Synopsis: Set in the shadow of the gurgling volcano Mount Vesuvius, Pompeii stars Game of Thrones heartthrob Kit Harington as the muscle-bound Milo. His tribe, including his entire family, was wiped out by the vicious Roman Senator Corvus (Kiefer Sutherland) dooming him to a lonely life of servitude under the thumb of Roman masters. Years later as a gladiator in Pompeii’s coliseum he sees a way to exact revenge and save Cassia (Emily Browning), the most beautiful girl in the lush resort town. As warriors Milo and Atticus (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) battle Roman soldiers in the coliseum, the volcano erupts, causing havoc. Will Milo get vengeance and save Cassia before a rolling mountain of lava and ash covers the city?
• Richard: 2/5
• Mark: 2/5
Richard: Mark, the spirit of Steve Reeves lives on. If you aren’t familiar with Mr. Reeves’ oeuvre, he was Hercules before Kevin Sorbo, a legend of beefcake historical drama movies. His movies were all about bulging muscles, swinging swords and damsels in revealing togas. Which brings me to the spiritual cousin to the Reeves movies — Pompeii — which adds spewing lava, but not much else to the sword and sandal genre. Physically, Jason Statham sound-a-like Harrington is up to the heroic Reeves role but is slowed down by the thick layer of molten cheese that covers almost every frame of this film.
Mark: Richard, the movie reminded me of Titanic, but not in a good way. It’s 90 minutes of derivative and irrelevant narrative, a love story between an upper class woman and a commoner, followed by a half hour of the special effects you came to see in the first place. Harrington is fine, but it doesn’t matter. The real star is the volcano, and unfortunately, it has the best lines. The gladiator plotline is inferior to other films in the same genre, although I thought the 20 slaves versus 20 centurions scene was handled with great verve.
RC: It does take too long for Mount Vesuvius to blow its top — complete with flying lava meteorites — and when it does, the special effects aren’t quite as spectacular as you might hope from a CGI extravaganza. On top of that is muddy-looking 3D. The film overall is dark as though the whole thing was shot through a cloud of volcanic ash. Having said that, I didn’t think the volcano had all the best lines. I got a kick out of a prison guard loudly waking up the jailed gladiators by shouting, “Wake up, scum!”
MB: Oh. I thought he was shouting that to the audience. And poor Kiefer Sutherland, given a cardboard role in a papier-mâché film. I kept expecting him to look at the volcano and shout, “We’re running out of time!” What I think I would have liked was a drama that showed a cross section of Pompeii life all too tragically snuffed out by the erupting volcano. But maybe that would have been Pomp-ous.
RC: Ha! I felt that when slave trader Graecus said, “You dragged me from a perfectly good brothel for this?” he was speaking directly to me.
MB: Unfortunately the movie didn’t speak to me in any way, shape or form.