“Imagine someone took Gladiator and Titanic and then clumsily mashed them together repeatedly”
By Matt Allen
Cast: Kit Harrington, Kiefer Sutherland, Emily Browning, Carrie-Ann Moss, Jared Harris
Director(s): Paul W. S. Anderson
Screenwriter(s): Janet Scott Batchler, Lee Batchler, Michael Robert Johnson
Running Time: 104 minutes
Fire raining from the sky, rivers of molten lava spewing from the ground and black clouds of thick smog engulfing everything in sight; it’s safe to say that seeing a volcanic eruption up close is pretty much out of the question. Luckily, Paul W. S. Anderson has saved us the trouble and through the magic of that ever reliable new-fangled 3D machine, we can now witness the destruction of an ancient civilization as if we were actually there!
Gladiator, slave and Celtic badass (Kit Harrington) takes revenge on the corrupt Roman Senator (Sutherland) that slaughtered his family, amid the devastating eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
Like most films sold on the basis of being a 3D extravaganza, the plot of Pompeii severely lacks in the originality department. Imagine someone took Gladiator and Titanic and then clumsily mashed them together repeatedly. The love story between Harrington and Browning is an bland retelling of the age old rich-gal-falls-for-hunky-street-urchin thus defying all predetermined ideas of class for true love. Of course, there are obstacles to their happiness, most notably the inhumane husband-to-be (Sutherland) who naturally takes affront to the slave’s audacity to dare to think his life as something of value. Textbook stuff.
Everyone struggles to break free from the fossil-stiff characters served up to them by a script overflowing with stilted dialogue and predictable character arcs. Even the more seasoned actors of the bunch such as Sutherland fail to make anything more of their parts than a made-to-order period character. It is easy to see why Harrington, fresh off the back of his success in HBO’s Game of Thrones, is cast as the gentle but fierce Celtic gladiator however, if he plans to one day break form type he will struggle if he continues to take on standardised parts such as this one.
The 3D effects on which the film is sold are bland to say the least. There is little imagination gone into the use of the medium beyond the expected fire balls and tidal waves. Whilst these are the best moments in the film, these sequences are still sub-par and since they are the supposed pay-off after having to sit through an entirely trite love story as well as a revenge-by-numbers sub-plot it is difficult not to feel cheated.
A lacklustre effort that makes tepid use of its 3D effects. If this is to be seen at all, it should be in the cinema but even that is not recommended.