Rental Corner: “Pompeii” blows…literally
It seems like historical fiction is of the norm these days. While “Gladiator” was inaccurate, it had some effort. “The Eagle” was a good retelling of the struggle between Roman power and Britain. What does “Pompeii” give us? Nice explosions with a story so done to death that it feels like the writers were only invested in the explosion and tossed in a story to make it somehow connect. What this movie really is just happens to be a mix of Titanic and Braveheart with Gladiator pitted in the most cliché and ludicrous story that has potential but is handled in the wrong hands.
Game of Thornes’ Kit Harrington is a Celtic slave named Milo (and honestly, seeing how they refer to him as “Celt,” I barely remember his name altogether) whose tribe is slaughtered by Corvus, a Roman Senate leader (Kiefer Sutherland) who is in the generic batch of political villains that rule with an iron fist and just want to inject his views into others. Milo finds himself as a gladiator performer in Pompeii days before the volcano erupts and falls in love at first sight Cassia who is daughter to the ruler of the doomed city.
Their first scene they share together is about as strange that it plays out like a moment from a Zucker Brothers comedy but without the comedic stinger. Cassia is on a horse wagon and one of the horses trips onto the ground. Milo offers help and what does he do? To relieve Mr. Ed’s suffering, he snaps his neck. Cassia is not in shock but says it was the “honorable thing to do.” Lady, he killed one of your horses. I would be in more shock seeing my pet that I’ve had since who knows when get murdered like this. Does she find this revolting? No. She is immediately smitten for his choice to kill an innocent horse than try and revive it while on its last legs. That’s Roman times for you…I guess.
While that goes on, Corvus plans to wed Cassia so Roman influence can take over Pompeii as he plans to reconstruct the city in the image of his culture and mythos. But Cassia’s heart beats for the pathetic but will take anything on slave as Corvus pushes the limits to see Milo dead as a doornail and as you can predict, his efforts fail. He stages a reenactment with actual killings and Milo lives. He sends his best Roman champion to defeat him, but he is overcome by the quake of Mt. Vesuvius. He even goes as far to lock Cassia in a basement and tries to escape the impending doom and you can already see the pattern here. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if Corvus started to sport a top hat and long moustache while planning his next move to plant Cassia on a railroad track. It got that far.
To say there is a plot is an understatement. The love romance is taken from Titanic but it feels forced and undeveloped. Milo’s boiled revenge against Corvus is directly from Braveheart but feels not very motivated. And everything feels lifted from Gladiator as we partake in scenes in the Amphitheater of Pompeii that feel directly out of Ridley Scott’s historical drama. Even that movie had better effort seeing care was taken in mixing CGI and practical sets. Here we some shots look well-blended but other times when the camera moves and jitters around, it feels like characters are moving on a CGI set. Even the violence is poorly staged as the PG-13 rating robs the brutal moves and killings as we see swords go in, and no blood gushes out. People are sliced at the torso and neck, but we see no scars. Its like we are watching a TV edit than a full on movie.
Even when the volcano erupts, there isn’t much spectacle to behold. The chaos is structured just like Titanic as civilians flee to boats that get overcome by a giant tidal wave. Ash and smoke fall on the doomed families that can’t get out of the place. People crushed under rubble and fallen pillars that are poorly staged as we just effects crushing effects and no feel for human emotion. Even when falling rocks the size of a baseball started to hail on some heads, I nearly laughed at the unintentional hilarity as it felt like something out of a Three Stooges gag. With a story that doesn’t have proper build-up to the chaos, what is there to care about when it hits them?
All I did was keep asking “so what ?” in this picture. The characters are not interesting, the dialogue is poorly written, the destruction is just the same amount of fire and smoke we have seen before and everything just feels dull and generic as the CGI brick houses that get hit with CGI rock that only makes us wonder if we are watching a special effect demo reel or cut scenes from a video game. Do Uncle Morgan a favor and rent The Eagle or Gladiator if you want a Roman epic. If you want a disaster movie, seek else where. There is a potential for a movie like this but at the end of the day, its a shame to see one of the most catastrophic eruptions in European history be turned into a basic disaster flick.
Posted on May 24, 2014, in Rental Corner and tagged Disaster flick, explosions, Game of Thrones, Kit Harington, Paul W. S. Anderson, Pompeii, Roman, Tri-Star, Volcano. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.