I’m usually not one to enjoy spin-off films for beloved franchises. There are so many Star Wars spin-offs, so many spin-offs for Star Trek, Narnia, Marvel films, DC films, Fast and Furious films, and even Madagascar received spin-offs! There’s something such as ‘too much saturation’ for a franchise, and I’m not a big fan of that. It takes away from the beauty of the original films, and it often portrays the characters in different ways from the original, breaking continuity. This is exactly the case with The Scorpion King, a spin-off of The Mummy Returns, set thousands of years ago in Ancient Egypt.
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The Movie Review
Memnon and his wicked army are marching through the lands, and so Mathayus and his people must contend with this dangerous enemy. Mathayus – who is a legendary warrior – was sent to kill Memnon, but he loses his chance as he is compelled to save a child over assassinating his target. However, he manages to kidnap Memnon’s sorceress Cassandra, whom he is also supposed to kill and flees the city before making his way into the desert. He intends to use Cassandra to lure Memnon out of the protection of his devoted city and into the desert, where he will be more exposed and simpler to kill, deep in the Valley of the Dead.
I’ll start this off by stating that I’m a tad confused by this film. The Scorpion King is portrayed in The Mummy Returns as some kind of wicked King who wants to rule the world by destroying every civilization that stands in his way. However, that same character in his own movie does the exact opposite. In fact, he fights to remove a Tyrant for those precise reasons. So, when and why did he become the villainous Scorpion King we know from The Mummy Returns? I’m sorry, but I don’t quite understand the lack of continuity, I thought spin-off films were to fill the gaps rather than create more.
Nevertheless, even though it’s brief and goofy, the film is quite enjoyable. Director Chuck Russell has tried his hardest to pack as much violence and action as he can into this wannabe blockbuster, and that suits me just fine! This film is a proper fast-food meal, with fries and soft drinks included rather than a multi-course meal with many ingredients and layers. It’s a precursor to a sequel to a film that itself was a remake of a 1930s film, so there’s not much direction of where they want to take this story anyways. It’s supposed to be a fun ride in all its glory.
From start to finish, The Scorpion King is an exhilarating ride through action, adventure, mystery, romance, and classic Hollywood charm. It is exactly what you would expect from a clichéd Hollywood movie, but it is a genuine adrenaline rush with actually decent performances from Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Steven Brand, Kelly Hu, Michael Clarke Duncan, and Grant Heslov. They don’t do any Oscar-winning work, but for an early 2000s blockbuster film, the cinemagoers at the time were eating well.
There’s a lot to like about this film visually, there are lots of practical shots that were all done on location rather than using a green screen. However, I will be honest, the CGI in this film has aged just as badly as the CGI in The Mummy Returns. Sure, they were great when they first came out, but they have aged quite horrendously now and it’s kind of daunting to look at them.
The movie’s integrity is a little bit worse than that of the Mummy films. This is clear from John Debney’s vibrant and entertaining but wholly inappropriate soundtrack for The Scorpion King. I didn’t expect anything as grand or middle-eastern as his score for The Passion of the Christ, but loud death metal drumming and guitar riffs feel a very out of line in a movie set in 3000 BC Egypt.
Overall, the tale is really unimpressive and uninspired, but the abundance of adrenaline-fueled action, lots of suspense, interesting characters with intriguing motivations, and a whole lot of fun make it quite the watch. It is definitely entertaining enough to please the ordinary moviegoer, but it may also be one of the more underrated action movies from the 2000s. It’s only a SOLID action movie that you can genuinely enjoy; it’s by no means a classic. Though, I have to admit that the fact that it violates the continuity with The Mummy Returns kind of puts me off from liking it more.
- The film is super entertaining, lots of action and violent fantasies
- The characters are interesting, and well-acted too
- The film is visually impressive, but the CGI is outdated now
- The overall setting is quite well produced
- The story is a bit lackluster
- The music is super underwhelming
- The CGI was bland even at the time, but it’s much more daunting to look at now