Sunday, June 9, 2019

Scorpion King 5: Book of Souls (2018)

So 2016 saw the announcement that Universal was trying again to build a bit of a cinematic universe (look guys you did it in the 40's - just build on that don't reinvent the wheel) called Dark Universe.  First cab of the rank - The Mummy (2017) which effectively canceled the existing Mummy/Scorpion King Franchise and killing a fourth movie with an Aztec Mummy (reportedly played by Antonio Banderis).

Imagine my utter surprise that 2018 had a new direct to DVD Scorpion King movie.  New actor Zach McGowan as The Scorpion King - the fourth in the franchise.

Zach came to Brisbane Supanove in November 2018, when was the movie release? December 2018.  So I couldn't have a copy for him to sign.  What marketing genius thought that was a good idea?

So I finally get the movie.  Matthius is working as a blacksmith in a small village having lost his kingdom and love interest again.  What's that like three now?
(from 1, 3, and 4 although 4 isn't as certain as the other two)  Maybe that's what causes his Mummy Returns heel turn - I'm sick of losing kingdoms)

And that's something that hangs over these movies - is this the one where he snaps?Where we see the start of his descent into villainy?  Because in all five Scorpion King movies, Matthius is pretty heroic.

The movie opens with the creation of The Fang of Anubis, a sword that steals the souls of all it kills.  A warlord Nebserek steals it and lays waste to  country.  He is obessessed with finding the Scorpion King.

The villains make the classic villain mistake - the hero is cheerfully minding his business - he might be on holiday.  The baddies hear he is nearby clearly the hero must be in town to investigate their evil plot, there is no other possibility.  We must attack first.  Our hero who would have cheerfully spent two weeks fishing and gone home is now aware of villainy in the area and he is rather pissed off that his holiday is ruined, someone tried to kill him, possibly that there is someone else died in the attempt. (my favourite version of this is Batman Forever)  Look Mathius would have been happy chilling in his smithy but you had to attack him and kill his friends.

He is left for dead and is rescued by Tala, the daughter of Balathazar (Michael Clarke Duncan) from the first movie and they quest to find the one artefact the Book of Souls that will destroy the Fang and release the souls.

It's an enjoyable movie, McGowan is good in the fights, the villain is suitably threatening making for a good final boss fight.  There's a nice twist on the nature of the book of souls.  There are some interesting new characters including a golem who is scared of fire.  (I kept thinking they were calling him gollum)

With or without McGowan, I'd be down for more Scorpion King movies.  (also I'd down for a definitive timeline )  

Monday, May 27, 2019

The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power (2015)

Victor Webster returns in this the next Scorpion King movie.  There is an another reference to The Scorpion King being a campfire story, a legend.

The movie opens and Mathius is a mercenary again, there's no reference to the events of the last movie but there is a reference to the first movie.

This movie could take place before three or after (I have to admit that there's part of  me that enjoys the idea that the chronology goes 2,1,4,3) 

I do kinda like the idea that we are getting legends of The Scorpion King each one is a standalone story with the Queens he has met and wooed.  Each adventure begins as a blank slate and Mathius is alone fighting as a mercenary, fighting for  a kingdom and winning over a queen only to start over in the next movie.  Chronology doesn't rellay matter.  Heck if he is immortal (as hinted in 2) then it may be a longer period between movie and he queen has died of old age.

Mathius has been training an apprentice Drazen who in a scene that gives a nod to Raiders of the Lost Ark betrays Mathius. and the ending references Last Crusade
Given Indy's influence on the Mummy movies that should come as no surprize.

There's a big speil that magic isn't real it's all just science except that there is true magic in the finale (and magic is real in the other movies in both this series and The Mummy movies)

It's an enjoyable movie with The Scorpion King fighting his old protege who has framed him for the kiiling of the king and the hunt for a legendary King's crown.
It's a fun romp that's enjoyable as long as you don't take it too serious.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

The Scorpion King 3:The Battle for Redemption

It's 2012 and we have another Scorpion King movie and we are now on a third actor playing the Scorpion King - Victor Webster.

Webster most natby had been in Mutant X and Continium He's fine in the role not as muscular as The Rock but he can hadle himself in the fights.

This movie is a sequel to the First movie (so for those following on the chronology goes Scorpion King 2, The Scorpion King, The Scorpion King 3, The Mummy Returns prologue.)

The kingdom Mathius gained in the first movie has falled and Casandra has died,  we see Cassandra as Matthius remembers his wife and it's shots of Kelly Hu from the first movie.

Matthius has returned to being a mercenary and is hired by King Horus (Ron Pearlman).  Horus is facing rebellion from his brother Talus (Billy Zane).  Horus has sent the Book of The Dead to his ally King Ramusen (Temeura Morrison) and Talus is attacking Ramusen to get the book.

Matthius is sent with a Teutonic warrior Olaf,  the pair make a good team. 

There's a good plot were we discover that the book can release Warriors and they challenge Mathius and Olaf in a battle.

There is a suggestion that The Scorpion King is a legend.

The movie is enjoyable and ends with Mathius getting a new wife and kingdom.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

The Mummy Chronicles 4:Flight of the Phoenix by David Wolverton

The fourth and final book in the Mummy Chronicles YA series.  Alex O'Connell is again at the centre of this book and Ardeth Bay has taken him for some more Medjai training.

It turns out that a Phoenix egg as alledgedly turned up and the Medjai decide to send out three recruits to investigate.  (great plan guys)

And Alex discovers that his friends Rachel and Matt have followed him.

So Alex has to protect his friends without telling them exactly what is going on while competing against one of the other Medjai recruits.

To make matters worse, as they catch up with the traders who have the egg, they are attacked by slavers and robbers who steal the egg and capture Rachel.

The assault on the brigand's hideout is quite interesting.

Now that I've finished these books, the animated series, the movies, the novelisations, and  the comics. (OK I have three Scorpion King movies left)  The Mummy series as a whole is enjoyable. 

In many ways The Mummy Chronicles and the Animated Series  cover a lot of the same ground.  Both focus on Alex, and his Medjai training  both take the series in exploring other supernatural beings outside of Mummies (something the Scorpion King does too). 

Surprisingly, they work chronologically,  the first Chronicles book is set in 1937 and according to the Mummy Annual the Animated series is set in 1938.

I wish Wolverton did more books and let the O'Connell family work together more.  I like Rick and Evie (and Jonathon) .  Those are the characters we met in the first Mummy,  I get it Alex is the stand in for the audience in these younger skewing formats but those original characters are who we fell in love with.

(I wish they made the fourth movie with an Aztec Mummy, that got bumped in favour of the Dark Universe.)


Thursday, April 4, 2019

The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior dir Russell Mulcahy starring Randy Couture and Michael Capon

Funny story,  when I first saw the poster and promotional material I assumed that Randy Couture had taken over the role of Mathayus from The Rock.

Seemed reasonsable except that Michael Capon, the blue Time Force Power Ranger was Mathayus and Couture was the villian of the story - Sargon of Akkad.

It's a nice little adventure with Mathayus as a boy, against his father's wishes trying out to become a Black Scorpion, the elite Akkadian mercenary force. His father is killed through dark magic.  He goes off trains for six years and returns to discover that the man who killed his father has upsurped the throne.

There's a nice touch once he discovers Sargon is a magic user where he is off to Egypt to seek the Osiris Staff (from The Mummy Returns)  but he his advised against that and seels the Sword of Domocles.

Firstly do not use these films as any sort of historical reference.  The first film says before the pyramids, this film a prequel has a character saying they were going to Egypt to see the pyramids.

The CGI is not good Sargon becomes a giant scorpion who is mostly invisible which hides many sins but not all of them and at one point Mathayus and his party encounter a minotaur.  I think he looks like the one seen in The Animated series, but we never get a good look at the beast.

This was made in 2008 as a DVD tie in for Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.  It must have done alright as they made another three after this (and could be planning more for all I know).

Capon's Mathayus is fine, he's younger and I could see how he became the man from the first film.  His female companion Layla is okay and the Greek poet Ari is quite entertaining.  The trio put me in mind of Rick, Evy and Jonathon from the Mummy movies.

I enjoyed this movie,  it's not the greatest film ever but it wasn't trying for that.  It's a simple revenge story with the first big adventure of the man who would become the Scorpion King.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

The Scorpion King (2002) Dwayne' The Rock" Johnson

While The Mummy Returns was The Rock's movie debut, it was little more than a gloriied cameo and half of that was CGI. The Scorpion King was his debut as a leading man.

Seventeen years later and Dwayne Johnson is one of the busiest people in Hollywood but it wasn't a sure thing.

Watching The Scorpion King so soon after the Mummy Returns, there's big disconnect between the noble and heroic Matthyias seen in this movie and the villianous Scorpion King in the Mummy Returns granted there was some time between the two stories but as we get more sequels with a heroic Scorpion King the harder it is see Matthyias' heel turn  (The Scorping King 2 was a prequel to this movie but 3 - 5 are set after this movie)

I do wonder if the Scorpion King was never meant to be connected to the Mummy and the sudden success of The Mummy meant that they used ideas from The Scorpion King in the Mummy Returns.

There is an entry on TVtropes that Sommers considers the Mummy Returns Scorpion King to be the lookalike grandson of this Scorpion King.  Ican't find the actual source for that but It's an interesting way to look at two franschises.

The movie itself is quite enjoyable Sword and Scorcery film in the vein of Conan or Hercules.  (which reminds me I want to see the Hercules Movie that Dwayn Johnson made a couple of years back)

Kelly Hu as the sorceress Cassandra is quite good in her role and is quite able to handle her own in some of the fight scenes.  The Rock is charismatic and really good - it's hard to beleive that his is his second movie and first leading role, he hold his own with Michael Clarke Duncan's Balthazar.

Hey i wouldn't complain if every few years another DVD exclusive in this series was come out.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

The Mummy Chronicles 3: The Curse of the Nile by Dave Wolverton

 This is the third book of this young adult series.

Alex and his parents are investigating an artefact that might lead to a lost and long destroyed Temple of Osiris, in a prologue we see the temple was destroyed after a djinn invaded the temple and hid itself in a powerful amulet.  The amulet is hidden in a river temple.

Wouldn't you know it but guess who falls overboard and finds the amulet? Alex.

The Djinn is a nice change of pace and one that has not  appeared before. As per the typical legends three wishes will free the Djinn and he will be able to enslave the world.

There were somethings that bothered me about this story.  One Alex doesn't tell his parents or Ardeth Bay what is happening instead trusting Rachel and Matt hos friends from the last book.  We get a bit where the Djin tells Alex not to trust Ardeth or his parents but really all three have the knowledge and experience in these matters.  I get this a YA book but this seemed like the sitaution for the adults.

Another thing that annoyed me  was the constant reference to Alex's mother and Alex's father rather than Rick or Evie .

Ungricht the evil German archeologist from the first two book is back but is turned into a giant toad permanently.

Hopefully the fourth and final book will turn up soon, I'm looking forward  to see what it brings.