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Movie Reviews: The Scorpion King + 3 others

The Scorpion King (2002)
This launched Dwayne Johnson as a movie star when he was still using his pro-wrestling ring name of The Rock. It also spawned 3 sequels. It is set in 3000 BC and was directed by Chuck Russell. This is a prequel to the ‘Mummy’ movies and centres on the villain from ‘The Mummy Returns’ identical grandfather. Johnson, Kelly Hu, the late Michael Clarke Duncan, Bernard Hill, Grant Heslov, Steven Brand and Ralf Moeller star. This was promoted by a making of programme on TV, poster, 2 magazines and a novelisation.

People are somehow surprised that our hero Mathayus (Johnson) rides a camel in the desert. Mathayus is all thick neck, bug eyes and gurning. He has a bone to pick with evil warlord Memnon (Brand) and Nubian warrior (Duncan). This is before the time of the pyramids and the last of the free tribes stand against the evil Memnon and his sorcerer. Mathayus’ doomed brother is played by Branscombe Richmond from ‘Renegade’.

Various characters run around. Arpid (Heslov) is the comedy sidekick, Thorak (Moeller) is Memnon’s bodyguard, King Pheron (Roger Rees) is doomed, Queen Isis (Sherri Howard) is an Amazon and Pheron’s evil traitor son Takmet (Peter Facinelli of ‘Twilight’, ‘Supergirl’ and ‘Nurse Jackie’) has nasty drawn on facial hair and annoys. People bluster and beat on each other. There are 20 blood rubies that are forgotten about. Arpid gets punched in the face a lot. There is betrayal, death and a fire ant attack.

There is comedy, action, bad wigs, a bizarre mix of accents, leather underpants, magic and the sorceress (Hu) wears gold nail polish and is named Cassandra. Memnon rants about his 1000 year rule. This was shot in California and the local market has very glam hookers. Memnon shows off his arrow catching skills whilst an irritating kid and a mad inventor (Hill) lurk. Everyone is caked in fake tan. There is a catapult and a harem Memnon never visits. The two are linked. The sorceress bathes in her rose petal bathtub. Takmet hangs around Memnon’s palace and in the climax, he apparently wears chain mail.

Memnon and his militarist philosophy must be defeated so the heroes combine (eventually) to take him on. This film has subtextual nostalgia for sword and sandal epics. This has no intricacies just gentle non-engagement with reality. Memnon’s many tall lurking heavies are defeated. The brand defining actor (Johnson) was not in the 3 sequels. The gravely voiced Balthazar growls and Memnon comes to a thankless glory free end.

There is muttering about destiny and reckoning. All the awful people die. Cassandra has on and off steely competency. This does not lend any resonance to anything and is not a brilliant or exciting story. It also lacks pithy dialogue but it is still utterly absorbing and immersive. Memnon faces predicable negative consequences for his grotesque behaviour. There is no virtuosity or verbosity. There is heroic music, wooden acting and Mathayus and his band of followers fight while gurning. Johnson’s acting wasn’t exactly subtle or skilled at this point. Cassandra wears metallic thong underwear as clothes. There are endless fights. Was there steel in 3000 BC? Where did the cobra go? This has a British villain, a hot chick, Dwayne Johnson, a happy ending and stuff blowing up. This was good and then the end credits roll and Godsmack screech I Stand Alone over them. Shut up Godsmack.

Best Lines:
“He still swept across the land like a plague.”

“I thought they were wiped out long ago.”

“Feast on our naked heads.”

“Die a horrible death.”

“Drinking that yak piss.”

“After a hard day of looting and pillaging, there is no greater city than Gomorrah. Except maybe Sodom.”

“They’ve got the city sealed up tighter than a crab’s buttocks.”

“Nobody goes to the Valley Of The Dead! That’s why they call it The Valley Of The Dead!”

“I’m not without my wiles.”

“Who dies first?”

“I see your fate hollow king and its time has come.”

“Catch this.”

“Don’t forget how you got here.”

“Nothing lasts forever my King.”

By Dawn’s Early Light (1991)
This is an okay TV movie about a catastrophically escalating nuclear war with a memorable ending.

Winter’s Bone (2010)
People with no purpose or self worth have miserable lives. Survival is premised on an ability to tell lies. This was dull but gave Jennifer Lawrence’s career an appropriate sturdy foundation.

Best Line:
“He ain’t anywhere.”

A Passage To India (1984)
Tags: movie review, supergirl

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