by Zani Tsabedze
The Scorpion King: Book of Souls is the 5th instalment in the Scorpion King franchise. Not very critically acclaimed or even recognised by a broad audience, it seems to be the franchises last instalment. It continues its tradition of introducing new characters and storylines from its prequels and its fantasy story maintains a balance between action, drama and comedic relief.
The main reason we got into this movie was the same reason most South Africans got into Blank Panther. Of course, we had to see and support our girl, Pearl. It’s not often that we see our local public figures in an international film franchise, so this was a definite must see for us. Not being major followers of the franchise, however, we did come across a few surprises; both pleasant and not too pleasant.
The first thing we absolutely loved about this instalment was how female it is. The cast and the story is led by Zach McGowan who plays the Scorpion King. He is a very reserved character that allows for other characters to outshine him with every interaction. And those that outshine him most are the fierce women.
The women in this film play important roles that drive the story forward. They are the oracles, the keepers of the most important treasures, the most skilled warriors – good and bad. The film sets a brilliant example to girls for what a Girl Boss is: a female who stands up and takes control of her own narrative.
Pearl’s character, which is what we came for, is a Nubian princess and fierce warrior. She looks great and executes an interesting accent. We enjoyed watching her take on this role and more-so appreciated that the producers were mindful enough to hire an African woman to play an “African” role. Representation is a common point of controversy in the film industry now and diverse groups demand to be represented accurately. So Scorpion King 5 definitely gets points for an attempt at authenticity.
The issues that kind of distracted from the story, which we won’t dwell too much on, were small details like computer graphics that weren’t convincing at all. Small details like that can make a world of difference, especially in a fantasy film of which the entire purpose is to transport us to another world. If I can clearly see where the real stuff meets the green screen effects, I’m immediately taken out of the experience. But I can understand that it wasn’t a very high budget instalment. It just would have taken the film to the next level and made it more exciting.
Another discouraging aspect of this instalment is the lack of publicity for it. It’s quite difficult to find anything about this movie online. There’s very little press, almost no reviews, the trailor isn’t very enticing, and its even difficult to find the actual movie anywhere. We watched it on a DVD that was purchased in the United States. How are people, especially South Africans, supposed to get interested in watching this movie? Too many of us don’t even know it exists.
If you can manage to get your hands on it, it’s not a bad time at all. It gets a Girl Boss stamp of approval, especially for its female empowerment and diversity.
Girl Boss rating: 6/10