now the bad: the post-killing catch phrases (“You’re lucky we have the same mother”); the not-so-tongue-in-cheek wisdom (“Rivers of blood can never bring peace”); all the über-Greek family murders; and every scene with Grant Heslov. For every sweaty-skin moment, Heslov kills the mood with his look-I’m-a-dork-in-the-desert routine. “It’s good to be back in the big city,” says the “comedic sidekick” before sitting at the bar in Memnon’s Club Med palace. While the scorpion king pops Cassandra’s magical powers, Heslov discovers barstool humor: “It’s not the size of the hump, it’s the motion of the camel.” Oh brother.
- Chuck Russell
- David Hayter, William Osborne, Stephen Sommers
- The Rock, Steven Brand, Kelly Hu, Michael Clarke Duncan, Grant Heslov, Peter Facinelli, Ralph Moeller, Scott L. Schwartz, Andrei Sterling, Sherri Howard
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