The Scorpion King (Rental) (2002)

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Rental Version Only
Available for Rent

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Adventure Trailer-The Scorpion King (Game); E.T. (DVD)
Trailer-Back To The Future Trilogy;Mummy:Search For The Scrolls
Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
dts Trailer-Piano
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 87:37
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (45:56) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Chuck Russell
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring The Rock
Steven Brand
Kelly Hu
Bernard Hill
Grant Heslow
Peter Facinelli
Ralf Moeller
Michael Clarke Duncan
Case ?
RPI Rental Music John Debney


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes, advertising at start
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    I really enjoyed The Mummy, and The Mummy Returns. They represented a style of horror / comedy / action / thriller that is very much to my taste (and the taste of lots of other movie-ticket buyers...). I was rather pleased to hear that they were making a spin-off movie going into more detail about the Scorpion King, because there aren't enough good films in this genre. Well, there still aren't...this is not a good film.

    The Scorpion King was an interesting character in The Mummy Returns, but he only got a few minutes of screen time, and I don't recall him saying anything - his primary asset (the occasional muscle, or two) was on display, and all he really needed to do was to strike a few poses, a skill he brought with him from his day job as a pro wrestler. Now he is expected to carry the movie.

    I was a bit concerned. After all, he's a pro wrestler. Could he be expected to perform on a movie stage, where all the fights are carefully scripted and choreographed? Would he understand that this was fake fighting, so very different from what he was used to? (Still, they did give him furniture to fight with, even if it wasn't a metal folding chair). Could he act hurt when struck by a stuntman? Could he act pain? (Can I string this sarcasm out any further?)

    Actually, the biggest flaws in this movie don't relate to The Rock. He does everything he's supposed to, and delivers his lines rather well - better than Arnold Schwarzenegger did in his first few movies, that's for sure. So what's the problem? Well, the script is dreadful, and the central bad guy is utterly unconvincing. If we compare this movie to Conan the Barbarian (Arnie's first big movie, and quite comparable to this one) we note that Arnie's enemy was Thulsa Doom, played with sinister gusto by James Earl Jones. The Rock is playing opposite Steven Brand as Memnon - they'd have done better to use Michael Clarke Duncan (who plays Balthazar, leader of the Nubians). Steven Brand is not a bad actor, but he is hardly a figure to strike terror into the heart at first sight - such an actor would work in this role if the script built him up enough, but it doesn't. And that's my biggest criticism - this script is clichéd and boring. That's not what I expected, given that Stephen Sommers shares the writing credits, and he was responsible for the Mummy movies.

    I fear that this script suffered from a dose of committee writing - lots of people insisting that their ideas be included. Kelly Hu's role probably got the worst of that - can't you imagine the insistence by one voice that she be naked when The Rock first encounters her? And another voice insisting that nothing naughty show, because they must get their PG-13 rating? So we see her surging out of water with strategically placed long hair; we get her dressed in an outfit that has no sides, but only a front (with plunging neckline) and back; we see her lying in bed, clearly naked, but with carefully placed arm... It's so coy, so obvious, so "let's include this because it will look great in the trailer". I'd far rather they either showed her body for real, or gave her something decent (and believable) to wear - let her convey the sexiness of her role by acting (she managed quite well in the Sammo Hung TV show Martial Law, for example).

    By the way - if you have watched this film, did you get the distinct impression that Peter Facinelli (Takmet) is trying very hard to imitate Tom Cruise? And did you notice a distinct ignorance of the physics of people hit by arrows? (When an arrow weighing a lot less than a kilo, travelling comparatively slowly, hits a man weighing perhaps 80 kilos, the man does not fly many metres through the air.)

    I've worked it out! I know what happened! This is a James Bond rip-off, pure and simple. That explains Kelly Hu's role - she's the Bond girl (they're always shown that way), reprising the Jane Seymour role from Live and Let Die. It explains the role of Philos (Bernard Hill) - he's Q, developer of gadgets (developing gunpowder from a Chinese recipe millennia before the Chinese did...). It even explains the camel (standing in for an Aston Martin, or whatever)... I'm surprised I hadn't twigged earlier.

    There are plenty of films out there worse than this one, but I was expecting so much more. I just hope Mr Sommers does a better job on the next real Mummy movie (and I don't mean the animated one)

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This film was released this year, so we're entitled to expect a perfect transfer. It's close.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, matching the original theatrical aspect ratio. The DVD is 16x9 enhanced.

    The image is quite sharp and clear, with very good shadow detail. There's no low level noise.

    Colour is good - there are plenty of strong colours on display, and no colour-related artefacts.

    There are no film artefacts (as one might hope). There are a few hints of aliasing, and a couple of moments with a faint touch of background shimmer, but these are hard to spot. This is a very clean transfer.

    There are subtitles in English - they are captions, with almost more documentation of sound effects than dialogue.

    The disc is single-sided, RSDL, with the layer change at 45:56. Even though it occurs mid-scene, it's not particularly distracting, because there's little movement, and no sound, at the time.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The soundtrack is provided only in English, in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and in dts 5.1 - both in English. This is technically a very good soundtrack (I'm not talking about the content) - reference quality stuff.

    The dialogue is mostly clear and readily understood. There are some audio sync glitches (see 34:42, for example), but the sync is only very slightly out - I suspect it's more a case of inexperience with ADR on the part of the actors involved.

    The score comes from John Debney. Not his best work, at all - it's very clichéd, but does the job.

    The surrounds are used extensively for ambience - excellent sound design. The subwoofer gets plenty of work, mostly providing ominous rumblings.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The only extras on this disc are four trailers. These play when you load the disc (4:44 of advertising before the menu appears - that's a bit rich!) - fortunately you can hit Menu to skip them. Or, you can invoke them individually from the menu.

Menu

    The menu is animated, with music. I have been told that some of the music here is The Rock's theme music.

Trailer - The Scorpion King video game

    Looks like a video game of the third person adventure type.

Trailer - ET

    A trailer for the release of ET on DVD.

Trailer - Back to the Future box set

    A trailer for the Back to the Future DVD box set.

Trailer - animated Mummy series

    Oh, dear - they've made an animated movie using The Mummy characters - things don't look good for our heroes...

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 version won't be released until October. There is no indication that it will have more extras (there's a 2 disc version, but the second disc is a CD containing the soundtrack). It will be available in different versions for wide-screen and full-screen (presumably pan and scan, because the film was shot anamorphically). I doubt there's any reason to prefer the widescreen R1 over this R4 version.

Summary

    The Scorpion King is a disappointing film on a near-immaculate DVD.

    The video quality is high.

    The audio is of demonstration quality.

    The extras are minimal, as is common on rental discs.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Wednesday, September 25, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Amy F
Web Wombat - James A
region4dvd.net - Darren R (read my bio (fun for the whole family))
The DVD Bits - Tim M

Comments (Add)
R1 DVD of SCORPION KING is now available -
Review of the R1 DVD - SvenL