|Image from: http://www.impawards.com|
Part Gladiator, part Dantes Peak, Pompeii follows gladiator Milo (son to a murdered mother and father…) who gets the oppurtunity for revenge when his parents’ murderers come to Pompeii. As he struggles to survive in the Gladiatoral battles, things go from bad to worse when Vesuvius erupts and lava, fireballs and ash engulf the city.
Pompeii is not a good film, nor was it ever going to be. Comparisons to Gladiator were always going to be a hinderance; if Ridley Scott’s epic is prime beef, this is more like a McDonald’s happy meal.
For starters, I don’t like director Paul W.S Anderson. I have often found his films worthy of straight-to-DVD status, and it’s the same with this.
Yes, the visual effects are good, but it’s nothing that we haven’t seen before. Without the visuals, there are moments where Pompeii feels more like a BBC production than a cinematic spectacle, and the truly awful performances from everybody involved (except maybe the horses and the Volcano) contribute to this. Kit Harrington and his six-pack lack all of the charisma you need for a role like this, and along with his love interest Emily Browning are about as wooden as the swords the Gladiators use in practice.
It pains me to say but Kiefer Sutherland, who plays the lead villian, puts in a dreadfully hammy performance, all the while sporting one of the worst English (?) accents I’ve heard since Christian Slater in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
Not only is the acting appalling but the script itself, which is constantly struggling to balance the two main plot threads, is just as bad. Dialogue seems to be re-used throughout and the love story just doesn’t work at all; where the two leads fall in love in a matter of seconds, without having spoken more than twenty words to each other. As the stakes were raised I couldn’t have cared less about them and the especially soppy ending was lost on me.
In the films’ defence, the 3D in this is great. Ash floats across the screen and fireballs shoot out at you, and the location stuff is great too. As well as this I’ll hold my hands up and say that there were a few moments that did make me smile, particularly the films’ final punchy action sequences.
Pompeii is a frivolous, throw-away popcorn movie; and although completely forgettable, it would probably go down a treat on a lazy Sunday afternoon viewing.