‘The Scorpion King’ Blu-ray Review
‘The Scorpion King’ is one of those films that you either love or hate, and trust me; there is no in-between with this one. I am not too sure why there is so much hate for ‘The Scorpion King’. This film is nowhere near in the same league as ‘The Mummy’ and ‘The Mummy Returns’, but as a film that is a spin-off ‘The Mummy’ franchise this isn’t that bad and I have seen much worse. While I would have used a completely different directorial team for this one, they did get the job done.
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson stars as Mathayus whom is an assassin and would become ‘The Scorpion King’. The film begins with Mathayus having been hired to kill the beautiful sorceress Cassandra (Kelly Hu). Things aren’t all rosy for Mathayus as he has to save his people from the King Memnon (Stephen Brand). As ‘The Mummy’ franchise borrows a lot from the ‘Indiana Jones’ films, ‘The Scorpion King’ borrows a lot from the Conan films. While ‘The Scorpion King’ isn’t anywhere in the same league as Conan, it is a fun filled action film that expands the ‘The Mummy’ universe further. Michael Clarke Duncan also plays in the film as tribal leader Balthazar. Duncan is a good actor having played all kinds of roles over the last few years and is a nice addition to the cast.
At the time, Johnson was still in his early days of acting and he pulls all the punches to make Mathayus a believable character. Dwayne Johnson is one of the saving graces of the film as he was able to adjust his acting emotions fairly well throughout the different scenes. Johnson has many one liners, but it would have been safe to have given him more dialogue.
The one area where ‘The Scorpion King’ falls a bit flat has to do with directing of the film. The atmosphere borders an a/b-movie feel to it which hurts the film a little bit, especially the beginning sequence with that mix of rock/tribal music playing throughout. My problem with the film overall is that they should have cast another A-list actor/actress or two around Dwayne Johnson and things could have flowed much better. Considering that the ‘The Scorpion King’ made $165 million dollars overall, that is a pretty good feat.
Universal is releasing their third Blu-ray movie with the ‘The Mummy’ movies this week. It looks like Universal took the HD DVD version and ported it over to Blu-ray, unlike ‘The Mummy’ and ‘The Mummy Returns’ which received new transfers. That is ok since the HD DVD version was no slouch either. The transfer looks pristine and in some of the scenes with the CGI, you can see the fine details in the environment. The CGI can also be a hindrance here in ‘The Scorpion King’ due to it not being on par with the quality of both ‘The Mummy’ movies. On the audio front, we get a nice upgrade over the HD DVD with DTS-HD Lossless Master Audio versus the Dolby Digital Plus mix for the HD DVD. Having DTS-HD makes a huge difference with an action heavy film like ‘The Scorpion King’ where all my speakers were working like a horse during the entire film. Dialogue was very clear too, which for a lower budgeted film is pretty good.
If you are a fan of the ‘The Mummy’ franchise, you will enjoy ‘The Scorpion King’. I don’t have to mention it, but this is the Dwayne Johnson show from the beginning to end. HD DVD owners, there are minimal reasons for an upgrade, unless you want the free movie ticket, DTS-MA audio or you just don’t like HD DVD Combo discs. With solid video transfer and a new audio mix, this is a nice package for fans. In mid August, Universal is releasing a prequel of the ‘The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior’ direct to DVD and Blu-ray with UFC fighter Randy Couture playing the lead villain Sargon and the actor playing Mathayus strikes a deal with Anubis to use his invincible army. There you have it, the origins of ‘The Scorpion King’ is coming mid August.