Pompeii – 2.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

PompeiiPompeii – 2.5/5 – Disaster films; they are the kind of films that are always filled with some kind of spectacle, but not a lot of depth or substance.  Even when the film lacks the definite traits of a great film, it can still provide entertainment.  Pompeii is just like all the other disaster films; a movie with a lot of color, but no design.  In all, Pompeii is filled with a lot to yearn for, but in the end, you can say there is enough to be entertained by.

Premise: A story of a untold era, we witness as a slave turned gladiator must overcome circumstances to achieve goals of love and redemption. When Mount Vesuvius erupts, he must fight to save his beloved as Pompeii crumbles.

In the lead role of Milo the Celt is Kit Harington.  Kit is known as ‘Jon Snow’ from Game of Thrones, so his acting career has only just started.  Even with the limited resume, his acting as this character is one of the bright spots of the film.  As Milo, he creates a person who is built through his tragic past.  You watch through his action how these events mold him to be the warrior you come to learn and root for in this film. He ‘physically’ provides the design of a gladiator, and gives us the muscle when needed.  His interactions are subtle, but they feel real (for the most part).  The one interaction that is a strong bond in the film is the one created with Atticus.  Atticus is another gladiator, played by Adewala Akinnuey-Agbaje.  His charisma as the ‘Champion of Pompeii’ is strong and visceral, and his interactions are just as stern as his looks.  For the most part, he plays the typical ‘muscle man’, but he has a great connection with Milo.  Through there monologues, they eventually become friends.  They struggle the same, and you feel more personal strength when these two are on screen or fighting for ‘freedom’.  Outside of these two, the acting is pretty pathetic, if not bordering on mind numbing.  You have the typical ‘love interest’ in the form of the Mayor of Pompeii’s daughter, Cassia (Emily Browning), and also the cartoony styled villain in the Senator from Rome, Corvus (Kiefer Sutherland).  Along with these noticeable names, you have some others that play even more one-dimensional characters, but aren’t really worth naming.  These other actors just gives us typical archetypes of either the innocence or evil parts of the story, as they help only in being pawns for story progression.  You watch as most these characters help Milo and Atticus get from one point of the movie to the next.

The direction of the film follows the traditional ‘rise of a hero’ cliché, compartmented within a disaster flick.  Within these two genres, the film goes along with your basic prologue, general story build up, the inevitable ‘disaster’, cliché climax within the ending defining ‘love, fate and redemption’.  In the basic prologue, we get the back story of Milo, and his whole purpose on becoming a gladiator.  You see as a child everyone gets massacred, bringing him to being left alone and seeking revenge for the death of his family and clan.  This is where we also get introduced to the ‘villain’, Senator Corvus.  After we prop up both sides of the chessboard, we fast forward many years later, as Milo has become the ‘ultimate’ gladiator.  Because of this, he get’s sent to the city of Pompeii.  Also (and conveniently) Corvus comes to visit Pompeii to play ‘politics’ with the Mayor.  Eventually, the two cross paths.  Within this buildup of these chess pieces, you have some melodramatic dialogue between all the main characters of the film, which indulges us with the ideas love, redemption, honor, family and deception.  Everything feels generic because of the lacking of substance in the dialogue.  The trivial push with this is the fact they make you want to care about the story, but never develop it to the point of caring.  Another drag on the film is the love being developed between Cassia and Milo.  This feels very forced just for the sake of having some injection for more ‘conflict.  Even with some of these obvious drags on the film, you still are entrenched and entertained because of the ‘era’ and the inevitable disaster that is going to happen.  By the time all these stories of Milo ‘getting’ revenge, the politics of Corvus, and the other side sub plots converge, the mountain explodes.  Here, the film’s melodrama and story elements get trounced, as the ‘disaster piece’ kicks in to full affect.  Even though the movie is billed to be about this tragedy, the whole ‘epicness’ of the situation feels lethargic and boring.  You have your typical ‘hysteria’ situation, ‘over the top’ sequences of explosion or deaths, even some convenient character ‘directives’; showing what will or won’t happen in the next scene.  As everything goes down, the rest of the film is filled with ‘over exaggerations’ of what makes a disaster film.  Once the film get’s to its climax, the film ends on a bittersweet note, one that provides a welcome closure to the stories (that had no relevance) as well as the whole disaster.  We then see that whole ‘love, fate and redemption’ angle kick in, but it just feels as melodramatic as the rest of the film.

The visuals of the film are a hit and miss.  At times, when it comes to the creation of the gladiator ring as well as certain places in Pompeii, it feels authentic.  You believe you are there witnessing actual events.  When it comes to the overall panoramic view and the recreation of the disaster, the CGI becomes very prevalent, and it turns into a mess of overused graphics.  The ‘style over substance’ kicks into a very strong ‘awareness’, as it comes across as a spectacle of nonsense, glossing over the story.   The music is somewhat generic, but it is worth noting it is in the film.

Overall, Pompeii is a film of many generalities that you would expect, and nothing more beyond that.  You will find some entertainment at parts of the film, but overall, it isn’t anything you haven’t seen.  If you’re a fan of disaster pieces, you’ll definitely find something here.  Otherwise, don’t waste your money, unless you go to a matinee.

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