The Scorpion King (2002)
Main cast: Dwayne Johnson @ The Rock (Mathayus the Scorpion King), Steven Brand (Memnon), Kelly Hu (Cassandra), Michael Clarke Duncan (Balthazar), Grant Heslov (Arpid), Peter Facinelli (Takmet), and Ralph Moeller (Thorak)
Director: Chuck Russell

Good cheese must be fun. It is okay if the women are dressed in nothing more than sheer curtains and the heroes are beef on legs. It is okay if the plot makes no sense - if there's a plot at all - and it is okay if there are gratuitous flashes of boobies and skanky sex. That's what genre movies are all about.

It is not okay to boring. So die, The Scorpion King!

It is such a shame, actually, because this movie has all the right ingredients to be glorious cheese. The Rock is actually pretty good as an Arnold Schwarzenegger gone Conan the Barbarian, and Arnold will kill for the (admittedly minimal) range the Rock has.

The Scorpion King is so heavily digitized that even the Rock himself feels like a computer-generated image. He plays Mathayus, one of the last of the Accadians, who along with his ragtag family and a camel (yes, a camel), rents his assassin services out to a bunch of rebels. The target? The Sorcerer of the general Memnon. This Sorcerer is a psychic fellow who is directing Memnon to victory, so that Sorcerer must die.

Faster than you can say "Excess baggage", all of Rocko's folks but Rocko die in a betrayal thingie that is done with no subtlety at all. But he gets a new sidekick, the non-stop human Jar Jar Binks named Die Die Binks. Okay, I didn't get that motormouth's name, but Die Die Binks is evil on my nerves. And the Sorcerer turns out to be an almost-99%-all-the-time almost-nekkid Sorceress named Cassandra (oh boy). Rocko and Naked Cassie fall in love, Rocko lumbers around like a slow-mo clumsy bahemoth surrounded by CGI images, and he saves the day and becomes the Scorpion king. Or something. No, I don't care. I can barely stay awake.

I really like how the Sorceress, wearing only a bedsheet thingie over her naked body, can ride a camel astride for hours at top speed without getting painfully sore. Even better, after days of wearing only a bedsheet over her nakedness in the hot, hot desert, (and no shoes, mind you), her make-up is still perfect. Gotta love a girl who knows her beauty secrets.

The Rock does try. There's no one who embodies the perfect cheese. Watch his lift his eyebrow in his trademark sneer and hear him say "Boo!" and I go "Hee!".

But forget the dialogues - which are corny as hell, it's just like kiddie scriptwriters trying to emulate bad Conan comic books - and bad acting. What kills this movie is the lack of soul. Okay, soul is a vague term, but consider the gloriously bad fun movies like Evil Dead, Friday the 13th, and Chucky franchises - even at their very rank and bad, they still embody some knowing humor and camp. The Scorpion King is all hollow, gloss, and modern imageworks, however, that it is cold and hollow, like a robot programmed to entertain only in the most cursory way. There's no passion, no spark, nothing. Life's dead and everything's barren in this arid desert that is The Scorpion King. How boring.

Rating: 46

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