By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
In practically every Scorpion King direct-to-video sequel made to date, there’s never been any authentic Middle Eastern flavour. The producers film in exotic countries that are not even near this troubled area. Either they have no clue in what to do next in this series or they are just trying to milk the pulp action aesthetic for all its worth with no signs of when Mathayus (now played by Victor Webster) will become king and lay siege to Thebes. This latest entry, The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power, arrives today in stores willing to carry this product.
A hero’s journey is needed before Mathayus can become even a man to rally behind. With most of the video releases, he’s mostly embarking on a world tour. Will that help him become a better king? Maybe. His reputation as the Scorpion King precedes him, and if he is going to be feared, he needs to develop that reputation further. He’s gone to the Far East and returned to Egypt, but the biggest question that needs to be asked with this fourth film is just where the heck is Norvania? Does this place even exist in historical maps? When this latest entry to the franchise includes nods to Germanic culture, Western style dragons and Zulu warriors, this movie is a head-scratcher.
Watching this film is like watching Conan the Barbarian and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade tossed into a melting pot. Mathayus has a lot to learn, especially when the course is now charted (from the third film) for the fact that one day, he will sell his soul to the Egyptian god of the dead, Anubis. With this movie, it’s like banking on his charm to try and get out of a sticky situation. He’s accused of murdering King Yannick (Michael Biehn) and nobody believes he’s been framed. It’s up to Valina (Ellen Hollman) and her oddball father Sorrell (Barry Bostwick) to help him find a powerful magical relic in order to reverse his fortunes. But when Drazen (Will Kemp) is making a power play by chasing after him to get the goods, obviously he’s not pure of heart.
Sadly, this film uses far too many chivalric ideals from medieval lore to teach Mathayus the ins and outs of being just. He is destined to fall, but until then he must not until he earns his wings, so to speak. When the story feels more like a medieval fantasy story with all the trappings surrounding the tale’s construction, there’s just no interest in keeping up with the Scorpion King’s exploits. It would have been more interesting to watch him deal with the Zulu tribes more than face off against a mechanical monster. Even then, there’s no real energy driving this film to the end.
If there’s only a way to bring Dwayne Johnson back to the role, perhaps closure for this franchise can be achieved. Even though Stephen Sommers is still listed as executive producer, it’s very unlikely he’s even offering any input as to how Mathayus will earn his pincers. This franchise has lost its sting.
2 Stars out of 5