Dir. by Paul. W.S. Anderson - 1 hr. 45 min.
Official Trailer #2
by Clayton Hollifield
First, a question:
Yeah. Yeah, I kind of do. I'm not even sure I saw a trailer for "Pompeii," but if I did, it was probably all about the mountain blowing up, hence the title. I didn't know anyone who was in it (I mean, I recognized people as I was going along, but going in...), didn't know who had directed it, just knew that the mountain was going to blow up. And that was good enough for me, at least in terms of catching a spectacle movie at the three dollar theatre. So I was pleasantly surprised to get not only a disaster-porn film, but a gladiator movie, too!
Milo (adult version - Kit Harington) is a little kid who sees his entire Celt clan wiped out by Roman swords, but escapes the massacre by playing dead. He tries to survive on his own, but eventually is caught and enslaved, where he grows up to be a very fierce warrior, and is eventually pressed into service as a gladiator by Graecus (Joe Pingue), where he will have to face Atticus (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), who is one win away from being lawfully granted his freedom. But first, Milo proves that the way to a woman's heart is through her horses, and the forbidden romance between Milo and Cassia (Emily Browning) begins simmering. Following everyone's arrival in Pompeii for a proper spectacle (Atticus' fight), the man who killed Milo's clan rolls into town, Senator Corvus (Kiefer Sutherland), and starts throwing his weight around. And, ominously, the mountain periodically rumbles in the background.
I don't think I'm spoiling anything by saying that entire appeal to this film is that you're going to get to see the historical city of Pompeii get it's ass kicked by a volcano. And that pretty much lived up to what you'd hope. As it turns out, the director was Paul W.S. Anderson, who's responsible for the "Resident Evil" movies, which means the CGI and action material is going to be handled well, even if the story isn't going to add much more to the mix. And there's tons of action. Gladiator battles, horse chases (the next best thing to a car chase), several different natural disasters, even that silly handshake thing where two guys grab each other's forearm. It all adds up to a lot of meaningless fun, which is all you can hope for.
The story itself is probably entirely fictional (I'm not going to look it up, it doesn't matter either way), and there's some political intrigue as Corvus basically blackmails everyone in sight into doing whatever he wants them to, and Sutherland's fun as a bad guy. He's still kind of a caricature (I mean, come on), but he doesn't err in the usual way bad guys in historical films usually do, in being overly stylish. He's more like a barely civilized thug who's learned that he can get what he wants through coercion than through brute force. The best thing I can say about Kit Harington is that he kind of looks like Orlando Bloom, but he's appropriately bland in his role. And the plot comes together neatly, which is fine, because we're all just waiting to see what happens when the volcano kicks Pompeii's ass, which it does spectacularly.
I can't really say that "Pompeii" aimed very high; clearly this is a movie that wants to have the beautiful girl fall for the rogue in defiance of the dickish authority figure, an then everything goes sideways! And it completely succeeds at that. It's a story that's been told before (and it'll be told again), but it's a fun ride with great effects. There's nothing wrong with any of that. See it on as big of a screen as possible, kick back with some treats and don't worry about the nutritional value of any of it.
2.5 / 5 - Theatre