A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Scorpion King is a 2002 action fantasy movie in which Dwayne Johnson plays a warrior seeking revenge for his brother's death at the hands of a ruthless king. There's a lot of action violence and frequent death, but there isn't much blood and there's no gore. Furthermore, the cheesiness of turn-of-the-century CGI special effects lessens the terror in, say, watching a man getting killed by an attacking swarm of red ants. There are some vivid and demonic images, including attacking cobras, an impaled body, and a dead child. And there are very vivid sound effects making on- and off-screen violence more explicit with spurting and squishing sounds. There are sexual references and innuendo, and non-explicit sexual situations, including two women in a man's bed. There are no four-letter words, but there is some profanity, such as "yak piss." A woman emerges from a bath naked with her long hair strategically covering her breasts.
What's the story?
Some very scary-looking guys are about to kill a guy who would be even scarier-looking if he wasn't tied up. But then everyone steps back in awe of a guy who steps in looking scariest of all and as they hesitate, he cocks an eyebrow and says simply, "Boo." That is the Rock (WWF star Dwayne Johnson) and he plays Mathayus, the title role, in this prequel to the Mummy movies, giving us the background of the character who appeared briefly but memorably in the second one as half-man, half very large bug. In THE SCORPION KING, Mathayus and two others are hired by local tribes to kill the evil tyrant Memnon (Steven Brand).
Is it any good?
This action movie doesn't pretend to having anything like the wit and charm of the Mummy movies, which were a loving tribute to Saturday morning serials. But it works pretty well, largely due to its star. The Rock has genuine screen presence. He even manages most of the material better than Michael Clarke Duncan who is just too much of an actor to deliver the cheesy dialogue with the right mix of sincerity and irony, and Peter Facinelli, whose thin-voiced delivery doesn't convey the necessary petulant malevolence.
There is one innovation worth mentioning. In action movies, the hero is almost always stoic, even when he gets hurt. Think of Rambo sewing up his own wounds. But the Rock, carrying over the conventions of professional wrestling, grimaces in pain when he gets hurt. It doesn't rise to the level of acting, but in a funny way it adds some heart to the story.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Memnon's claim that order was better than freedom in The Scorpion King. They may also want to talk about how the sorceress protected herself from Memnon.
How was violence presented in the movie? Did the lack of blood and gore in the battle and death scenes inadvertently glamorize violence as something without much consequence, or did it simply prevent the movie from being more of a bloodbath than anything else?
Action movies of all stripes from the late 1990s and early 2000' are characterized as having bombastic production values, CGI effects galore, fast-paced edits, and unusual camera angles. How does this movie fit the way action movies were done at that time? How does this compare with the way action movies are made today, or were made in previous decades?
- In theaters: April 19, 2002
- On DVD or streaming: October 1, 2002
- Cast: Dwayne The Rock Johnson, Kelly Hu, Michael Clarke Duncan
- Director: Chuck Russell
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses and Fairies, Sports and Martial Arts, Adventures, Horses and Farm Animals, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 92 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: violence and sexual situations
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.