Ed Driscoll

NRO ON THE SCORPION KING,

NRO ON THE SCORPION KING, the latest “prequel” to The Mummy movies:

In terms of physical acting, The Scorpion King is roughly what Raiders of the Lost Ark would have been like if Indiana Jones had been played by Lou Ferrigno instead of Harrison Ford. This problem is made worse by director Chuck Russell, who is merely the latest action-movie director to have no idea how to stage action. He zeroes in so closely on his combatants it’s like watching headless, armless, legless torsos battle it out.

Along with The Rock, Michael Clarke Duncan, the gigantic basso profundo from The Green Mile, appears as Balthazar, a “Nubian” warrior who joins forces with Mathayus against the tyrant Memnon. (Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that they’re battling the tyrant Memnon, played by Stephen Brand, who has killed Mathayus’s brother and who uses an enslaved sorceress to help him conquer his rivals. That’s pretty much the story.) Duncan fares even less well than The Rock. The Nubian’s huge face is supposed to be riven with ceremonial warrior scars, but it just looks like several fat pieces of pasta al dente got stuck to his cheeks and forehead during last night’s sloppy bacchanal. And in one combat scene, he crashes through a wall wearing a clownish grimace that wouldn’t have been out of place in some jungle movie from the 1950s. If he had then grunted “Ooga Booga,” I wouldn’t have been surprised.