POMPEII review by Ronnie Malik – a 3D epic of disastrous proportions

POMPEII review by Ronnie Malik – a 3D epic of disastrous proportions


Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

Cast: Kit Harington, Carrie-Anne Moss, Adewale Akinnoye-Agbaje, Jessica Lucas, Jared Harris, Kiefer Sutherland, Emily Browning, Sasha Roiz

Rating: C-

Let’s see – we have a rich girl meets poor boy love story, an evil politician vying for power and a woman’s attention, a wealthy businessman trying to strike a deal, warriors battling it out gladiator style in the arena, and all just in time for a major natural disaster to strike when an angry volcano erupts wiping out everything and everyone in the film Pompeii. This campy 3D CGI disaster spectacle just might wind up in the wasteland of burnt volcanic ash that no one will want to dig up ever again.

The movie opens with an introduction to Milo (Kit Harington), a young boy who belongs to a tribe of horsemen famous for their equestrian skills. The child witnesses the massacre of his village ordered by the evil and future power hungry senator of Rome, Corvus (Kiefer Sutherland). The young horse whisperer is captured and is raised to become a champion gladiator known as “the Celt.”

Milo’s journey of life leads him to Pompeii where he is supposed to fight the reigning star of the arena, Atticus (Adewale Akinnoye-Agbaje) to the death. Atticus explains that if he wins the competition then according to Roman law he will go free. Milo is not convinced that the Romans will honor such a tradition and spends his time in a Pompeii prison cell with Atticus explaining to his now new found friend that freedom will be nowhere in sight. The only freedom for a gladiator that will make Roman audiences happy is the death and martyrdom of the battling heroes.

Milo also crosses paths with the lovely Cassia (Emily Browning). Cassia is the daughter of wealthy parents Aurellia (Carrie-Anne Moss) and Severus (Jared Harris) who both are interested in keeping the interests of Rome alive in their city of Pompeii so that trade and commerce will thrive in the resort paradise. Cassia’s heart is captured by Milo when he manages to save her beloved horse. Milo in turn is enamored by the beautiful girl when she risks everything to save him from the guillotine.

So on we go with sword fights, chariot races, horse chases, and lovers swooning over each other as Mount Vesuvius starts to rumble, shake, rattle, and roar. Audiences will have to suffer through silly dialogue, a sappy love triangle, and far-fetched action sequences for at least an hour before the big attraction – the exploding volcano. As far as disaster films go, the filmmakers were actually pretty effective in creating hot flowing lava, flying flaming boulders, and a rather frightening tsunami. The set design for the city of Pompeii is elaborate and beautiful. We can get a sense of what it must have been like when catastrophe hit the unsuspecting inhabitants of the actual city in 79 A.D. …it is clear that there was no escaping the destruction of the ancient haven.

Despite the great special effects Pompeii is a disaster itself. Meant to draw out emotions with all the backstories, the only reaction this film will get is rolling eyes from the audiences because of the cheesy and badly delivered dialogue done by just about every cast member. The ridiculous script is enough to make steam come out of ones ears. The movie also steals a lot from other films like Gladiator, Titanic, and The Horse Whisperer, but never manages to muster up the magic that these films gave audiences. If you can sit through all the silliness to get a thrill by watching mass destruction, then Pompeii may just be the movie for you. Those looking for something with depth and meaning will probably want to melt this movie to smithereens with extra hot molten lava.

POMPEII opens February 21, 2014

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