I at least have to give everyone associated with “Pompeii” credit in that nobody had any illusions they were crafting a masterpiece of Western cinema.
It is a high-end, B-movie through and through that makes no apologies about ripping off “Gladiator” and “Titanic” while delivering a swords-and-sandals spectacle overload.
Pompeii was a Roman city that was destroyed and subsequently preserved by layers of fiery ash deposited by the erupting Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D.
Using this spectacularly horrifying event as a backdrop, “Pompeii” knowingly aims right for the lowest common denominator.
The cast is above-average for schlock like this and everyone is totally on board. Milo (Kit Harrington) and Atticus (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) are gladiators from far-off lands brought to Pompeii to compete in a festival meant to honor dastardly Roman Senator Corvus (Keifer Sutherland).
Full disclosure: the TV junkie in me was kind of excited to see Jon Snow and Mr. Eko take on Jack Bauer.
At any rate, we have the requisite romance as Milo catches the eye of noblewoman Cassia (Emily Browning), the daughter of well-to-do merchant Severus (Jared Harris), and his wife, Aurelia (Carrie-Anne Moss).
So what if they’re from the opposite sides of the aqueduct – he likes horses, she likes horses – it’s a perfect match!
But then Cassia becomes betrothed to Corvus (boooooo!) and Milo is set to die in the arena. If only fate could intervene in the form of, say, an exploding volcano.
It’s all as ridiculous as you’d expect, but the special effects are pretty decent and the sword fights are all moderately exciting, so that counts as a good day at the office for a film like “Pompeii.”
The movie was directed by Paul W.S. Anderson (Not to be confused with Paul Thomas Anderson. Like seriously. Don’t do that.) who is best known for directing the “Resident Evil” movies and other goofy stuff like “Soldier” and “Death Race.”
The guy certainly knows his wheelhouse and “Pompeii” is safely within it. I’m also willing to give Anderson a pass because he directed “Event Horizon” and that movie scared the crazy bejeezus out of me, so good on ya’ PWSA.
Look, this is a movie that is going to deliver everything you expect. If you’re in the mood to watch some sword fights, a volcano blows up, and young, attractive people make googly eyes at each other, then you could do a lot worse than “Pompeii.”
If you’re looking for high-quality, profound entertainment, then please move along. You’ve come to the wrong place.
“Pompeii” is rated PG-13 for intense battle sequences, disaster-related action, and brief sexual content.