Can you smell what “The Scorpion King” is cooking?

Ted Pigeon

I went into “The Scorpion King” not expecting much at all. Since it is a spin-off of the popular “Mummy” series, I figured that this movie couldn’t be exceptional, especially since there is more unoriginality in the two “Mummy” films than almost an entire summer of blockbusters. Upon stumbling into the lobby after this 88-minute movie was over, I realized that it wasn’t all that bad, except for the fact that there is not one original element about it. Furthermore, every character and plot element is predictable and clichéd beyond belief, the fight scenes are all the same and the script is horrendously bad. This means that the movie can, in fact, provide escapist entertainment for an hour and a half, yet one thing that may hold you back from appreciating it is the fact that everything about the movie is so atrociously bad.

The Rock plays the title character, whose actual name is Mathayus, a ruthless assassin who works for money. He is hired to disable Memnon, an evil tyrant, by assassinating his seer/sorceress Cassandra. It is Cassandra who unwillingly enables him to crush armies so effectively. Mathayus decides to kidnap the seductive sorceress instead and then launches an offensive on Memnon and his fortress. You can guess how it ends. Evidently, the story is worn out and recycled and by now seems terribly dull. To add to that is the lazy, yet hasty, direction by Chuck Russell, who seems to be bored himself with some of the material at times.

Despite being a less than mediocre actor, The Rock is a joy to watch on the screen in a role that suits him perfectly. The character is poorly written, and The Rock doesn’t bring physique to the role either. However, he does bring a presence, similar to the presence Arnold Schwarzenneger brought to his roles in the ’80s. With the exception of the running time, The Rock is the only remote reason for seeing this movie, because he is quite funny. Though his camel, which Mathayus calls “his ride” in a time long before the existence of pyramids, is by far the best character in the movie.

“The Scorpion King” has all the elements that one might expect to find in this type of movie, but I guess since my expectations were so incredibly low, I was quite surprised and amused at how entertaining it actually was. Do not misinterpret this though. “The Scorpion King” is far from a good movie. If meriting a movie for its ability to entertain makes sense, then I recommend this movie on those grounds; however, it is in that context alone that it can be admired.