A 3-D Foray into Pompeii
Today’s culture is saturated with science fiction disaster movies. Everywhere you turn vampires and zombies are brining and end to the human race. But Paul W.S. Anderson takes us to the past and one of the greatest tales of volcanic destruction.
The movie follows a slave through the last days of Pompeii. One of the few remaining Celts, Milo is used by the Romans as a gladiator and it is his anger for his people that fuels him. His performance in fights draws the attention of his slave owner who wants to take him to Pompeii to show off. Pompeii is going through a crisis of its own. The city’s ruler Severus is trying to get Emperor Titus to fund the rebuilding of his glories city. But when his daughter becomes the price, he realizes he cannot get out of the game of politics. Severus’ family and the slave cross paths as Mount Vesuvius explodes and the citizens try to make it out alive.
What I really liked about the movie was that it spanned only days of time. There was no long, drawn out love courtship, and used only minor flashbacks to set up the story. In a short period of time, the writers managed to get many heavy points across. There is exploration of the Roman and Gladiator slavery system as well as looking at corruption of Roman generals. But the story also looks at love, friendship and duty. This keeps the movie from having a Titanic moment where everything is about sacrificial love. The movie also explores the many aspects of the natural disaster. It wasn’t just boom and poof everything was gone. The movie constructs the true impact of nature: earthquakes, tidal waves, and fiery debris, smoke that debilitated and fire charred people in an instant. This is was what really happened to these people.
The acting is perfectly fine, but the movie does not necessarily lend to great performances. The exception is Kiefer Sutherland playing the corrupt Senator. He is gloriously contrite and uppity. You delight in his wickedness. But Kit Harrington and Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje don’t have to do much more than look good being scantily clad and miming being a badass. While they are badass, it doesn’t give them much depth in their roles. I was glad to see Sasha Roiz in a pivotal on screen, as well as Anderson’s typical strong women characters that don’t just get kidnapped and scream.
The most disappointed thing about this movie is the 3-D aspect. Anderson is great at using 3-D to bring viewers into the action and often making them feel like they have been showed in zombie guts. But Pompeii only makes use of the technology as the volcano explodes. While the flying rock and ash make you cringe, these sequences are short and do not the rest of the movie.
I really enjoyed this movie but there isn’t anything special about it. It’s probably more of a Red Box rental if you don’t have an inclination to see Harrington’s glorious abs on the big screen.