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POMPEII (review)

Review by Caitlyn Thompson
Produced by Jeremy Bolt, Paul W. S. Anderson, 
Robert Kulzer, Don Carmody
Screenplay by Janet Scott Batchler, Lee Batchler, 
Michael Robert Johnson
Directed by Paul W. S. Anderson
Starring Kit Harington, Emily Browning, 
Carrie-Anne Moss, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, 
Jessica Lucas, Jared Harris, Kiefer Sutherland

Pompeii can best be understood as a pastiche, an un-ironic recombination of Gladiator, 300, Game of Thrones and Volcano.

The film is a compilation of every trope within the ancient/action/adventure genre.

Check list—sexy warrior slave with incredible abs that consistently glow with the perfect amount of sweat, skinny and defiant high class daughter, weakling parents, intimidating enemy turned BFF, blonde dictator and his scowling right hand man who is inexplicably unstoppable.

Cliché line.

Cliché response.

Our gladiator protagonist, Milo (Kit Harington – GoT’s Jon Snow) is sent to Pompeii where he immediately catches the eye of the daughter of a rich politician, Cassia (Emily Browning). The love triangle is complete when the man who slaughtered Milo’s family and people, Senator Corvus rolls into town.

Of course, he also has a thing for Cassia.

The movie was a record on repeat.

Volcano explodes, people run and die, Harrington battles someone, skip, skip, start over.

I’m not sure if director Paul W. S. Anderson was looking to create something important or a spoof. Don’t straddle the line between ridiculous and serious—choose one and stick with it. If it had been more satirical the script could have been at least funny, instead of downright bad. The production seemed like it was directed by a really angsty middle school drama teacher who’s way too intense but no one really gives a shit.

Any thought given was directed towards the special effects, which were really unimpressive. The mountain is a great piece of CGI but the only function of the 3D aspect was watching ash blow around…not that cool. Some fight scenes can be quite entertaining, but only because they are SO poorly choreographed. The poor composition was worsened by the sound mixing and editing. Everything sounded (and looked) off.

I can’t comment much on the acting because the roles are shallow and the actors know they have done better. Everyone looks tired.

Kit Harrington is The Celt/Milo. Really, he’s Jon Snow, but instead of freezing in huge cloaks, he’s sweating in a loincloth.

Donald Sutherland is WAY better at being an evil dictator (in The Hunger Games) than his son, Kiefer. Kiefer looks uncomfortable in his role and has no threatening traits. He delivers his lines with force but no emotion – and that can be said for each character in this movie.

Disaster movies need some class, or humor, or any substance at all. These films need structure and a core group worth cheering on.

And, unlike Pompeii, it has to be entertaining.

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