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To be perfectly honest, I wasnít expecting too much, when I sat down with a copy of THE SCORPION KING to watch for the first time on DVD back in 2002. However, I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by the movie. No, THE SCORPION KING ($30) isnít great cinema, nor is leading man Dwayne Johnson (aka The Rock) going to win an Academy Award anytime soon (and still looking that way in 2008). With that said, I found THE SCORPION KING to be an entertaining, albeit mindless, popcorn movie and Dwayne Johnson the perfect embodiment of the title character. If you are like me, with a fondness for sword and sandal action movies- with an emphasis on the action (not to mention tongue-in-cheek humor), I think youíll cozy right up to THE SCORPION KING.

The plot of THE SCORPION KING takes place long before the events in THE MUMMY RETURNS, which introduced the filmís title character. At the point in time at which the story takes place, The Scorpion King is not yet a king, but instead, a warrior/assassin named Mathayus, who is engaged to kill the sorcerer that has rendered an evil warlord and his armies completely unstoppable. When Mathayus zeros in on his quandary, he discovers that the sorcerer is in fact a beautiful sorceressÖ one who actually saves the assassinís when he is captured. Eventually, Mathayus is able to make an escape and he kidnaps the sorceress, instead of killing her. With the sorceress at his side, Mathayus has effectively rendered the warlord vulnerable to attack, so he musters his forces to launch a preemptive strike against the warlord and his army.

As you can see, the plot to THE SCORPION KING isnít particularly complex, but it serves the movie well as a springboard to one solid action sequence after another. Additionally, THE SCORPION KING is infused with good doses of humor; allowing it to follow the same kind of formula as the HERCULES: THE LEGENDARY JOURNEYS TV series, except with much higher production values. Director Chuck Russell keeps the film moving at rapid pace and he has staged the filmís numerous action sequences quite well. The cast of THE SCORPION KING also includes Steven Brand, Michael Clarke Duncan, Kelly Hu, Bernard Hill, Grant Heslov, Peter Facinelli, Ralph Moeller, Branscombe Richmond and Roger Rees.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has made THE SCORPION KING available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. The 1080p presentation of THE SCORPION KING isnít as jaw dropping as that of THE MUMMY or THE MUMMY RETURNS, but it is certainly no slouch by any stretch of the imagination. If you are a fan of THE SCORPION KING, then you are certain to be delighted by how great it looks on Blu-ray. Image sharpness, clarity, dimensionality and detail are all great. Even fine details, are rendered exceedingly well. Colors are fully saturated, rich and vibrant, while the flesh tones are always rendered in an appealing manner. Blacks are deep, whites are pure and the contrast is very good. Shadow detail is a tiny bit variable, but generally solid. The elements from which THE SCORPION KING have been transferred appear very clean, with an occasional blemish showing up. There is a fine veneer of grain that can be discerned during the presentation, which reminds one they are watching something that originated on film.

THE SCORPION KING is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. No surprises here, there is plenty of action during the course of THE SCORPION KING, so the movie is aggressively mixed and soundtrack kicks some serious butt. All of the discrete channels become fully engaged during the filmís numerous action sequences and sounds come flying at the view from all directions. Fidelity is really terrific on the DTS-HD track; the effects are convincing and the music has nice breadth. Additionally, the bottom end adds a weighty punch to the proceedings. French and Spanish DTS 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some nice extras. First of all, we have a running Audio Commentary with director Chuck Russell, who goes into a great deal of technical detail on the production. Universal's U-Control interface is utilized for an interactive version of the movie that provides in context picture-in-picture, pop-up supplements in relation to individual moments or sequences in the film (requires a Profile 1.1 player).

As mindless popcorn movies go, THE SCORPION KING is a whole lot of fun. Universalís Blu-Ray release delivers impressive visual and audio quality that makes for a highly enjoyable hi-def experience. Recommended.



The Scorpion King [Blu-ray] (2002)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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