The Scorpion King (2002) [Blu-Ray]

Genre(s): Action / Adventure / Fantasy
Universal || PG13 - 92 minutes - $29.98 || July 22, 2008
Reviewer: Brad Lowenberg || Posted On: 2008-07-16


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Chuck Russell
Writer(s): Stephen Sommers and Jonathan Hales (story), Stephen Sommers and William Osborne and David Hayter (screenplay)
Cast: The Rock, Steven Brand, Michael Clarke Johnson, Kelly Hu, Bernard Hill, Grant Heslov, Peter Facinelli


Theatrical Release Date: April 19, 2002


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Feature Commentary
  • U-Control


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (DTS-HD MA), French (DTS 5.1), Spanish (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

After the success of The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, Universal decided to go a different route and tell the tale of The Scorpion King, one of the big baddies from The Mummy Returns. Since The Rock (who now goes by Dwayne Johnson) was only in The Mummy Returns for a few minutes, Universal decided to flesh his character out a bit more and go for a prequel instead - that way they could get The Rock in a movie all by himself. So a Prequel was thought up (The film is prequel to a sequel to a remake) and away we go!

The film tells the story of Mathayus (The Rock), an Acadian warrior who is sent by his people to kill the evil ruler Memnon (Steven Brand) and his sorcerer Cassandra (Kelly Hu). Unfortunately for our hero he fails his mission and instead decides to kidnap Cassandra as she would be more useful to him alive rather than dead. Mathayus escapes with the help from a horse thief named Arpid (Grant Heslov; who could easily be a long lost ancestor of Beni from The Mummy) and with the help of Cassandra plans a way to eliminate Memnon for good.

Universal decided to change things around a bit and give The Scorpion King a real name (Mathayus) and turn him into a good guy. While the change is for the better, it may confuse viewers who after seeing The Mummy Returns would know him as a bad guy. Regardless, the changes help give a back story and a reason why he is ultimately called The Scorpion King instead of Mathayus.

While I actually did enjoy the film, it definitely has the cheese factor going for it. Too many times the film turns into a slow-mo mess showcasing Mathayus slowly pulling a sword from his back or another character slowly throwing a much needed sword so Mathayus can kill the guy that is slowly falling from the sky ready to strike. While The Mummy films had some pretty funny moments, The Scorpion King tends to throw in more quick one-liners or 'witty' pieces of dialog that is sure to make the young ones laugh.

The film may lack substance, but itís definitely a fun popcorn flick to watch. It has some pretty amazing action scenes and some decent special effects. Apparently Universal liked the film enough to green light a straight to video prequel (sans The Rock) which is due out on DVD and Blu-ray August 19th. So now we have a prequel to a prequel to a sequel to a remake.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Commentary with Director Chuck Russell - A very informative track that delves into many facts on The Scorpion King and the 'actor' The Rock. My only nitpick here is that Chuck has a very monotone voice and can be a bit boring from time to time.

U-Control (BonusView: Profile 1.1/2.0 Players Only) - While watching the film you can press the RED button on your remote and activate the U-Control, which depending what scene you are in, will allow you to open up and view a small video of either the actors talking or some behind the scenes information. While some people may get a kick out of this stuff, I'd much rather have all the interviews and such contained in separate features (as would those with Profile 1.0 players who can't even access U-Control).



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

The Scorpion King is presented in its Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 (VC1) on a 25GB Disc. While not a bad transfer, I did notice more than once the appearance of small scratches and what appeared to be dirt littered through several scenes. Besides that itís a really clean transfer with very deep blacks and some amazing shots (when they stumble upon the small river).

Universal continues to bring all of their previous HD DVD films over with DTS MA tracks. As for the DTS MA track on The Scorpion King... well, it easily tops The Mummy or The Mummy Returns in that department since its a bit more action oriented. Right from the start I was greeted with a huge fight that took control of my complete sound system where I could hear even the slightest detail in the mix. Easily of one of the best tracks I have heard in a long time.



.::OVERALL::.

The Scorpion King makes a great popcorn flick even it has very little to do with the other Mummy films. With an above average picture quality and an audio track that may be one of the finest to hit Blu-ray in a long, long time, The Scorpion King is a worthy addition to your Blu-ray library.