Starring: Kit Harrington, Carrie-Anne Moss, Emily Browning, Kiefer Sutherland, Jared Harris, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jessica Lucas
Directed by: Paul W. S. Anderson
Synopsis: A slave-turned-gladiator finds himself in a race against time to save his true love, who has been betrothed to a corrupt Roman Senator. As Mount Vesuvius erupts, he must fight to save his beloved as Pompeii crumbles around him.
If I were to sum up Pompeii to you as shortly as possible I would probably say Gladiator crossed with Titanic. The iceberg? See Mount Vesuvius. The Titanic itself? The city of Pompeii. Leo and Kate? Kit and Emily. Billy Zane? Kiefer Sutherland. The parallels are all there. The dialogue is equally bad, the CGI overloaded and some of the acting belongs in a school play. Yes, Pompeii, like the city it portrays, is in a terrible condition.
Yet, I can’t complain whole heartedly because I knew what I would be getting when I watched it. It was kind of like White House Down, in that it was at times so preposterous and over the top that you just had to give in, go with it, and laugh.
Kit ‘Jon Snow’ Harrington plays Celt, a newly imprisoned gladiator who attracts the attention of Cassia (Emily Browning), the daughter of wealthy parents Severus (Harris) and Aurelia (Moss), and ultimately the not so welcome attractions of some nasty people too, such as the corrupt Roman Senator Corvus (Sutherland). First he must survive in the gladiatorial ring, before then surviving the flaming tides flowing down the volcano. To add to this, he wants vengeance. Corvus killed his parents years earlier when Celt was just a boy and he see’s a perfect opportunity to exact revenge.
The first half of the film, other than a ‘get to know you’ session, is committed to showing you the pitiful life of a gladiator. It has some semi decent, if over the top, sword fights. Unfortunately for Pompeii, back in 1999 Gladiator was released and any attempt to live up to that billing is just laughable. Mainly because of the awful dialogue and amateur acting. The worst offender is actually Kiefer Sutherland who is awful and hammy, and just woefully miscast. Harris and Moss are underused and the only people to come out with any kind of credit were Harrington and his gladiator pal Akinnuoye-Agbaje.
The second half of the film just devolves in to a lot of running around avoiding flaming rocks, tidal waves, flowing lava and crumbling walls. Throw in a few more sword fights and the obligatory end of film showdown with the bad guy and Pompeii ticks all the boxes for a dumb blockbuster.
I suppose this is a decent enough rainy day movie, if you want to switch off for an hour and a half. It’s big problem is that it isn’t Gladiator, nor Game of Thrones which has recently raised the bar even higher.