I’m not really into the whole disaster type films, save for a few that have sparked my interest throughout the years. Most of the time, it’s usually how the destruction is caused – rather than an actual film, it’s a messy array of explosion, deaths and fire. And although Pompeii falls into the category of “failed” disaster films, it’s not the fault of the disaster itself; but rather the fault of its lacklustre script and the almost non-existent plot.
Funnily enough, I saw this film as part of a school excursion for my Ancient history topic. We were all expecting big things – expecting a story that centred on the actual disaster of Mt Vesuvius. Instead, we were served a bland poor-boy-meets-rich-girl story that had was filled with gladiatorial film troupes. Admittedly, the film did begin with promise yet it all quickly fell apart, revealing the dry and uninteresting love story beneath.
The film centres on Milo (Kit Harrington), the last of a Celtic Horse Tribe and an enslaved gladiator who has recently arrived in the great city of Pompeii due to his excellent fighting skills. He catches the interest of Cassia (Emily Browning) who is in turn desired by Senator Corvus (Kiefer Sutherland), the man also responsible for his tribe’s death when Milo was a child. Now with the city crumbling around him, he and others must find a way to survive and escape the oncoming disaster caused by the eruption of Mt Vesuvius.
I was really surprised by how flat and mono-dimensional the characters and story seemed. It got to the point that rather than taking interest in the main characters, I soon found myself rooting for minor characters (My favourite character being Cassia’s handmaiden). I think it’s been proven time and time again that story telling isn’t Anderson’s forte – films like Resident Evil, Aliens Vs Predator, and Death Race are all heavily action based and, if anything, their action sequences give the films enough credibility to be called films. In saying that, Anderson’s portrayal of the actual eruption, and all the repercussions of the initial blast, is an archaeologist’s and historian’s dream. Referring back to my textbooks (and the all important internet), not only is the eruption entertaining and engaging – it’s also surprisingly realistic and accurate. Also deserving of praise are the few gladiatorial fights that are littered in section of the film, which is a godsend considering the true destruction of Pompeii – and I’m not talking about the explosion mind you.
True to it’s historical awareness, Pompeii is a giant disaster. While I do love Game of Thrones, I have to say, It’s not exactly Harington’s best work (Keep it up though Jon Snow!), and so I expect a lot more from him in the future. Although it would otherwise get a zero for its rating, the film’s visual effects are solid and extraordinary, and I’m sure many studying effects for film production would benefit from Mt Vesuvius’s destruction. If you are not however, such a student, I suggest you keep your distance from this disaster flick.
Bry Rating: 1/5
Recommended? Like in Roman times, I give this a thumbs down
Country of Origin: Germany/Canada