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Pompeii (Kit Harington/Kiefer Sutherland) - DVD Review

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 1 out of 5

PAUL W.S Anderson has been responsible for some big screen disasters in his time but his take on the historical events at Pompeii borders on the catastrophic.

Borrowing shamelessly from the likes of Game of Thrones, Gladiator and Titanic, this is disaster movie making by numbers that feels lazy in just about every department.

The script is awful, the performances not much better and even the special effects – the usual bail out for this kind of movie – are pretty average (and sometimes below that).

The film tells the epic story of Milo (played by Game of Thrones star Kit Harington, aka John Snow), a slave turned invincible gladiator who arrives in Pompeii on the eve of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

To complicate matters, his true love, Lady Cassia (Emily Browning) is also in the city and in dire need of rescue from both the volcano and a diabolical Roman senator (Kiefer Sutherland), who was also previously responsible for the slaughter of Milo’s family years earlier.

Anderson’s previous track record includes the Resident Evil movies as well as The Three Musketeers in 3D and so expecting better things from Pompeii was always asking for a minor miracle.

But even by Anderson’s own bad standards, this disaster movie blows. The disaster elements feel like an after thought for long periods, with Anderson opting instead to place the emphasis on the gladiatorial posturing of its leading man.

The romance, meanwhile, struggles to stand up to any kind of scrutiny (the two meet once, briefly, to ignite their passion and then only share two brief scenes to establish their all-consuming passion). To make matters worse, Browning and Harington share absolutely no chemistry.

To be fair, neither is served by the script, which borders on the abysmal. But that said, Sutherland still manages to rise above the cliches to deliver a villain that is worthwhile. The 24 seems to have the measure of the material and his performance is one of the film’s few pleasures.

The effects, on the other hand, are massively disappointing. Not content with making viewers wait without building up any kind of tension surrounding the volcano itself, Anderson then completely gets things wrong with a set piece finale that is blatantly computer generated (particularly in its use of water) and which fails to deliver any visual excitement whatsoever.

Pompeii might have fared better had it fallen into the cheesy, so bad it’s good category of films. But Anderson can’t even manage to pull that off. It’s self-serious, tedious, uninspired and a disaster of its own. The events of Pompeii deserved so much better.

Certificate: 12
Running time: 100mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: September 15, 2014