Writer: Elaine Ewe
Overall: 2.0 Out of 5
Cast: 2.0 Out of 5
Plot: 2.0 Out of 5
Effects: 3.0 Out of 5
Cinematography: 2.0 Out of 5
Watch this if you liked: “Resident Evil” films, “The Three Musketeers”
It is no spoiler to say that lots of people die in "Pompeii". It is all part and parcel of the disaster film genre. All disaster films tend to be by the numbers: the first half hour of the film is spent building up to the disaster, followed by the disaster itself, and sometimes the aftermath. What the audiences are in for is the character drama and/or the destruction. Director Paul W. S. Anderson may share the same last name as Wes Anderson, but their films are as different as chalk and cheese, so if you bought tickets for "Pompeii" thinking that you are going to watch a character-driven film like, say, "Moonrise Kingdom" because it's by 'that Anderson dude', this is not that kind of film.
The film begins with a brief overview of how our hero came to be a gladiator - Milo (Kit Harington) is orphaned at a young age when Romans massacre his family, and he himself is taken as a slave. Eventually, he meets Cassia (Emily Browning), the daughter of a wealthy merchant, and the two fall in love despite Cassia never knowing his true name, simply because there is no other slave with 9-pack abs like Milo, and no other doe-eyed girl with bee-stung lips like Cassia. Unfortunately, Senator Corvis (Kiefer Sutherland) has also set his eyes on Cassia, which throws a wrench into the lovers' plans.
Just when you thought that you have seen it all, we get volcano porn film. In the lack of gratuitous violence or lovemaking scenes (our leading couple only get one kiss in the whole film), we get to admire the volcanic eruption and the ensuing chaos. There are overhead shots, camera panning and tracking shots. The film pre-Mount Vesuvius's eruption is the very definition of boring. The film during Mount Vesuvius's eruption is where things start to get interesting - there were mindless and at times, comedic, murder of SO many characters, the CGI is so much better, and the dialogue is actually laugh-out-loud funny.
Milo is incredibly gifted in combat, but like his name, that is all there is. He is tortured over the slaughter of his family, but we only arrived at that conclusion not because of his award-winning acting, because he keeps harping about it, and who wouldn't be traumatized if your family were murdered right in front of your eyes? It is such a shame because we'd like to think that Kit Harington is more than just a pretty face (and he did work out for those abs after all), but after "Pompeii", Jon Snow won't be getting any "Game Of Thrones" spin-off, that's for sure.
If Milo is the grim one, then Cassia is the dazed one. Throughout the whole film, she stares at Milo dazedly, leading her handmaiden, Ariadne (Jessica Lucas) to remark that he has indeed, mouth-watering abs, as well as her mother and Senator Corvis to notice that Cassia has more than passing feelings for the slave. Come on woman, rein those hormones in! For all her staring, the chemistry between the two is palpably absent, which is where the film begins to fall apart, because their love story is supposed to be the highlight of the film along with the impending destruction.
For those who thought that another director could have done "Titanic" better than James Cameron, Paul W. S. Anderson's "Pompeii" is the answer and testament that directors like Cameron are in Hollywood's A-list for a reason, and so are actors like Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. People fell in love with "Titanic" not just because of its story, but also because of its compelling and interesting characters. Although the film is about a volcano's eruption, the film feels colder than the polar vortex in the U.S.
Cinema Online, 22 February 2014