MOVIE REVIEW: Pompeii

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Pompeii trailer

Pompeii is the new big effects driven action/adventure movie from producer and director Paul W.S. Anderson.  He is most known for his work in science fiction and video game movies with big special effects.  Some of his previous films include the Death Race trilogy, Alien vs. Predator, and the Resident Evil series where he is currently working on the sixth film in the franchise.  Pompeii is being marketed as Pompeii in 3D in order to promote the huge CGI effects and the big set pieces.  The film stars Kit Harington from Game of Thrones fame, along with Emily Browning, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, and Kiefer Sutherland.  The movie is being released on Friday, February 21 in both conventional 2D and also 3D.

A young boy witnesses the murder of his mother and father along with his entire tribe and is then sold into slavery.  As he grows older, the slave transforms into a mighty gladiator and is sent to the Roman city of Pompeii to do battle in their arena.  The city of Pompeii is built right next to the active and volatile volcano, Mount Vesuvius.  The city has plans to grow and expand their empire, but they will need the blessing from Rome in order to do so.  Roman Senator Corvis is sent to Pompeii to hear of their future plans, but he has ulterior motives for his trip.  He has fallen for a local Pompeii girl who has just gotten home from Rome, but in turn she has fallen for our Gladiator hero.  As the intensity of their battle mounts, so does the instability of the active volcano.  As Mount Vesuvius erupts, our hero must defeat his enemies and save his love before the volcano destroys everything.

Pompeii was exactly what I thought it was going to be and maybe even a little better.  I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I actually liked it.  February is usually dumping ground for below average movies that will probably be forgotten shortly after release.  Pompeii is definitely this type of movie, but there were actually some pretty entertaining takeaways.  The movie really has three layers: gladiator fighting, volcano eruption, and the love story.  None of the three pieces really fit together with one another, but they all sort of work.  Of course, the love story part of it is extremely overdramatic and sappy.  It felt like they were trying to re-make Gladiator with a little bit of Titanic mixed in.  Then it takes a big turn when the volcano erupts and it turns into an end-of-times type disaster movie.  I will say that the special effects were very well done and that in itself is almost worth the price of admission.  A lot of times, we go to the movies to escape from reality and this is a pretty good movie to do that.  The acting was pretty hit and miss, as the emotion and intensity is maxed out by all the characters.  I did enjoy seeing Kiefer Sutherland as the villain, he did a nice job of making the audience hate him.  Granted, this isn’t the sort of movie that is going to win any awards or anything, but for a big action movie with huge special effects it actually works.  Pompeii is definitely a movie that was made to be seen on the big screen, and if you enjoy this type of film, I think you’ll have a good time.

Grade: C+

Pompeii opens on Friday, February 21.