Pompeii

Director: Paul W. S. Anderson

Starring: Emily Browning, Kit Harington, Carrie-Anne Moss, Kiefer Sutherland, Paz Vega, Jessica Lucas, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

Rated: PG-13 (Intense battle sequences, disaster-related action and brief sexual content)

A slave-turned-gladiator finds himself in a race against time to save his true love, who has been betrothed to a corrupt Roman Senator. As Mount Vesuvius erupts, he must fight to save his beloved as Pompeii crumbles around him.

 

Pompeii

By Cole Schneider

“Pompeii” is a romantic disaster epic with the usual testosterone filled slave-warrior and the usual fair lady of aristocracy underneath the ash of the legendary Roman volcano. It may help to think of the film as “Gladiator” meets “Titanic”. Or maybe more accurate to its success, think “The Scorpion King” meets “The Day After Tomorrow”.

Usually, I don’t find it very insightful to compare movies so straight, but the filmmakers were so clearly inspired by films like “Gladiator” that it becomes impossible not to. It’s not out of line to call the first hour of the film a rip-off that compresses all the intrigue of the Oscar winner.

What is the motivation of the two love interests? There is a key friendship that develops between two slaves. On what basis are they friends? When I’m spending the whole time trying to forgive the film for its contrivances, the story is simply asking too much of me. Even the CGI, which clearly took up too much of the budget, has moments that look downright cartoonish.

It’s been a fairly depressing start to the year and I’ve been hard on several films lately–and I hate writing negative reviews! However, I do want to encourage people not to avoid the theaters.

There are still several great films at the local cinemas. Two of the best animated features to be released in a while (“Frozen”, “The Lego Movie”) are still going strong and there are plenty of other films that are sticking around with the weak crop of new releases. Just don’t watch “Pompeii”!

Rating: .5 out of 5 stars.

 

Pompeii

By Matt Greene

When was the last time we got a decent disaster movie? Wouldn’t it be great if Pompeii filled that void? Combining the sword-and-sandals elements of Gladiator and Spartacus with the man-vs-nature appeal of films like Twister and The Impossible is a noble concept with the power-tripping of kings being rendered useless by Mother Nature’s wrath. Pompeii ventures to do all of this on top of being a serious action thriller; instead it’s an over-serious and ultimately silly outing, brimming with corniness (ubiquitous slow motion, posturing speeches) where sincerity was attempted.

The story is simple: poor boy meets rich girl, they fall in love, then disaster strikes. Sound familiar? Because it’s the same as a little movie called Titanic. But instead of having the regal gravitas of Titanic, Pompeii opts for storytelling and character motives that are about as subtle as the spewing mountain itself.

Now Pompeii isn’t without merit. Anderson has a keen eye for action sequences; in particular, the main arena battle is full of lively originality. The effects are pretty decent as well, especially once the lava starts to flow.

Otherwise, Pompeii slogs along, struggling to find its place. Notably, the love story, the crux of the film, is entirely unbelievable, rivaling the likes of Twilight in shallow romance and charisma-less performances.

Look, when it comes to action movies, dullness and stupidity can each be forgiven, but it’s hard to rectify both simultaneously, which Pompeii asks us to do. So while combining the basics of two tired genres (sword-and-sandals and disaster) breathes fresh air into both, Pompeii never quite reaches the peaks of either genre.

Rating: 2 out of 5 star

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