Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Review: "Pompeii" an Enjoyable Historical Spectacle

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 31 (of 2014) by Leroy Douresseaux

Pompeii (2014)
Running time:  105 minutes (1 hour, 45 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for intense battle sequences, disaster-related action and brief sexual content
DIRECTOR:  Paul W.S. Anderson
WRITER:  Janet Scott Batchler and Lee Batchler, and Michael Robert Johnson
PRODUCERS:  Paul W.S. Anderson, Jeremy Bolt, Robert Kulzer, and Don Carmody
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Glen MacPherson (D.o.P.)
EDITOR:  Michele Conroy
COMPOSER:  Clinton Shorter


Starring:  Kit Harrington, Emily Browning, Carrie-Anne Moss, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kiefer Sutherland, Jessica Lucas, Jared Harris, Joe Pingue, Currie Graham, Sasha Roiz, Dalmar Abuzeid, and Dylan Schombing

Pompeii was an ancient Roman town-city near modern Naples in the Italian region of Campania.  Pompeii and the surrounding area (including another town) were destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.

Pompeii is a 2014 historical drama and disaster film from director Paul W.S. Anderson, perhaps best known for his work on the Resident Evil film franchise.  Theatrically released in 3D, this film is a German and Canadian co-production.

Pompeii is set during the last two or three days before Vesuvius destroys the city.  The film focuses on a slave-turned-gladiator who finds himself in Pompeii and fighting to protect a nobleman’s young daughter from a corrupt Roman Senator, while nearby, Mount Vesuvius rumbles ominously.

Pompeii opens in Brittania in 62 AD.  Roman soldiers brutally wipe out a tribe of Celtic horsemen, and a young Celtic boy named Milo (Dylan Schombing) watches as his parents are murdered.  By 79 AD, the boy is a grown man known as “The Celt” (Kit Harrington), who is a Roman slave and talented gladiator.

Milo is taken to Pompeii during the “Festival of the Vinalia” in order to entertain the crowds.  He has an encounter with Cassia (Emily Browning), the daughter of Pompeii's ruler, Marcus Severus (Jared Harris) and his wife, Aurelia (Carrie-Anne Moss).  Milo and the young woman are drawn to each other.  However, Milo must focus his attention on Atticus (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), a champion gladiator who wants to use “the Celt” to gain his freedom.

Meanwhile, the arrival of Senator Quintas Attius Corvus (Kiefer Sutherland), a close ally of Roman emperor, Titus, changes everyone’s plans.  All that planning might be why Pompeii’s people and visitors are ignoring the noise and rumbles coming from Mount Vesuvius, which towers over the area.

In the history of films set in or during the Roman Empire, Pompeii won’t be memorable.  It’s no Gladiator (2000), nor is it even on the level of a recent favorite of mine, The Eagle (2011).  Pompeii is a sword and sandal film that mixes several genres, including action-adventure, romance, the disaster film, the swashbuckler, and the historical, among others.  Each of those genres offers something enjoyable to watch in Pompeii, but overall this film is not well acted, directed, or written.

It looked to me like some of the film’s actors were struggling not to laugh during scenes when they were supposed to convey anger or pain.  Kit Harrington as Milo the Celt is cute, but he is not much of an actor, at least here.  Emily Browning as Cassia is seemingly quite passionate about this film and gives it her best effort.  Why should you watch this movie?  I don't know.

I found myself enjoying Pompeii.  I have always liked Roman Empire movies, so obviously I was going to give this film a chance.  I am glad that I did, but I won’t lie and pretend that this is an especially good film.

5 of 10

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

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