The 52 Worst Films of the 2000s

Movies You Aught Not Watch: The Scorpion King

Movies You Aught Not Watch is Nick Rogers’ weekly, alphabetical look back at the 52 worst films of 2000-2009.

“The Scorpion King”
Rated PG-13

The Rock sounds like someone who’d kick your ass, then laugh about it. Dwayne Johnson? Not so much.

Using his pro-wrestling pseudonym early in his cinematic career, Johnson often had considerable charisma squeezed out of him under WWE magnate Vince McMahon’s thumb.

That was never more depressingly apparent than in 2002’s “The Scorpion King” — a prequel to a sequel of a remake of 1932’s “The Mummy.” In other words, as unnecessary as the revived “Mummy” franchise’s abysmal second sequel.

Before becoming a CGI heavy in “The Mummy Returns,” Mathayus (The Rock) was an archer with arrows able to blast foes into cumulonimbus clouds. Given that, supernatural assistance doesn’t seem essential to battle evil Memnon (Steven Brand), so resembling Billy Ray Cyrus that you half-expect him to belt out “Achy Breaky Heart.”

Still, to topple someone trained in deadly arts of squinting and sneering, Mathayus must team with a sorceress (Kelly Hu). Her gift is not strategic emergence from bathtubs with her hair draping her nipples, but ESP — which she’ll lose upon her first incident of intercourse. The lesson to women: Sex will rob your occupational skills.

Director Chuck Russell’s first cut allegedly lasted only 70 minutes, so tacked-on tangents consistently interrupt a climactic siege. What seem like moments on actors’ lips are lifetimes on “Scorpion’s” already severely compromised hips.

Boasting sword-and-sandal action more sluggish than a Ye Olde Renaissance Faire, The Rock putting someone through a table would be a welcome anachronism. “The Scorpion King”? More like “Moron the Barbarian.”

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15 Responses to “Movies You Aught Not Watch: The Scorpion King”

  1. Edward Sonnenschein says:

    And as everyone knows "An opinion is like an a–hole – everyone’s got one!"

  2. Wesley says:

    What difference would it make? Would it give you a better understanding of who I am? No. It wouldn’t.

    I was not talking shit. Merely stating an opinion.

  3. Nick Rogers says:

    Wesley: Attaching your full name to an Internet comment is a lot harder than anonymously talking shit, too. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  4. Wesley says:

    Really? The movie was a pretty good movie. Everyone I know that has seen it has at least somewhat liked it. There were funny bits, good cinematography, good sets, good action scenes, and Kelly Hu.

    Yeah. It wasn’t the greatest movie, but it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as you’re putting it out there to be.

    Directing a movie is a lot harder then getting on a website and talking shit about a movie.

    Just saying.

  5. Joe Shearer says:

    Too bad my next "That Guy" column is on Keith David. Tiny Lister will have to be next. Even in The Dark Knight my first thought was "hey look! it’s Zeus!"

    It’s the Human Wrecking Machine, who couldn’t be hurt until Hogan Hulked Up.

    Chris Lemmon, also…wow. Is he Jack’s son? That was some high-quality homoeroticism there. Wasn’t Carol Alt the hottie in Thunder in Paradise?

  6. Nick Rogers says:

    Tiny Lister 4eva. "Thunder in Paradise," co-starring the charisma tornado known as Chris Lemmon.

  7. Joe Shearer says:

    That’s a safe assumption. "No Holds Barred" and "Santa With Muscles," on the other hand, are movie magic. Vince McMahon had nothing to do with it, but the latter is true also of "Thunder in Paradise" on TV.

  8. Nick Rogers says:

    Great points all, Joe. But are you calling "Suburban Commando" and "Mr. Nanny" failures?

  9. Joe Shearer says:

    I think The Rock is really to blame for these movies. When he came around flashing his charisma, Vince McMahon saw his chance to succeed where he failed with Hulk Hogan. When he lost him he thought, as in the wrestling world, he can just remove that particular missing cog with another, and has found that not to be the case.

    John Cena has a certain charisma in the ring, probably the best-shifting personality from silly to serious, but that doesn’t make him a good actor.

    I think this is the difference: Vince has long said he makes movies (see his comments in "Beyond the Mat"), but his mistake is in assuming that an actor good in one platform (in a live-audience type setting doing a form of improv where they only have to show at most 3 emotions, all of which are pumped up dramatically from the way one typically acts in a public setting) will succeed in another. Just doesn’t work.

    And Paul Wight could have a future in niche roles like Captain Insano, but based on "Knucklehead" (which I’ve seen: he’s not much of a lead actor.

  10. Nick Rogers says:

    Edward: As far as I’m concerned, WWE’s filmmaking unit is still licking the bottom of the barrel after "The Condemned" — easily one of the decade’s 10 worst films. Granted, I’ve not watched WWE in a long time, but I wonder whether their current personalities are less charismatic and thus less bankable outside the ring. Ted DiBiase was charismatic? His son in a spinoff of "The Marine"? Probably not so much. (Speaking of "The Marine," am I the only one who thinks John Cena looks like Matt Damon on HGH?) Good point on Paul Wight excelliing at comedy, as he has with bit parts in "MacGruber" and his classic appearance as Captain Insano in "The Waterboy." Maybe he and Rikishi Phatu can team up for a buddy comedy. Thanks for reading and for commenting!

  11. Edward Sonnenschein says:

    This morning I had the misfortune of being awake way too early and found The Scorpion King was showing on the channel from the last show i watched last night. I watched the last 30 minutes and found it to be as entertaining as it was the first time I saw it. This film is another example of the type of films that the money from the WWE is able to produce. An interesting sidenote is that when the credits were rolling I noted Vince McMahon was an Executive Producer. It seems the WWE is quickly becoming a schlock film producer and seems to be headed to the list of heading the "C" movies that are coming out lately for the most part direct to DVD bypassing theaters or getting, if they are lucky, a one week very limited engagement. (Meaning that one theater in NY might be showing it) Wrestlers for the most part as film actors is a poor idea. they might be able to act in the ring but up on the big screen their lack of talent shows through. A possible exception might be the new film starring Paul Whyte ("THE BIG SHOW"), which is a comedy. I think wrestlers might be able to pull this off a little better than all the action films they have been in to date.

  12. Nick Rogers says:

    Jason: I’d argue that "Conan the Barbarian" is a great movie and "Conan the Destroyer" is, at the very least, entertaining, but that’s just my take. We’re all entitled to a little blasphemy every now and again, by the way. Thanks for the comment, and thanks for reading!

  13. Jason says:

    I’d argue that The Scorpion King, while definitely a bad movie, is certainly not one of the worst of an entire decade. And, as blasphemous as this sounds to a child of the 80’s, it really isn’t any better or worse than the Schwarzenegger’s Conan flicks or the subsequent clones that followed.

  14. Nick Rogers says:

    Joe: I’ll do you one better. Word is that "The Scorpion King: Rise of the Dead" will be, get ready, a sequel to the prequel to the prequel of the sequel to the remake of 1932’s "The Mummy." That’s not just dead-horse territory. That’s beating a reincarnated horse that died a second time.

    As a general rule, I hate prequels (with a few exceptions like "Temple of Doom," segments of "The Godfather II," "Episode III"). Aside from the inherent problem of empty danger – obviously, the younger hero/villain won’t perish in the prequel – I just don’t want to think of, say, Leatherface, as a misunderstood behemoth. He’s a bogeyman. But more on that for another Aught Not. Going back to the "Mummy" series for a moment, I’m not hailing Stephen Sommers as an auteur, but I think even he knew on which installments to bail.

    Just out of curiosity, what other films would you substitute for "The Scorpion King"?

  15. Joe Shearer says:

    And don’t forget the Scorpion King’s DTV prequel starring Randy Couture, which is the prequel to the prequel of the sequel to the remake of 1932’s The Mummy.

    But really, I didn’t think "Scorpion King" was THAT bad. Sure, it was just another in a long line of dunderheaded action films, but no worse than 10-15 others than came out in the 00s that are not mentioned on the list. Maybe it’s the poster boy.