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April 2002: The Scorpion King - CinemaDave

May. 12th, 2005 12:01 pm April 2002: The Scorpion King

For many years, the Summer movie season used to start on Memorial Day Weekend. In more recent years, the cinema season has been starting earlier and earlier. With "The Scorpion King"s 36 million dollar box office record this weekend, the 2002 Summer movie season has begun in April.

"The Scorpion King" is a spinoff from the successful "Mummy" franchise from Universal pictures. This new film captures the spirit of those old Saturday matinee serials with modern day special effects. Best known for directing Jim Carrey in "The Mask'" Chuck Russell seems right at home directing professional wrestling's leading man known as The Rock.

The Rock portrays Mathayus, a successful assassin assigned to kill the sorceress of the evil warlord Memnon (Steven Brand). Memnon is seeking Middle Eastern domination by expelling the nomadic tribes of the fertile crescent that is now known as Iraq. After witnessing the sorceress (Kelly Hu) in the bathtub (shades of David and Bathsheba), Mathayus falls in love and seeks to overthrow the evil Memnon. Along the way, Mathayus is poisoned by Scorpion Blood and makes an uneasy alliance with Big Bad Bathazar (Michael Clarke Duncan).

"The Scorpion King" is a typical mythical hero with modern day revisions. Whereas Roy Rogers had Trigger, The Rock has a smart camel. Trade George "Gabby" Hayes for Grant Heslov and "The Scorpian King" has the feel of an old B Western. The film suffers from swordplay overkill. The final showdown occurs at night and it is hard to discriminate the difference between the good guys and the bad guys. The action happens so fast and furious, that it looks fake after a while.

Nonetheless, "The Scorpion King" is a hard film to dislike and seems well intentioned. The Rock (a.k.a Dwayne Johnson) seems ready to accept the action baton from Arnold Schwarzengger. The Rock is surprisingly good in quiet scenes. Kelly Hu has Maid Marion chemistry and Michael Clarke Duncan assumes the Little John role to The Rock's Robin Hood. "The Scorpion King" has the potential to be an interesting new franchise for Universal Pictures.

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