Directed by: Russell Mulcahy
Starring: Michael Copon, Randy Couture, Karen David, Simon Quarterman
The original Scorpion King, a spin-off of The Mummy franchise, has always been a guilty pleasure for me. It came out at a time when I was really itching for a new Conan style movie and for the most part it fit the bill. This sequel wasn’t something I had high expectations for nut I find myself again craving a Conan movie so I cracked open the box with fingers crossed….
It turns out that The Scorpion King 2 isn’t really a sequel; it’s actually a prequel. What we have here is a young Mathayus, a child that would grow up to become the Scorpion King. He wants to become a member of an elite fighting force called The Black Scorpions like his father before him. Before he leaves for his training Mathayus’ father is killed by the villainous Sargon. Mathayus vows that he will return to the kingdom and kill Sargon after his training. The story is fairly connect-the-dots from here with Sargon’s villainous activities escalating and Mathayus being forced to seek out a special weapon to win the day. This story isn’t much different than Krull or Dragon Slayer from the 80’s in its story but unfortunately it fails in some key ways that keep it from becoming a guilty pleasure like those “classics”.
The major failure is in the script. It shouldn’t be hard to craft a good enough script from such a standard story; basically it should be a D&D adventure with charismatic characters and good dialogue. This leads me to the next failure in the film: the acting. Not only is there no charisma on screen from anyone, but the actors come off more like volunteers for audio book reading rather than passionate actors. Every actor on screen comes off as flat as a pancake. What really should I have expected from a UFC fighter and an ex Power Ranger? Michael Copon, young Mathayus, also looks like a reject from a live action anime character throughout this film. I don’t think I’ve seen a film of this type where the main characters hair is so meticulously placed. Many other failings abound in this film, the directing is flat, the action sequences are disappointing to say the least, and most of the set pieces are uninspired. The other main thing that makes a movie like Krull successful is its breakneck pacing. Guess what? The Scorpion King 2 is presented at an inconsistent pace with the majority of the film creeping by.
Being a Direct-to-DVD doesn’t necessarily mean a film will be low budget looking or bad. In recent months we’ve seen a surge in popularity of Direct-to-DVD films and some truly interesting things happening in that arena. Unfortunately this film doesn’t fit that bill. The Scorpion King 2 instead feels like one of those typical low budget films that the SCIFI Channel will soon buy the rights to for broadcast. I ahte to say it but the room is just weak, and it makes me even more sad to report this film comes from the director of the first Highlander film, a true classic. How the mighty have fallen….
The film is presented in widescreen and overall it looks great, only limited by the source material. Colors are basic and lack any style. They aren’t vibrant and they aren’t purposefully muted. It just feels basic. Grain is kept to a minimum and black levels are pretty good. Special effects don’t look very sharp but that may be due to a limitation of the source material.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation is basic but acceptable with dialogue coming through clean and clear throughout. Sound effects and score are also well balanced. There’s no dynamic range in the presentation though and forget you even own a subwoofer. Surround usage also feels minimal. It’s there but it’s not special in any way.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The single disc comes in a standard amaray case with artwork that looks like it came from a Scorpion King template. The look and color pallet are the same as the DVD release of the first film making them fit nicely together on the shelf.
There’s actually a handful of bonus features on this disc. First up is a making of featurette with interviews with the cast and crew and some behind the scenes footage. The coverage here is good, especially for such a disappointing film. The remaining featurettes are very brief with none of them running more than seven or eight minutes. There’s a featurette covering the training, one focused on the villain Sargon, one with the “leading ladies”, and one covering the special effects. If the DVD creators had assembled all of this into a single documentary it all would have worked better. Lastly there’s a brief gag reel and some deleted scenes.
This movie is a rousing disappointment, that’s really all I can think to say.
Overall (Not an Average) 4/10
The Movie 2/10
The Video 7/10
The Audio 6/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 5/10
Overall (Not an Average) 4/10