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Article

Scorpion King burning questions

EW.com tells you what you need to know about The Rock’s first starring role

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Darren Michaels

Long live Rock — be he dead or alive. After making a glorified cameo appearance in last year’s ”The Mummy Returns” (as a back-from-the-grave villain, no less) the WWF superstar flexes his sizable muscles as a full-fledged action hero in the prequel ”The Scorpion King.” Between the movie’s cloudy connection to the ”Mummy” franchise and the novelty of The Rock’s starring role, ”The Scorpion King” raises some burning questions ?- and EW.com gives you the answers (WARNING: Mild SPOILERS may follow).

Is The Rock’s Scorpion King the same character he played in ”The Mummy Returns”?

Maybe not. Though he looks the same, The Rock’s character (known here as Mathayus — he doesn’t become the Scorpion King until later) is a much more heroic figure in ”King” than in ”Mummy Returns,” where we saw him make a deal with an evil god to save his life. In fact, given the nobility Mathayus displays in ”The Scorpion King” — he saves women and children, and risks his life to defeat a tyrant — his transformation into a giant, computer-animated insect at the end of ”Mummy Returns” now seems downright undignified. Also, though The Rock grunted in a foreign language in ”Mummy Returns,” in ”The Scorpion King” he’s miraculously learned to speak English — like every other character in the film’s ancient Egyptian setting.

Is the movie packed with cheesy computer-generated effects like ”The Mummy Returns”?

No armies of the undead here. A swarm of computer-generated fire ants is about it. ”King” is more like an ’80s Arnold Schwarzenegger movie than either of the ”Mummy” films, with the focus on The Rock’s heroics (often shown in John Woo-like slo-mo). The real special effects are his biceps — and his occasional efforts to emote.

How many people does The Rock kill?

More than 100, but fewer than 1,000.

How often does the movie nod to The Rock’s WWF stardom?

The Rock employs his trademark lifted eyebrow once: when he accidentally finds himself in a harem. Though Mathayus’ primary modes of combat are with a sword or bow and arrow, there are many hand-to-hand fighting sequences that are not unlike wrestling. In one scene, The Rock and costar Michael Clarke Duncan grapple in front of a cheering, bloodthirsty crowd of tribesmen. Sound familiar?

Will audiences buy The Rock as a movie star?

Definitely, judging by reaction at a recent advance screening. The Rock’s Ah-nuld-like one-liners got laughs, and his butt-kicking (and -slicing) garnered cheers. The crowd did giggle at his discreet sex scene with costar Kelly Hu, and hiss at some over-the-top lines (”I’ve come for your woman — and your head”), but the overall response to his performance seemed respectful, if not worshipful.

Does the movie leave the door open for another sequel?

Of course. When it ends, there are years to go before the scenes we see at the beginning of ”The Mummy Returns” (Mathayus leading a conquering army). Though he’s crowned king by the end, it seems safe to say that there could be more Scorpion King tales to come — as long as audiences decide they like this one.