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The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption(2011)
In a dangerous, action-packed battle to regain his glory and reclaim the empire, Mathayus’s journey is steeped in intrigue, sorcery and romance, fueling this new film that spawned from the billion-dollar The Mummy film franchise. The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption tops the series once again, featuring even more of the heart-stopping action, mind-bending stunts and astonishing plot twists that have earned the series millions of fans the world over.
For more about The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption and the The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption Blu-ray release, see the The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on January 9, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Director: Roel Reiné
Writers: Brendan Cowles, Shane Kuhn
Starring: Victor Webster, Ron Perlman, Billy Zane, Bostin Christopher, Temuera Morrison, Krystal Vee
» See full cast & crew
The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption Blu-ray Review
"Heh! Did you bathe in camel dung this morning?"
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, January 9, 2012
Before disemboweling The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption and mounting its entrails as a warning to the two or three sequels that will almost certainly follow, I feel compelled to defend director Roel Reiné, if only so the poor man doesn't draw unwarranted comparisons to Uwe Boll and other kings of direct-to-video schlock. Whatever its faults, Reiné's Death Race 2 was at least a competently shot and staged film, and a mild to moderate success for Universal. (Death Race: Inferno is already in the pipeline, helmed by -- you guessed it -- the studio's favorite Dutch filmmaker.) To his credit, Reiné works relative wonders with The Scorpion King 3, and with a fraction of the support, financial and otherwise. Battle for Redemption was already a bottom-drawer project at Universal, one that barely had the cash necessary to sustain pre-production, much less the shoestring-budget shoot and non-stop action he manages to conjure out of thin air. Don't misunderstand: The Scorpion King 3 is awful; a franchise abomination that's almost, almost more atrocious than its 2008 predecessor. It shouldn't exist, at least not in its current incarnation, and it shouldn't be sitting in as many Amazon shopping carts as it is. Still, basement-budget as it may be, disappointing as even the most zealous Mummy franchise fans will rightfully declare it, Universal could have enlisted far worse directors than Reiné, the MacGyver of underfunded, overblown direct-to-video productions.
Add Ron Perlman to the list of the Scorpion King misfits I feel compelled to defend. Easily the most un-Egyptian Egyptian ruler to grace the small screen since the '30s or '40s, Perlman made me smile, even though he's clearly on board to cover a few car payments and score a trip to Asia. Little else could explain his asleep-at-the-wheel turn as Horus, a powerful but pouty Egyptian king who acquires the help of fallen warrior Mathayus (Victor Webster, replacing Michael Copon and, more importantly, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson). Alas, Mathayus' mission is as muddy as the film's setup, which has something to do with the fabled Book of the Dead, although I'm having a hard time remembering much of anything about the plot. It's also as overwrought and incoherent as screenwriters Brendan Cowles and Shane Kuhn's pork-fisted dialogue, but more in that in a bit. Rounding out the cast? Billy Zane wanders on set and chews scenery as an evil megalomaniac named Talus (why Battle for Redemption's big bad is any more of an unsavory tyrant than Horus is never really made entirely clear), Otis's Bostin Christopher bumbles from ancient ruin to ancient ruin as Mathayus' drunken tag along, Attack of the Clones' Temuera Morrison appears as another king vying for his share of the old world, former WWE world champion Dave Batista and UFC street fighter Kevin 'Kimbo Slice' Ferguson show up long enough to tussle with Webster, and Selina Lo and Krystal Vee flaunt their wares as the sequel's obligatory eye-candy.
I searched Battle for Redemption for a hook; a solid idea that might account for the studio's eagerness to take another stab at the Mummy spin-off series. But it turns out it wasn't eagerness at all. After handing over Death Race 2 to Universal, Reiné was handed a list of possible projects to peruse. The Scorpion King 3 jumped out at him (for whatever reason) and the studio, apparently less-than-enthused, saddled him with a budget he was then instructed to keep a secret. (He hints at it being $5 million in his director's commentary, although it wouldn't surprise me to learn he was working with $4 million or so.) Reiné, though, is more of a technical filmmaker than a quote-unquote artist; a trouble-shooter who genuinely enjoys tackling impossible projects and proving himself and his skill set to the powers that be. Of course, therein lies many of The Scorpion King 3's problems. It wasn't a passion project for the studio or the director, it doesn't stretch the series beyond being the first true Scorpion sequel (the second film was a prequel), it's built on the back of a sub-bargain-bin script, its visual effects sputter and putter, its performances are sometimes laughably bad (Christopher nearly puts a bullet in Redemption's head), and its fight choreography -- courtesy of Batman Begins' Jimmy Khaowwong and Ong Bak's Seng Sirikanerut -- is about the only thing the film has going for it beyond Reiné's technical know-how, sense of semi-grand scale and knack for wrangling crowds of extras, war elephants and antsy tigers.
Not that Reiné is blameless in the Redemption debacle. Armed with $50 million he could probably sit proud and pretty on the popcorn-pulp platform Paul W.S. Anderson has erected for himself. That said, Reiné cops to making The Scorpion King 3 his own; a troubling admission considering how completely pleased he is with aspects of the film other directors would have left on the cutting room floor. He subscribes to the "faster, louder, more intense" school of cinematic thought, yet doesn't quite grasp how to elevate genre junk with any prevailing style. He tinkers, welds, fuses and repurposes with ease, milking every last dime in his production wallet for all it's worth. But shrewd penny pinching only goes so far. Without an ear for sharp dialogue and deft delivery, he fails to draw decent performances out of his actors; even Perlman and Zane, the veterans of the bunch. Without much of a governing franchise vision, he fails to create a worthwhile franchise entry, a standalone action comedy, or a more engrossing visual spectacle; low budget or no. And with a twitchy hand behind the camera, he fails to transfer the fun and chemistry that fills his sets to the screen. Digging through the special features (misleading as production EPKs tend to be), everyone short of Perlman looks as if they're having a grand old time. It's apparent the actors know they're not making a summer blockbuster, a diamond in the rough or the next great actioner, sure, but Reiné's troops are a faithful lot and, if nothing else, look like they get a kick out of coming to work in the morning. (Quoth Webster: "every day is a surprise.")
If only Reiné's chummy demeanor and resourcefulness amounted to more. I know, I know. At this point, I'm practically apologizing for the man. Truth be told, I'm having a tough time ripping into him. I'm sure others won't be so kind, though, and for good reason. By the time the credits set on Battle for Redemption, Reiné and his cast are in desperate need of their own shot at redemption; one I suspect Universal will be quick to offer them (no matter how unlikely it is that the same team could suddenly unearth gold). After all, anyone who can produce this much movie with so little cash doesn't have to worry about finding work in Hollywood.
The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption isn't a pretty film, by any means. It has the same muted, glossy digital video look as many a low-budget direct-to-video sequel, and there isn't a lot to compliment, at least not on an aesthetic level. Colors are dull and diluted, skintones are washed out, black levels rarely dip below charcoal or iron kettle, and contrast is weak and sun-bleached. But I have no doubt Universal's 1080p/VC-1 presentation is (presumably) a near-perfect representation of the film's source. Detail is strong and closeups are even stronger, edge definition is crisp and clean, fine textures are neither smeared nor indistinct, and delineation is revealing (albeit to a fault). Even Reiné's dingy, at-times soulless palette is consistent and proficiently preserved, without so much as a burst of artifacting to complain about. There are some digital anomalies to be found, but most -- if not all -- appear amidst Redemption's shoddy visual effects, which suggests, again, that almost every issue that appears is source-based, not the product of a mediocre transfer. The Scorpion King 3 may look like a bargain-bin reject, but its high definition presentation is technically sound.
The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Redemption's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is more difficult to evaluate. I'm guessing it, like Universal's video transfer, is an accurate representation of Reiné's intentions, but with so many fundamental flaws, audiophiles will find the experience grating. Dialogue rises and falls as often as dear Mathayus, and prioritization is spotty at best. Voices range from thin and tinny to bright and bold to hollow and distant, sometimes in the span of a single battle scene. The thunder of battle and the roar of magic is suitably supported by the LFE channel and rear speakers, but with little regard to the less bombastic elements in the soundscape. Directionality draws attention but never graduates beyond artificial, pans bobble between smooth and rickety, and dynamics are hit or miss. Again, though, the majority of the mix's shortcomings strike me as a product of haphazard sound design, not a poorly produced lossless track. Ultimately, The Scorpion King 3 somehow manages to sound cheaper than it looks, regardless of how much soundfield pomp and low-end power kick in on occasion.
The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
"I've got a bad feeling about this," uttered the unfortunate fellow who decided to join me in watching The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption. "Star Wars?" I asked with a smile, catching what I assumed was a familiar movie reference. "Oh, no. I just really have a bad feeling about this," he replied. Our worst fears were confirmed within minutes, I'm afraid, and the prospect of a so-bad-it's-good B-movie crumbled before our eyes as Redemption dove off the Cliffs of Unwatchability. If I didn't have a job to do, I don't think we would have made it past the twenty minute mark. So how does the Blu-ray release fare? I'll wager director Roel Reiné's audio commentary will strike you as the most entertaining thing on the disc... if, that is, you're willing to soil your Blu-ray player for another 105 minutes to listen to it. Universal's video presentation is excellent... if you overlook its problematic source and the film's ungainly, unpleasant digital photography. And its DTS-HD Master Audio track delivers... a slippery sonic experience with more innate oddities than I care to count. In sickness and in health, the Blu-ray edition of The Scorpion King 3 is a technically proficient eye-and-earsore. Fans -- the few that will admit it anyway -- will be the only ones who enjoy everything this one has in store.
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The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Exclusive Giveaway: Scorpion King 3 Prizes - January 5, 2012
Blu-ray.com and Universal Studios Home Entertainment are offering five Blu-ray.com members the opportunity to win one of five Scorpion King 3 prizes. One grand prize winner will receive an autographed movie poster and Blu-ray copies of all three Scorpion King films, ...
• The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption Blu-ray - October 13, 2011
Next year, Universal Home Entertainment will bring The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption to Blu-ray. The third entry in The Scorpion King franchise, the film stars Victor Webster (Surrogates) as dethroned king Mathayus who begins a perilous quest to reclaim ...
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