An action/romance movie built around the infamous volcano at Pompeii. That definitely seems like something that was just begging to be made.
Honestly, when I first heard about this movie, I thought it was a joke, perhaps a spoof inspired by Bastille‘s catchy song. Or maybe a documentary type film that I was just not understanding. Nope, this is Gladiator on the Titanic except the city is the ship and the volcanic mountain is the iceberg.
Starring Game of Thrones‘ Kit Harrington alongside Emily Browning Pompeii also features Kiefer Sutherland as the dastardly villain. Mr. Eko from Lost (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and Trinity from The Matrix are also here.
Kiefer Sutherland has never looked and sounded so much like his father as he does here, powering through lines of dastardly dialogue and doing evil deeds. He’s a fun villain to root against, no doubt about that.
Milo (Harrington) is the last of his people, wiped out by the Romans, and now a gladiator. Because of his prowess in the arenas, he’s brought up to the semi-professional leagues in the beautiful city of Pompeii where he immediately falls in love with the daughter (Browning) of the most powerful man in town who happens to be trying to avoid the predatory advances of a powerful Roman senator (Sutherland). Also, unbeknownst to all involved, the mountain is about to blow it’s top at a time that will be most dramatic and inconvenient to all involved.
Before we get to the whole mountain exploding thing though, we’re treated to a story of paperback-quality romance and Gladiator ripoff violence. Instead of the gravitas of Gladiator, though, we’re treated to pithy bits of original dialogue like “If I had wanted to kill you, you’d already be dead.” Just about every bit of plot that exists is predictable – even more so given the nature of the setting. At least Titanic doesn’t cut away to a looming iceberg every five minutes to remind you what’s coming. Here we’re treated to impending doom shots of the angry mountain and scary rumbles like clockwork.
For all the cinema sins this movie commits, though, it is still surprisingly entertaining in a turn your brain off kind of way. Visually it looks great. I’ve seen better 3D, but the effect is actually decent here, when actually used in a noticeable manner. At least it doesn’t muddy things up too much and lends some impact to the volcano exploding in your face. The battles are imaginative and rather thrilling and satisfying. Even though one battle set piece feels directly ripped off of the arena battle scene in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones it is pretty fantastic and executes the concept better than the George Lucas powered prequel does.
Is Pompeii derivative and somewhat forgettable? Yes. It’s no masterpiece, but there is no denying that it’s actually fun to watch, in a sort of guilty pleasure kind way. If you want a love story and intense battles set against a visually striking background while not having to think too hard, this popcorn flick might be up your alley – just don’t go in expecting anything more.
Mrs. Hamster did not attend this screening
My rating: Three out of five hats
Pompeii erupts into 2,658 theaters in 3D and 2D February 21