Kingly Status (The Scorpion King, 2002)

Scorpion_King_PosterSo, in the Mummy Returns, the Scorpion King is a threat to the world, a servant of Anubis.  In this prequel, set well before that part of the story, the Scorpion King is more the underdog hero, seeking vengeance on the King responsible for the death of his brother.

Mathayus is a mercenary hired by free tribes to kill a sorcerer who works for the evil King Memnon.  The mission goes awry and his brother is killed.  Mathayus seeks vengeance and finds himself teamed up with happy fool Arpid.  When his attempt at assassination of Memnon is thwarted, he discovers the sorcerer is, in fact, a sorceress…and a beautiful one at that. He kidnaps her to use as a means of luring Memnon out into the open.

The Scorpion King is a pretty typical light fantasy film in the vein of Conan the Barbarian.  It does not get anywhere near as given to magical dealings as it’s Mummy brethren, the story hints of magic, but we do not see a lot of magic in practice.

The fights are pretty well choreographed, but the film lacks a lot of the humor of the Mummy franchise with only a few really funny moments.  This is probably one of the Rock’s most charmless roles. The female characters are treated as objects first…characters second.  This is unfortunate for Kelly Hu, as the film basically places it’s emphasis simply on how attractive she is.

The digital effects run from okay to pretty unimpressive.  There are digital snakes towards the end that look like cartoons.  Nothing about the film really stands out at all.  It remains a rather forgettable exercise, in spite of spawning three o it’s own sequels (all lacking Johnson).

 

Every Town Has an Elm Street Part 3 (A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3: Dream Warriors, 1987)

nightmare_on_elm_street_3_posterNow let us take a look at the third Elm Street Film.  The Dream Warriors is easily one of the best of the series and one of the best loved.  Dream Warriors deftly handles horror, fantasy, action and comedy in one solid package.  Not entirely surprising, the cooks include Wes Craven, Frank Darabont  (writer of Shawshank Redemption, Green Mile) and Chuck Russell (who also directed, he is primarily known for directing the Jim Carrey film the Mask).

It’s a pretty effective story.  The last remaining Elm Street kids have been institutionalized, suffering from horrific nightmares.  No one seems to know what to do, because, again, in horror movies?  Adults are dumb and do not listen to anyone.  They presume the kids are really just, you know, suicidal.  Because suicidal people always claim a guy is stalking them in thei9r dreams and trying to kill them.  And they tend to do so en mass.

But these kids are lucky, you see, Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) is back to save the franch-uh-  I mean, the kids.  She, with help from Dr. Neil (Craig Wasson, of Ghost Story, Body Double and most recently, Sasquatch Mountain), work against an uncaring world to save the kids.   They do not of course, because frankly, that would be a boring horror movie.  Instead, Freddy kills a few of the kids rather creatively.  Nancy discovers that young Kristen (played by young Patricia Arquette) can pull people into her dreams.  This manages to give the surviving kids an edge.

Nancy and the kids manage to fight back against Freddy, while Dr. Neil meets a mysterious nun who conveniently knows a lot about Fred Krueger.  We also see the return of Nancy’s pop, Donald (John Saxon).

At Nancy’s funeral, a heartbroken Dr. Neil receives another visit from mysterious old nun woman.  Dr. Neil follows her through the cemetary, where she disappears…but then Doctor Neil sees a headstone…the nun was the ghost of Amanda Krueger-FREDDY’S MOTHER!!!!

This film is notable for many reasons.  For instance, this film introduced the concept of the “dream power”, in which kids have a unique power-usually based in their self image- which they can use to fight Freddy.  The fourth and fifth films fail to put this to good use though.  It also introduces the back story for Freddy that he was the “Bastard Son of 100 Maniacs”.  His mother was a young nun who worked in an asylum and was locked up for a weekend with 100 depraved maniacs who raped her.

The film also introduced far more elaborate dream sequences.  The first two films had dream sequences that challenged you to figure out whether the character was asleep or awake.  In the Dream Warriors, the dreams are more fantasy adventures.  This is easily one of the top three films of the franchise, and worth watching, it is not scary, but it is full of adventure, fun, solid effects ( a very nice stop motion fight is reminiscent of Harryhausen) and pretty nicely played.

However, the film is also guilty of starting the film down the path the series took that bothered so many fans, specifically, Freddy the Comedian.  This is the film that gave us the line, “Welcome to Prime Time, Bitch!!!”  And while it works in this film, it clearly took the character down a road of self mockery.  So, in spite of the snark, I really do recommend this as a entertaining film to watch.

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