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Pompeii - Movie Review


1 star

Fire, floods, and earthquakes, oh my!

Paul W.S. Anderson knows how to make a surface-level video game. That’s about all I can give him credit for with his new disaster-themed offering, Pompeii. It has the single-minded energy and all the glitter and gloss it needs to transport us to another time period but lacks direction enough to get from Point A to Point B without losing its way among all the lava and wide-open ditches. Living up to its title, Pompeii – even in 3D – never finds footing on stable ground.

Pompeii, starring weak hero Kit Harrington and flavorless heroine Emily Browning could have been improved with a visit from a Charlton Heston or, hell, George Kennedy type of actor. This shameless B-movie is both their territory and quickly sinks into the D-movie depths because no one “gets” what type of movie they are in. This is a matinee-minded “history” lesson for the digital generation and, worse than that, it is a tidal wave of clichés (delivered by confused actors) that not even a river of lava can melt. But no one will admit it.

Harrington and Browning meet in 79 A.D. – he is a slave and she a well-to-do daughter – and the stars align right before the fates do. Don’t come a-knockin’ if the earth itself is a-rockin’ and - whammo – it’s the fiery end. He must do above and beyond the call of duty in order to save his lady love from what amounts to the end of their world. For those who dare enter Pompeii, you get PG-13 sex, PG-13 action, and PG-13 exploding volcanoes in the PG-13 rated ancient world, what could possibly be wrong with this?

Well, plenty.

Yes, this is soap opera trash designed around a historical (and tragic) event and, unfortunately, we don’t care. The young actors aren’t helped by Keifer Sutherland’s villainous turn as the Roman villain either. There’s no camp and everyone – including Jared Harris – treats this material as if Shakespeare himself wrote it. He didn’t. And the film desperately needs the camp factor cranked up.

The film follows in the footsteps of other recent disaster motion pictures – Man of Steel included – and gives us scene after scene of endless, mind-numbing destruction and tries to even topple itself with crunch and crush as people and places are simply wiped off the face of the earth. Destruction isn’t kind. Mother Earth hates us. We get it already. Anderson has his doubts, though, and doesn’t cease reigning in the destruction until our eyes and even our ears are bleeding in 3D. Who needs story with all this annihilation?

Pompeii is more ridiculous than it is right.


[tab title="Film Details"]

Pompeii - Movie Review

 MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense battle sequences, disaster-related action and brief sexual content
98 mins
: Paul W.S. Anderson
Kit Harington, Emily Browning, Kiefer Sutherland
: Action | Adventure | History
No warning. No escape.
Memorable Movie Quote: "People of Pompeii, let the games begin"
TriStar Pictures
Official Site: http://pompeiimovie.tumblr.com/
Release Date: February 21, 2014
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available
Synopsis: Set in 79 A.D., POMPEII tells the epic story of Milo, a slave turned invincible gladiator who finds himself in a race against time to save his true love Cassia, the beautiful daughter of a wealthy merchant who has been unwillingly betrothed to a corrupt Roman Senator. As Mount Vesuvius erupts in a torrent of blazing lava, Milo must fight his way out of the arena in order to save his beloved as the once magnificent Pompeii crumbles around him..


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