Franchise Weekend – The Scorpion King: Quest for Power (2015)

Director: Mike Elliott

Writer: Michael Weiss (Screenplay)

Starring: Victor Webster, Ellen Hollman, Will Kemp, Barry Bostwick, Rutger Hauer, Michael Biehn, M Emmet Walsh

 

Plot: When he is betrayed by a trusted friend, Mathayus must marshal all his strength and cunning to outwit a formidable opponent who will stop at nothing to unlock a supreme ancient power.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Flat-Out Comedy Now

 

Story: The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power starts with Mathayus (Webster) and his apprentice Drazen (Kemp) looking to steal an ancient artefact which will give whoever holds it great power but Skizurra (Ferrigno) proves to be formidable opponent for Mathayus, but he finds himself betrayed by Drazen.

Failing his mission Mathayus is sent by King Zakkour (Hauer) to offer a peace agreement with King Yannick (Biehn) the father Drazen. When the king is murdered with scorpions, Mathayus must go on the run with Valina (Hollman) to work with her father Sorrell (Bostwick) to stop Drazen from unlocking the secret ancient power that can bring down the kingdoms.

 

Thoughts on The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power

 

Characters/PerformanceMathayus is now once again a warrior for hire, we learn no reason or story to how he lost the kingdom he earnt at the end of the last film. he gets betrayed again before going on the mission. Valina is the feisty woman this time trying to go against tradition and be a warrior leader with Drazen being the power-hungry villain. The fellow character all add laughs without doing too much for the story.

Performance wise, Victor Webster has made this role his own and hands the comical side of this film, Ellen Hollman is fine in the leading role but it would be say she is the weakest of the leading ladies of the franchise. Will Kemp does bring certain credibility back to the villainous role but how can anyone be worse than Billy Zane. The rest of the cast all do well throughout.

StoryThe story is good even if they do forget to explain why Mathayus is no longer king again, we get everything we need for an adventure but the biggest positive for me was the balancing of science version myth which I have found other films have attempted and failed, this film gets it about right.

Action/AdventureThe action is fine just lots of hand to hand combat which is fine without being anything impressive but the adventure does feel like a lot more fun.

SettingsThe settings confused at times because we seem to have got past the idea of sand and heading into the woods because filming in Romania is cheap.

Special EffectsThe special effects are weak through the film which does take certain moments away from the final film.

Final ThoughtsThis film was better than certain comedies I saw from this year and the adventure is fine but it just doesn’t feel like a Scorpion King movie anymore.

 

Overall: Comical sequel that should be fun to watch if watched as a comedy.

Rating

 

 

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Franchise Weekend – The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption (2012)

Director: Roel Reine

Writer: Brendan Cowles, Shane Kuhn (Screenplay) Randall McCormick (Story)

Starring: Victor Webster, Billy Zane, Ron Perlman, Selina Lo, Dave Bautista, Krystal Vee

 

Plot: Since his rise to power, Mathayus’ kingdom has fallen. Now an assassin for hire, he must defend a kingdom from an evil tyrant and his ghost warriors for the chance to regain the power and glory he once knew.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Funnier Sequel

 

Story: The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption starts where a disgraced Mathayus (Webster) is in search of a worthy death not that he has lost his kingdom and love, now he fights for money and honour with Horus (Perlman) hiring him to take out his brother Talus (Zane) a man trying to conquer the land. Mathayus is sent with European warrior Olaf (Christopher) who helps save a princess Silda (Vee) for King Ramusan (Morrison).

But this easy looking adventure takes a turn in the search for Cobra before Mathayus must come up against ghost warriors in Argomael (Bautista), Zulu Kondo (Ferguson), Tsukai (Lo) to free the kingdom from war.

 

Thoughts on The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption

 

Characters/PerformanceMathayus is now older which is good because now this is a sequel to the original as we see how he has fallen from grace but is still a brilliant warrior. Silda is the plucky warrior woman starting her own revolution against the evil ruler. With Talus being the over the top cowardly ruler that will never get his hands dirty. Olaf adds most of the laughs in this film with the ghost warriors all have a great look about them.

Performance wise, Victor Webster is solid in the leading role being an improvement on the last outing but never reaching Johnson level. Krystal Vee makes for yet another beautiful warrior but Billy Zane is way to over the top for this role. The early role for Dave Bautista does show how far he has come though. If you are looking to see a lot of Ron Perlman you will be disappointed.

StoryThe story follows what happens once Mathayus has fallen from the top returning to his warrior ways for money. Finding him stuck between two sides in the battle also works and it could be argued that this is the best story yet from a Scorpion King film.

Action/AdventureThe action is almost painfully choregraphed with the adventure side of the film going the wrong direction. The fantasy side does work in places with the ghost warriors.

SettingsThe settings once more could have just been anywhere with no location sticking out.

Special EffectsThe special effects are fine as the film cuts back on them mostly returning just to hand to hand combat.

Final ThoughtsThis story is good but the poorly directed action, poor acting and repetitive action gets tiresome quickly.

 

Overall: Another part of this franchise where you don’t need to see anything else beforehand.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – The Scorpion King: Rise of a Warrior (2008)

Director: Russel Mulcahy

Writer: Randall McCormick (Screenplay) Stephen Sommers (Characters)

Starring: Michael Copon, Randy Couture, Natalie Becker, Karen David, Simon Quarterman, Tom Wu, Andreas Wisniewski

 

Plot: In Ancient Akkad, Mathayus grows up as the proud son of Ashur, a captain in the world-renowned military corps of Black Scorpions, first-rate bodyguards, most of which are sent to courts wide away. By objecting to young Mathayus joining the corps, Ashur incurs the undying enmity of ruthless generalissimo Sargon, gets killed and the orphaned knave is shipped off to a desolate training camp for six years by king Hammurabi’s clemency. When he returns as a Black Scorpio, Sargon has bloodily seized the throne and demands cruel proof of blind loyalty. Mathayus refuses, becoming a chased hero. With youth friends, the resourceful Greek Pollux and various mercenary warriors, he embarks on a daring quest to obtain a legendary sword from Sargon’s magical ally, the war-goddess Astarte.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Re-Writing Mythology Sequel

 

Story: The Scorpion King: Rise of a Warrior starts with an origin story, yay, Mathayus’ father Ashur was part of the elite warriors known as thee Black Scorpions but objects of his son following in his footsteps but after Mathayus finds himself training under the ruthless general Sargon (Couture) making an early enemy within the kingdom. When his father is killed by Sargon, Mathayus has no proof, so he sets out to prove himself by learning the ways of the Black Scorpions, but upon his return Sargon has risen to power.

When Mathayus (Copon) refuses to surround blind loyalty to Sargon, he learns the strength he posses with the dark arts and must train to return to bring down the tyrant Sargon with the help of friends along the way including old friend Layla (David), Ari (Quarterman) and Pollux (Wisniewski) who must first fight against the Minotaur.

 

Thoughts on The Scorpion King: Rise of a Warrior

 

Characters/PerformanceMathayus is the young warrior trained in the art of the Black Scorpion which again goes against everything we have learnt in the first two films. But away from these strange new character developments, he is mostly just a warrior seeking revenge for the murder of his father. Layla is the strong adventurous woman that wants to be a warrior and love interest for Mathayus. Sargon is the deadly warrior who has become king, he has used the dark magic to gain his power and makes for a great opposition for Mathayus.

Performance wise, Copon doesn’t reach the levels we have come to expect from this character with Johnson’s ability in the leading role. Karen David is good in the lead lady role with Couture struggling to make the impact with his villainous role but he can handle the fights well.

StoryLooking at the story, we get a prequel to the prequel that was involving a character from a sequel, yeah it is getting confusing already. This time Mathayus gets trained by the Black Scorpions and works under a king in what is a flat-out revenge adventure action fantasy film. we dive into a mix of mythologies now mixing Greek and Egyptian and a deadlier villain. It works as a one of film but as a sequel it is almost irrelevant.

Action/Adventure The action is plenty of combat scenes which all are fine without being anything special with the adventure being to the underworld and back which does make for a good fantasy side to everything.

SettingsThe settings all look fine but you don’t identify with enough of them for the ancient world.

Special EffectsThe weakest of all here are the special effects that are nearly all awful looking CGI.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fine starter for an action adventure on low budget but as a sequel/prequel it goes in the wrong direction for me.

 

Overall: Easy to watch action adventure.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – The Scorpion King (2002)

Director: Chuck Russell

Writer: Stephen Sommers, William Osborne, David Hayter (Screenplay) Stephen Sommers, Jonathan Hales (Story)

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Steven Brand, Michael Clarke Duncan, Kelly Hu, Bernard Hill, Grant Heslov

 

Plot: A desert warrior rises up against the evil army that is destroying his homeland. He captures the enemy’s key sorcerer, takes her deep into the desert and prepares for a final showdown.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Action Adventure

 

Story: The Scorpion King starts in a world where tyrant Memnon (Brand) is taking over the land with ease, killing anyone who goes against him with his Sorceress (Hu) by his side everybody fears him. When the last remaining leaders Balthazar (Duncan), Queen Isis (Howard), King Pheron (Rees) Takmet (Facinelli) want to end his dominate destruction they hire Mathayus (Johnson) and his brother Jesup (Richmond) to kill the Sorceress who is helping Memnon on his rampage.

When Mathayus is betrayed the Sorceress spares him being killed at the hands of any of Memnon men’s hands, he finds himself in a sticky situation where trickster Arpid (Heslov) aids his escape. Mathayus sets out to bring down Memnon and save the land, the Sorceress while teaming up with a range of former enemies fighting the biggest common enemy.

 

Thoughts on The Scorpion King

 

Characters/PerformanceMathayus is an elite warrior assassin, so basically nothing like the Scorpion King in the Mummy Returns. He has honour and will fight against all odds for his family, freedom and mostly money. Memnon is a hands-on tyrant warrior who kills anyone who doesn’t follow him, he is the lands best swordsman and we see this in his combat against Mathayus but his weakness is believing in a Sorceress visions. I liked that he is happy to fight against any enemy, this is rare in action adventure films. The Sorceress sees how the fights are going to end, only she doesn’t because her visions don’t come true. Balthazar is a strong leader who is willing to fight up against a worthy opponent. The rest of the character all fit what you expect, the comic relief, the crazy old guy, the betraying son, the henchman the list goes on.

Performance Wise, this film was designed to make Dwayne Johnson look like a new action star, Brand is good as the villain but isn’t the worst for the action genre, with Kelly Hu being the beautiful sorceress works for the film.

StoryThe story is easy to follow as long as you are not looking to learn more about the Mummy Returns character because this guy is a hero. When you look into just this story we get a basic action adventure showing the rise of a warrior uniting a nation.

Action/AdventureThe action is all fun with plenty of hand to hand, sword fights and stealth like action going on through the wild adventure. The fantasy side brings up the mythology behind how Scorpion King came to be, again going against the original idea behind the character.

SettingsThe settings bring us to a land of sand and Gods which works but doesn’t create anything iconic.

Special EffectsThe special effects are all fine but don’t get used too often.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun, easy to watch action adventure film that can be enjoyed as you see Dwayne Johnson on his first steps in leading actor.

 

Overall: Sit back, relax and enjoy.

Rating

 

 

Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Horror – The Frankenstein Theory (2013)

Director: Andrew Weiner

Writer: Vlady Pildysh, Andrew Weiner (Screenplay) Mary Shelley (Characters)

Starring: Kris Lemche, Roger W Morriessey, Timothy V Murphy, Heather Stephens, Christine Lakin, Luke Geissbuhler

 

Plot: What if the most chilling novel of all time was actually based on a true account of a horrific experiment gone awry? When he is suspended from his university job for his outlandish ideas, Professor John Venkenheim leads a documentary film crew to the rim of the Arctic Circle in a desperate effort to vindicate his academic reputation. His theory: Mary Shelley’s ghastly story, “Frankenstein,” is, in fact, a work of non-fiction disguised as fantasy. In the vast, frozen wilderness, Venkenheim and his team search for the legendary monster, a creature mired in mystery and drenched in blood. What they find is an unspeakable truth more terrifying than any fiction…a nightmare from which there is no waking.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Smart Idea, Generically Told

 

Story: The Frankenstein Theory starts as Jonathan Venkenhein (Lemche) is looking to lead a documentary film crew including Vicky Stephens (Stephens), Brian (Henderson), Eric (Zuckerman) and Luke Hill (Geissbuhler) to the Arctic in search for his grandfather research that claims that the story of Frankenstein is in fact real.

Joined by local guide Karl McCallion (Murphy) the team head in from Canada to the Arctic circle. As the group spend time together we learn more about the case they are investigating which could be just a bear that has been attacking people or could the creature be real and are these film makers ready for what they find?

 

Thoughts on The Frankenstein Theory

 

Characters/PerformanceJonathan Venkenhein believes his ancestor was the real-life creature of the Frankenstein’s creature and now he wants to head off with a team to learn the truth, he is fully committed to believing his story putting his professional and personal life on the line. Vicky is the one hosting the documentary hoping it will be her big break. Karl is the guide that is filled with the warning about being in the wilderness alone. The rest of the team is who would expect, the cameraman, sound man and co-producer.

Performance wise, The cast are all good in their roles without any being brilliant but nobody being bad.

StoryI must say this story comes off like a smart idea because we always can have somebody look into a work of fiction and dive into the truth behind the story. This time we look at the idea that Frankenstein’s story is real and the creature is still lurking in the Arctic. With the idea in place and being something that is interesting, we do end up going down the Blair Witch route of just having ideas borrowed from other found footage films and the Creature acting just like Bigfoot.

Fantasy/Horror/Sci-Fi The fantasy idea of this film comes from bring the fictional story into reality, the horror side comes from all the found footage material we have seen before, the sci-fi side comes from the idea that this once again isn’t just a fictional story.

SettingsBeing set in the Arctic is fine because our characters have nowhere to run with all the terror going on and it shows the environment the creature could be living in.

Special EffectsMost of the violence happens off came so we do get good use of effects on the remains but the film doesn’t need them.

Final ThoughtsThis is a solid addition to the found footage genre as the film does feel like it flows nicely.

 

Overall: Found Footage 101.

Rating