Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Writers: Janet Scott Batchler, Lee Batchler, Michael Robert Johnson
Starring: Kit Harington, Emily Browning, Kiefer Sutherland
Pompeii, the ancient and historic city destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D, and now a blockbuster disaster film adaption which cost more than more than $100million, a huge sum of money most definitely wasted. Pompeii looked be a very good action release focusing on the historic events; however what was achieved was a mixture between very bad marketing, execution and disappointment, despite some promising potential.
Milo (Kit Harington) as a young boy was left to witness his fellow people, friends, and family killed and beheaded by the invading and domineering Romans. Now he is a slave turned invincible gladiator, used for entertainment by those very romans he witnessed as a kid. Milo now fighting within Pompeii, as the romans visit the small coastal town, finds himself in a love affair with Cassia (Emily Browning), the daughter of the wealthy leader of Pompeii and the man getting involved with the corrupt Roman Senator who looks to marry his daughter. As Milo battles within the arena and the ever falling Cassia looking on with fear, Mount Vesuvius erupts, causing a huge rumble and shooting lava crashing onto the city of Pompeii. Milo must fight his way out of the arena, save his true love and try and survive Mount Vesuvius eruption as Pompeii crumbles around him.
There is flaw after flaw with Pompeii’s accuracy along with the writing itself, however my main issue is how we seem to have seen this film a thousand times before and it becomes very cliché. Pompeii reminds me very much of Gladiator, however twisted to make Gladiator a romantic drama, as Milo rides horse-back through flames galloping after his new found “true-love” like an old-Victorian love tale. The film is essentially split into two halves, with the first being my preferable favourite as it focuses on Milo being turned from slave to gladiator and defeating competitor after competitor. However after Milo has fought people, he then has to fight Vesuvius as the second half focuses on its destruction of Pompeii. I must admit, that despite the obvious flaws, Pompeii is filled with action which can be entertaining but I feel there is such poor execution.
The writing of characters was fairly poor with them being very cliché; Milo is somewhat undefeatable, arrogant and energetic however as an audience we seem to like him. Kit Harrington’s portrayal was fairly average, making most of some very cheesy dialogue and scenes, but it was somewhat downgraded by an adopted husky voice which was very Russell Crowe-like, forcing his role a little too much along with being completely inconsistent. Browning’s Cassia was just above annoying, with clumsy and again cheesy scenes, I didn’t think her character was well matched and realistic of the time period either, with it all seeming very modern. Kiefer Sutherland as Senator Corvus and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as fellow gladiator Atticus were for me my standout performers and characters, despite the somewhat dramatic endings they brought powerful displays which produced a positive reaction.
I saw Pompeii in 3D, a rare thing I do as I still think very few films adapt and produce quality 3D effects, taking full advantage of the technology. The effects were definitely no Gravity reflection; there were promising moments of 3D especially within the first scenes, it seemed to surprise me with its selection of moments, with 3D being used on low keys action scenes and not the big finales where I would have expected it to be seen. Pompeii however did show off a high budget with some good visual effects, with explosions and great believable make-up, with one scene being a highlight as the eruption caused a tsunami and the city of Pompeii is flooded completely. Paul W.S Anderson despite not creating a completely phenomenal release should be pleased with certain moments and aspects of his directing.
Pompeii for me seemed to be let down hugely by marketing, I was expecting a big blockbuster focusing on the eruption of Vesuvius however that moment didn’t arise within the film until after the half-way mark, something the film highlighted completely within advertisement. Even when the moment came it was short-lived and neglected something the writers must really be kicking themselves about. Instead I was witnessing a love-story, which was very badly combined with action and fighting resulting in a really cheesy end-product. If I were the writers of this film I would be very annoyed, as for me this had huge potential but only brought disappointment.
It would be fair to say that Pompeii is one of the worst films I’ve seen released this year, but it would be definite to say it is one of the cheesiest. Despite a strong potential story and great visual and action quality, Pompeii offers no more than a generic gladiator story with a combination of romance. Although it may look good, Pompeii really isn’t and it even fails at being a remotely guilty pleasure, I’m sure this is something that won’t go down in the history books.