Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption (2012) Review:

When Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson took the role as the Scorpion King in Stephen Sommers' The Mummy Returns (2001), it's hard to say whether viewers thought a series would continue this far. The first film wasn't cinematic gold, but it had charm for varying instances. The sequel prequel that came after it though was a step down from it. Not only was it boring but the story line didn't feel believable. Plus new characters were introduced that would not return in the films chronology. There was no point in it. As for continuing it, if the film makes money, of course make more entries. As much as a mess the last film was, the producers were smart enough to release it in the home video market. If this was released theatrically, these films would be doing a lot worse financially. For this third film in the series the quality to this has slightly improved but still has its problems. Thankfully of all things, this installment is not another prequel. Otherwise this timeline would be all screwed up.

"Hmmm,...not sure I'm ready for this"
Although it has 3 in its title, this is a sequel to the first Scorpion King (2002). After the decimation of his people and his wife from a mysterious plague, the Scorpion King (Victor Webster) goes back to his roots as a mercenary. On his travels, he is hired by King Horus (Ron Perlman) to infiltrate and stop his jealous brother Talus (Billy Zane) from invading his territory. Talus' wants to conquer Horus' land with the book of the dead. He can only do this by taking over Ramusan's (Temuera Morrison) land, while holding his daughter Silda (Krystal Vee) hostage. Teaming up with the Scorpion King is Olaf (Bostin Christopher) who was also sent by Horus for no other reason than he fights well. Written by Shane Kuhn and Brendan Cowles, the script is still fairly senseless but does manage to build on past stories than deconstruct them. For one thing, the continuity is explained as to what happened to the Scorpion King's wife and the people that followed him. It's not very specific but it is mentioned so that's a plus.

Roel Reiné was the director for this feature and how its handled is also a tad better. Instead of slowly moving from one task to the next, different situations ensue. Both Cowles and Kuhn have worked before with Reiné on other projects together so perhaps this is why the story has better flow. Roel Reiné has directed many other sequels like Death Race 2 (2010), The Man With the Iron Fists 2 (2015) and Hard Target 2 (2016). However even with forgivable continuity, the screenplay goes on to fail in other spots. One of the biggest flaws are various physical impossibilities. Some of it really just doesn't make any sense. A character's ear is ripped off by someone's hand. How is somebody that strong? Another character gets severely injured but has no problems later on. Nobody can heal that fast. Another problem is the acting of characters. Bostin Christopher as Olaf had some moments of comedic value but all he does it make the film feel like a bad buddy film. His dialog is also too contemporary for ancient times.

As for acting, Billy Zane chews the scenery every time he's on screen. As a villain, he comes off more as a parody to an antagonist than an actual threat. Sometimes this is funny but overall it feels out of place. Ron Perlman and Temuera Morrison are both underplayed and are not that interesting. Thankfully Victor Webster as the new Scorpion King tries to make his role his own. Not every line he says comes off forced but occasionally it doesn't sound right. For one thing, he at least looks similar to Dwayne Johnson. Krystal Vee as the daughter Ramusan is okay in her performance. She too has more personality than most and has sufficient chemistry with Webster. As for her development, its overused plot threads but at least its identifiable. There's also appearances from Dave Bautista, Kevin 'Kimbo Slice' Ferguson and Selina Lo as spirits to the book of the dead. They however have very little development. The original story writer was Randall McCormick who did the last film.

Krystal Vee
The action sequences to the film were well staged although they had one drawback. That being that in almost every scene that involved action, had multiple slow motion shots. This happened frequently and it felt like in some ways, the film was just buying time. It looks good, but too much of it loses the spectacle. Working as cinematographer was also Roel Reiné. For a while the setting was in the desert but it quickly shifts to jungle brush. This is okay but it's a bit disorienting. Nevertheless the picture looks good in its display. Very little of it seems fake except for a few shots. Roel Reiné has done almost as much cinematography as he's done his own projects. The music was composed by Trevor Morris. Another Roel Reiné collaborator, Morris has done more TV scores than theatrical films however the sound is decent considering it being a DVD release. However it is odd that no official score was released when every other Scorpion film in this series has one. Really weird.

While it may be somewhat better than the film before it, it's not by a large amount. Victor Webster as the new Scorpion King is a suitable replacement. However much of the other actors involved seem less invested. The script tries to build on the first film but retreads familiar territory.

Points Earned --> 5:10

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