|Scorpion King: Book of Souls
Directed by Don Michael Paul
Written by David Alton Hedges, Frank DeJohn
Starring Zach McGowan, Peter Mensah, Pearl Thusi
2018 turned out to be kind of bizarre for direct to video, as evidenced by the fact that, from out of nowhere, we got a Tremors sequel, a Death Race sequel, and, perhaps most inexplicable of all, a Children of the Corn sequel. Well, brace yourselves, kiddos, because 2019 is about to dawn just a little weirder than most as they put out one more sequel I didn't see coming: Scorpion King: Book of Souls.
Yes, the Mummy spinoff is back because reasons and please don't ask me what they are because I'm really kind of terrified that this is all some kind of Mandela effect nonsense. Anyway, this time, the Spinoff King--er, the Scorpion King, rather--is getting together with Tala, the sister of the Nubian King, to go and pursue a relic known as--as you may have guessed from the title--the Book of Souls, which is effectively little more than a power battery to a separate relic known as the Fang of Anubis, a sword of immense power that's driven by the souls of those who were killed by it. The sword, meanwhile, is currently in the hands of a warlord who's using it to march a trail of hot death across the general Egypt-ish area. With the book, however, the warlord's path can be shut down and the area thus improved.
I give them credit, because they put a lot into this. Plenty of fights, plenty of action, a few good laughs and all the violence you can stand. The action choreography here is downright impressive, and they've really put the sound cues to work here. They've got a straight-up gateway to the Nether from Minecraft sitting out in the desert as a plot device, for crying out loud. That takes some serious cinematic balls to crib from a construction video game. Even finding the book will require a scene that's one part Indiana Jones, one part Army of Darkness, and one part Incredible Hulk.
That, however, is where their credit runs out. Scorpion King: Book of Souls is a loud, disjointed mess of a film. There's a lot going on, which is great, but it doesn't connect to much of a plot. Get the book / kill the villain isn't exactly what you'd call complex, which doesn't give them a lot of room to work with. Thus, what we're left with is a whole lot of awesome that's been hung from a structure so bare bones that it's virtually nonexistent. Thus, some plot holes are pretty substantial here, including how the whole "curse" part of the Fang of Anubis works.
But then, we didn't really come here for a story. Most people who picked this up, probably for a rental--seriously, this is not worth buying in the least--want to see a hundred-odd minutes of action and fantasy mayhem. Certainly, it will provide as much, but that's about all it's going to provide. Don't look here for clever twists or for much beyond a moment's entertainment.
The ending is everything you'd expect from a movie like this, pretty much to the inch, complete with callbacks to earlier titles and a ride off into the sunset.
Special features are limited to English, Spanish or French audio and subtitles.
Scorpion King: Book of Souls is not impressive, nor is it unique. It's a by-the-numbers fantasy action title that will go all out, but only in directions so well-trod that even the most ardent fan must question if they're still worth going down at all.