From director Paul W.S. Anderson (Resident Evil) comes the disaster epic Pompeii. Milo (Kit Harington) is a young Celtic gladiator whose entire family was killed by Roman forces lead by Corvus (Kiefer Sutherland). Milo is brought to the city of Pompeii, where he enters a rivalry with gladiator champion Atticus (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and attracts the eye of Cassia (Emily Browning), the daughter of the city ruler Severus (Jared Harris) and his wife Aurelia (Carrie-Anne Moss). Corvus, now a roman senator, arrives in Pompeii to listen to Severus’ plans to rebuild the city, while also seeking Cassia’s hand in marriage. As rivalries flare up at Pompeii’s gladiatorial games, a new threat emerges as the volcano Mount Vesuvius begins to erupt.
Being a film about the real historical volcanic destruction of the Roman city of Pompeii, it can be hard to gauge what exactly constitutes a spoiler when talking about Pompeii. The film makes it no secret that the volcano is going to erupt and in fact spends much of the film foreshadowing this event. Of course, the actual eruption doesn’t really occur until the final act of the film, with the first two acts playing off more like a poor man’s Gladiator.
On their own a film with gladiatorial battles and volcanic eruptions should be an easy sell. However, while the action of the film is somewhat watchable, the actual story of Pompeii is quite laughable. While a film like Titanic may be able to pull off a romantic plot under the backdrop of a disaster, the love story between Milo and Cassia really seems out of place amongst all the death and destruction of the film and one can’t help but snicker at the big romantic moment in the film. Also, while the film does feature its share of gladiatorial battles, it is quite noticeable that the violence was kept relatively bloodless to make sure the film gets a PG-13 rating.
In the lead role of the film, Kit Harington is obviously cashing in on his recognisability from the HBO series Game of Thrones and is essentially playing the same character. Emily Browning (Sucker Punch) is also decent enough in her role, while Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje comes off as the strongest of the lead actors, despite the fact that he is playing the same type of character he always does. On the other hand, Kiefer Sutherland is absolutely excruciating to watch as Corvus. Sutherland was quite miscast in the role and it was quite laughable watching him play a very pompous and hammy villain. Also, Jared Harris and Carrie-Anne Moss seem quite wasted in their roles, with neither character having much to do.
While Pompeii is a perfectly watchable film and somewhat shines during the volcanic climax, the laughable romantic plot and neutered battles makes this a film that it not at all that memorable.6 | WATCHABLE