If you and I were to sit down and discuss a film that featured the likes of Kiefer Sutherland, Kit Harrington, Emily Browning and Adewale Akinnuoye -Agbaje in the setting of the fabled city of Pompeii, I’d forgive you for being quietly optimistic about its product. Everyone knows how the story ends, what we don’t know however is the people that lived within it at the time of the incident. The only instances I can recall before this are the great episode of Doctor Who – The Fires of Pompeii, and the much loved British Comedy of the 1970s, Up Pompeii. Two very different approaches to one very somber occurrence. Surely Pompeii can bring something new and interesting to the table, right? What do you think?
Round 1 – Story
Set in the late part of the 1st century, “Pompeii” tells the “epic” tale of Kit Harrington’s Milo, a slave/gladiator forced in to performing for the masses. His apparent skill and determination to survive sets him apart from the other parties undergoing similar treatment. This determination, driven by the memory of his families death at the hands of the villainous Senator Corvus leads Milo to doomed city in which this film is based.
Is it a really a spoiler if I told that the Volcano erupts and everyone within its radius dies a very child-friendly death? If the answer is yes then I recommend talking to your parent, boss or teacher about learning a little bit more history.
Entwined in this steaming shower of nonsense is a love story between Milo and Emily Browning’s generic lady of virtue character – I can’t remember her name, and frankly I don’t want to look it up. Somehow they meet, somehow they “fall in love” and somehow they manage to provide absolutely no chemistry whatsoever, but more of that to come in Round 2.
As far as conventional storytelling goes, Pompeii fails to create any form feasible sense. I sincerely couldn’t tell you what happens for about an hour of this film. All I can honestly remember is Jon Snow arriving at Pompeii, Jon Snow fights in an arena, Jon Snow kisses Violet Beaudelaire. If that sounds entertaining to you, then please be my guest, just don’t come crying to me when you’ve had to resort to plucking your forearm hair as a substitute for entertainment.
ROUND 1 SCORE – 2/10
Round 2 – Characters
I’ve purposely left Kiefer Sutherland’s Senator Corvus until now because I don’t think I can honestly think of a greater waste of a person’s time than this. Seriously, Sutherland is laughable as this maniacal figure of Authority whose motives seem to fade in and out of perspective as often as the film’s stakes. Did I give any kind of a damn that he died at the end? Nope. Did he get some form of comeuppance that were proportional to his crimes to our protagonists? No, because they met the same blooming fate as him!
In addition to Sutherland, the “good guys” of Pompeii are so forgettable that I really couldn’t tell you of any situations that made me want to see them prosper. I’ve said it before, but the lack of chemistry between everyone makes me wonder whether any rehearsals had even took place beforehand. I can appreciate that being forced to act emotions can be difficult, but come on! This is without doubt the most obvious instance of phoning it in you will see from the last 5 years.
I get that actors need that pay check, but is it so hard to actually enjoy yourself while you do it? There are so many disaster films out there that grab the viewers attention that they become ingrained in their persona. “Pompeii” suffers from the fact that we know these puppets will be spectacularly obliterated by the end of the film, so what’s the point in wasting time on these characters? If it were down to me, I’d have probably throw in the towel by now.
ROUND 2 SCORE – 1/10
Round 3 – Overall Enjoyment
Would you believe me if I said I enjoyed Pompeii? No? How cynical of you.
But seriously, how on earth did someone pass this off as a marketable franchise movie? Paul WS Anderson has no idea what he’s doing behind the camera, his direction of this ridiculous script makes for a sandcastle built atop of a house of cards waiting for the tide to come in. Sure it has the potential to look interesting, but we all know it’s going to fall apart at some point.
If you enjoyed Gladiator or Volcano or Dante’s Peak then do yourself a favour and just watch them again. Don’t waste your time with this mess because you’ll resent not only me for mentioning it, but yourself for committing the valuable time you have left on Earth on it. I’ve seen so you don’t have to. Your welcome
ROUND 3 SCORE – 1/10
Pompeii loses by decision 4/30
Do you have an opinion on Pompeii? Are you interested in seeing it or remember how you felt after seeing it? Get in touch in the comments below and don’t forget to say hello on Facebook or Twitter, just search Reffing Movies and all will become clear. Speak soon