If I were a studio exec trying to cast a major summer blockbuster,
Im pretty sure my first choice for a leading man wouldnt
be someone who actively and purposefully calls himself "The
Rock." Theres just an inherent wrongness to a person
who foregoes the accepted proper-noun labels we all know and
love in favor of a singular noun that represents an inanimate
object. And theres also the matter of having the word
"The" in your name which, unless youre a King
or an Earl, just makes you seem like an ass. Anyway, some
studio "brain" thought it would be simply aces to
cast The Rock, star of the World Wrestling Federation, in
a feature-length action blockbuster and the end result of
that little inspiration is The Scorpion King.
Here we have the story of wandering assassin, Mathaias (played
by The Rock), a last-of-his-kind type of fellow whod
whack his own mother if the price was right. Mathaias is hired
by a klatch of various leaders and kings to hunt down Memnon
(Brand), a ruthless warrior/tyrant who is determined to take
over everything and rule the world. They decide that the best
way to defeat Memnon is to kill his sorceress, Cassandra (Hu),
so the big guy goes barreling after her, and thus the plot
of the movie is born. As far as plots go, its fairly
standard and really, no fault here. However, the movie goes
wrong with just about everything else involved in the production,
so a decent story isnt really much help.
So how about that Rockexcuse me, The Rock. Is
he any good? Is he the next Arnold Schwarzenegger? Well, no
and yeah, probably. He makes Arnie look like a bottomless
reserve of emotional gravitas, which is a major feat. The
Rock has no acting ability, and I mean NONE. Its shocking
that a guy could spend as much time as he does immersed in
the fakery of the WWF and not pick up a few tips on producing
a convincing performance. I dont know much about his
wrestling persona, but Im quite certain that it is exactly
the same as whats up on screen in The Scorpion King.
Basically, he lumbers through most scenes like an oily Tor
Johnson with slightly better diction, taking a few minutes
here and there to participate in a poorly choreographed fight
scene. Granted, this is The Rocks first real movie (his
10 minutes in The Mummy Returns dont count).
Maybe hell get better as he continues to do the scads
of action movies that will unquestionably be thrown at him.
At this point, though, Id prefer the subtle charm and
mannered acting of Lou Ferigno to this lummox. As far as the
rest of the performances, no one makes much of an impression,
save for Kelly Hu as Cassandra. Dont get me wrong: Her
character is as wooden and lifeless as everyone elses,
but Hu lucks out by being what can only be described as a
But we cant blame the utter badness of this movie totally
on The Rock. No, there are a few more people who should be
lined up and Stooge-slapped and they are, in particular order:
Chuck Russell, the director of this whole mess. A long
time ago, Russell directed Nightmare On Elm Street 3,
which is widely considered to be one of the best of the series.
After that, he took a long slow nosedive through Hollywood,
directing such abysmal fare as Bless The Child, The
Mask, and Eraser. Clearly this dudes talents
dont lie behind the camera; it might be time to stop
giving him chances. That The Scorpion King is a clunky,
poorly-edited and, above all else, boring film, really stems
from Russells lack of skill and finesse. A better director
could have at least made this an entertaining popcorn film,
Steven Sommers, David Hayter, and William Osborne,
the screenwriters. Its not like theres ever been
a truly well-written Summer Blockbuster, but these guys werent
even trying. The dialogue is laughably bad, and thats
at its best. I spent more time cringing during this
movie than I have at any other point in my entire life. It
also distresses me that it took three writers to bang
out this script. I would say that this is a case of too many
cooks spoiling the soup, but the soup was pretty bad anyway.
This is a case of too many cooks making the soup worse.
The execs at Universal Studios who greenlighted this.
To be fair, this is going to make giant sackfuls of money.
The weight of the WWF fans alone should put this at the top
of the box office for weeks, so for the execs, this was probably
a brilliant business move. However, I include them on this
list because they were the ones who gave the initial "okay"
on this project. They must be rounded up and soundly chastised.
Possibly with sticks.
There are so many things that bother me about this movie,
its actually useless to continue, or well be here
all night. I know this is going to do booming business due
to The Rocks overwhelming and inexplicable popularity,
but I can only hope that audiences will come to their senses
before this hurts too many people. If my words have any weight
with any of you out there, please, dont see this movie.
It really is THAT bad.