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Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Starring: Kit Harrington, Emily Browning and Kiefer Sutherland
1.50 out of 5.00
Movie Review — “Pompeii”
MONTE YAZZIE ~ THE FOOTHILLS FOCUS~ 2/26/2014
There was 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 was a mix of other films seen before—and executed better than—“Pompeii.”
Summing up the plot in one sentence, Anderson’s flick involves a volcano raining 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. The director attempted to make this all into something interesting, but the disorganized narrative and overly familiar elements make for a disappointing experience instead.
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 found a handle on the numerous developments in the script. At one point, it was a story of a gladiator fighting for freedom, then it transitioned into a romantic story about two people from different worlds and then turned into an all-out disaster film, which made 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 blatantly copied structural formula from “Gladiator.”
It was unfortunate that “Pompeii” never found continuity from scene to scene because the special effects were good enough to provide the visual excitement of a 90-minute, mindless entertainment film. Without the script providing a foundation for the action and special effects, the film ended 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,” played the physical aspects of the gladiator Milo quite well, but he struggled with the emotional aspects. In his defense, the script didn’t help much.
Emily Browning was convincing as Cassia, though she was 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 came along suddenly, as disaster forced Milo into action to save her, though it added the needed device to force the film into the final battles of action.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje was best in the film, playing the supporting role of Atticus, a fellow slave and champion gladiator that offered camaraderie with Milo.
There was an exciting, if copied, moment involving an uneven arena battle for Milo and other gladiators, in which Anderson displayed his flair with action. Beyond that familiar scene, there wasn’t much left in “Pompeii” that would have propelled it into the league of the films that inspired it.