Sunday, February 23

Pompeii Review

Dir: Paul W.S. Anderson
Starring: Kit Harrington, Emily Browning, and Kiefer Sutherland

There is a substantial amount of visually extravagance in Paul W.S. Anderson’s sword and sandal disaster film “Pompeii". Apart from that, the rest of the film is a mix of other films seen before, and executed better, than this one.  A volcano rains fire and ash while a tidal wave consumes a city all amidst a love story between a slave gladiator and the daughter of an aristocrat.  Anderson attempts to make this all into something interesting, but the disorganized narrative and overly familiar elements make for a disappointing experience.

The film begins with a massacre of a Celtic horse tribe by Roman soldiers. Milo (Kit Harrington) is the only survivor but is sold into slavery and forced to fight as a gladiator. While being transported for greater fighting potentials in Pompeii, Milo falls into the appreciation of Cassia (Emily Browning) who is traveling from Rome back to her governing noble family. Cassia is captivated by Milo and attempts to help him but Senator Corvus (Kiefer Sutherland), an enemy from Milo’s past, has come to Pompeii to take Cassia for his own.

Anderson’s film never finds handle on the numerous developments in the script. At one point it’s a story of a gladiator fighting for freedom, then it transitions into a romantic story about two people from different worlds, and then turns into an all out disaster film making it all feel like highlights from several different scripts. Most of these themes have been handled in better films; take for instance the tidal wave destruction straight out of “Day After Tomorrow” or the blatant copied structural formula from “Gladiator”.  It’s unfortunate that “Pompeii” never finds continuity from scene to scene because the special effects are good enough to provide the visual excitement to make it a 90 minute mindless entertainment film. Without the script providing a foundation for the action and special effects the film ends up being a varied and uninteresting collection of harvested past ideas.

Kit Harrington, known mostly for his role of Jon Snow from “Game of Thrones”, plays the physical aspects of the gladiator Milo quite well but struggles with the emotional aspects, though in his defense the script didn’t help much. Emily Browning is convincing as Cassia though she is not given enough time to develop the character beyond a few glancing moments with Milo and an aggressive scene with Senator Corvus. Their romance together comes along suddenly, as disaster forces Milo into action to save her, though it adds the needed device to force the film into the final battles of action. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is best in the film playing the supporting role of Atticus, a fellow slave and champion gladiator that offers camaraderie with Milo.

There is an exciting, if copied, moment involving an uneven arena battle for Milo and other gladiators in which Anderson displays his flair with action. Beyond that familiar scene, there isn’t much left in “Pompeii” that would propel it into the league of the films that inspired it.

Monte’s Rating

1.50 out of 5.00

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