It's the end of the world as we know it,
and I feel fine.
Grade: D +
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Starring: Kit Harington, Keifer Sutherland, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Emily Browning and Carrie-Anne Moss
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hr. 35 min.
If the goal of Pompeii was to make its audience actually root for the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D., then mission accomplished. A large portion of the film’s faults lie with the insurmountable ineptness of directorial hack Paul W.S. Anderson (credits: you don’t even want to know…). Much is also a hydra-headed screenplay that compels actors to regularly grouse clunky lines like, “Welcome to your home, savages,” “Feed these animals,” and “Stand up, scum!” One character says,“Kill them...kill them all,” not once, but twice. But mostly, this poorly conceived drama boils the destruction of Pompeii down to a badly CGIed backdrop for a story that’s basically a melange of Titanic and the Starz TV series Spartacus.
Celtic orphan Milo (Kit Harington, Game of Thrones) is enslaved after his parents are murdered by Roman soldiers commanded by Senator Corvus (Keifer Sutherland). Milo ages (although apparently Corvus doesn’t) into an adult super-gladiator who earns his way to the arena in Pompeii. There, he strikes the fancy of Cassia (Emily Browning), his master’s daughter, seemingly based on the technique Milo employs to snap the neck of Cassia’s lame horse. Oh, and his abs, too.
However, Corvus also has the hots for Cassia and aims to marry her, despite the fact that he’s rich and powerful, and she isn’t plus expresses utter contempt for him at every turn. Meanwhile, Milo gets paired off in training with Atticus (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), an undefeated gladiator trying to earn his freedom. Milo and Atticus are slated to battle to the death on the arena sands, which means, of course, that they will eventually become best buds.
Meanwhile, Anderson periodically remind us of Vesuvius rumbling in the background, which brings up the utter flaw about Pompeii. Devoid of competent direction, acting or dialogue, you’re left with a story merely marking time until an inevitable outcome—that can’t come quick enough—negates every single plot point preceding it. Although much contrivance is spent making sure certain characters clash at certain ways and times, none it ultimately matters.
Scientists say Vesuvius could erupt again. Let’s hope the gods aren’t watching Pompeii, or else retribution might come more sooner than later.