Pompeii ReviewGenre – Historically-based Fiction, Romance Director – Paul W.S. Anderson (Mortal Kombat: The Movie, Death Race series, Resident Evil series
Cast – Kit Harington (Jon Snow from Game of Thrones), Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Lost, Oz), Emily Browning (Sucker Punch), Kiefer Sutherland (24), Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix), Jessica Lucas (Evil Dead), Jared Harris (Mad Men)
Alluring element – Jon Snow goes back in time a thousand years or so to rise against Jack Bauer and get the girl! Check it out if you liked – 300, Troy SCORECARD (each category out of 10):
Plot – 7 Acting – 7 Representation of Genre – 9 Cinematography – 9 Effects/Environment – 9 Captivity – 9 Logical consistency – 8 Originality/Creativity – 7 Soundtrack/Music – 9 Overall awesomeness – 8
Pompeii is about Milo (Kit Harington), a Celt whose family and entire people were slaughtered by the Roman senator Corvus, played by Kiefer Sutherland. Milo is enslaved and turned into a gladiator. Eventually, he is taken to Pompeii where he meets the captivating Cassia (Emily Browning) and fellow gladiator-slave Atticus (Akinnuoye-Agbaje). Once Mount Vesuvius erupts, it becomes a race against the clock not only to save Cassia but to seek revenge against the corrupt Crovus. Pompeii is part love story, part political rebellion, and all parts natural disaster.
I am a big fan of ancient historical fiction, and to be honest, I was a bit worried about this film. Many times, films like Pompeii are a bit over-the-top; they are over-acted and rarely historically accurate. To say the least, I was pleasantly surprised with Pompeii. The visual world was captivating and, at first glance, I thought I was working my way through the Pompeii exhibit at the museum. In reality, the volcanic ash from Mount Vesuvius kept the town so well preserved that archeologists have been able to replicate the city of Pompeii with detailed accuracy. The movie paid close attention to these details of the city and this was heightened by the use of 3D which really made the world pop down to the street venders. The eruption of the volcano was on point and accurate in sequence. The only inaccuracy were the pyroclastic bombs and the dramatic tsunami which dragged a ship into the city. During the time of the actual eruption, there were warning signs days before the eruption and many people actually left before the volcano erupted. The film didn’t touch on these facts, but it is forgivable because of the visual effects.
The dynamics of the characters were what I enjoyed most. While the plot was cliché and predictable, the character nuances and subtleties made up for it. I really liked Cassia. Granted, she was a wealthy elite stereotype, but she also wasn’t totally naive nor a typical damsel in distress. Her parents also were likeable. They were present parents and good people. Her mother Aurelia (Carrie-Anne Moss) was a strong, charismatic woman who worked closely with her husband’s politics as Corvus has come to Pompeii to invest in the construction of a new arena which Severus hopes will continue to brings money into the city. Both Severus and Aurelia genuinely dislike Corvus who later find out he’s also come to Pompeii to scheme for Cassia’s hand in marriage. The other thing I really have to give the movie props for was a lack violence against women used to garner entertainment. Corvus was creepy and gross without being over-the-top violent.
While there was a love story, Pompeii was more a story between Milo (The Celt) and Atticus, who was one fight away to winning his freedom under Roman law. Both lost their families to the Romans and are trying to maintain their identity while enslaved. The arena becomes their political battlefield as Milo seeks revenge on Corvus and by extension the Roman Empire. Atticus joins Milo as his faith in Roman law is betrayed. I don’t want to give away the rest of the story, but in many ways, this overpowered the love story. It may be unfortunate for the popularity of the film that Pompeii was seemingly marketed as a love story, because the film was prominently a historical and political plot. Though, I’ve been known to read too much into stories and may be reading more into the plot then I need to.
One last note of importance: the soundtrack was fantastic. It was emotional, engaging, and epic. The music enhanced the overall experience of the film and is something I’ll invest in to listen to later. Rotten Tomatoes only gave the film 29% rating, and critics were harsh. I, on the other hand, enjoyed the film. The storyline was simple, engaging, and oddly deep in its subtlety. The 3D didn’t sully the movie but rather enhanced it; I would highly recommend watching this film in 3D. However, the story is strong enough that it will be worth watching at home if you can’t get to the theater.
Written by Jené Conrad