Scorpion in need of a Stinger
"The Scorpion King" is what I would call a testing the water movie, to see if Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson having made his name in wrestling and had a role in "The Mummy Returns" could lead a movie. And it's not just a testing the water movie to see if Johnson could lead a movie but to see if audiences wanted another muscle bound action star giving us a CGI enhanced take on the action of the 80s. As such whilst Johnson returns to his character of Mathayus, which he played in "The Mummy Returns", "The Scorpion King" is certainly not a swashbuckling adventure movie in the same light. This is simple action where we have muscle, a beautiful woman, plenty of fighting and CGI as well as an obligatory comedy sidekick. It sort of works, it sort of entertains and Johnson sort of delivers a reasonable action hero performance, well considering his limited movie experience prior to this, but none of it is that different to what had been done before and certainly nothing more than averagely entertaining.
Before the pyramids King Memnon (Steven Brand) is forcing his way across country creating a massive empire as he defeats the last of the independent tribes with the help of a Sorceress (Kelly Hu) whose premonitions help lead to his success. With Memnon's forces growing rapidly the remaining free tribes hire Mathayus (Dwayne Johnson - Get Smart) to kill the Sorceress in the hope that they then stand a chance in battle. But things don't go to plan when Mathayus infiltrates the King's palace and finds himself with some unlikely allies as he ends up going after Memnon for killing his brother.
So as already pointed out, whilst we may have a movie built around Mathayus who we met in "The Mummy Return" there is little else to connect it to those swashbuckling archaeological adventures. Instead we have a rather ordinary story of a tyrant king and his army taking over land with the help of a sorceress whose premonitions make him unstoppable. Except of course we have the hero in Mathayus whose job it is to stop him from completely taking over. It's simple and whilst we may get a couple of twists and turns as Mathayus is initially meant to kill the sorceress but then goes after the King there is little which will tax your brains.
But in many ways this simple storyline isn't an issue, oh a bit more originality wouldn't go a miss, but this is the sort of easy to follow storyline which audiences seem to want. What that really means is that "The Scorpion King" ends up about two things, the CGI enhanced action and the muscle bound physique of Dwayne Johnson. Now in fairness the CGI enhanced action, the seemingly epic deserts and cities are impressive although again there is nothing here which hasn't been seen before. It sort of lacks that wow factor which this sort of movie needs to keep you entertained.
Then there is of course Dwayne Johnson whose sheer physique does have the wow factor and in the countless fight scenes and there are a lot, he looks impressive. The fights may at times look a little too choreographed but watching him swing a sword or pull back on his bow does highlight his credentials for being a modern muscle bound action hero. But then there are times it plays to much on the character which Johnson built as a wrestler and those eye brow raises end up being a little corny as does the fact he is a nice guy to children despite supposedly being an assassin. It almost a case that the character is a bit wrong but Johnson's sheer physique and whole hearted performance carries him through.
So much focus is on Dwayne Johnson as Mathayus that whilst there is Steven Brand as the evil Memnon, Kelly Hu as the sexy Sorceress and Michael Clarke Duncan as the equally muscle bound Balthazar none of them really make a huge impression. Most of which is down to the fact we have a bunch of cliche characters, text book villains and good guys which can be found in any other similar adventure movie.
What this all boils down to is that "The Scorpion King" is entertaining and Dwayne Johnson does fill a gap for a new muscle bound action hero but none of it is that original or memorable. And probably the most disappointing thing is that with this being basically a spin-off from "The Mummy" series it ends up having nothing to do with them except the character of Mathayus.