February 21, 2014 by Vinnie Leduc
For the past few weeks, casual television watchers may have noticed some TV spots that have grabbed their attention. These flashy ads include weapons clanging in close combat, armored soldiers with swords and shields, other sweaty warriors yelling stuff, and wooden ships splintering in turbulent waters. Sweet! The next 300 movie is finally he– wait, what? Admit it: you almost got tricked for a second. I was!
It’s okay; there have also been real TV spots for 300: Rise of an Empire, too, sometimes even during the same commercial break! But I’m talking about Pompeii, another 3D movie with a marketing campaign seemingly trying to take advantage of anyone who is fiending some historical Mediterranean action and can’t wait another two weeks. I couldn’t do that? I could’ve, but I’m a sucker for disaster movies.
Although somebody in Pompeii actually says “This is madness!”, the film shares less similarities with 300 and more with Gladiator because its primary focus is on Game of Thrones‘ Kit Harington as a slave fighting for his freedom in sporting arena battles against the evil Roman empire. Russell Crowe became a household name and nabbed an Oscar nomination for his powerful performance in Gladiator, but Kit Harington will not do either with his soulless exhibition in Pompeii.
Like much of the rest of the movie, Harington looks good, with his ridiculous 12-pack or whatever, as he goes through the motions of your archetypal hero. Same with Sucker Punch‘s Emily Browning as his love interest. But realize that Pompeii is a Paul W. S. Anderson flick. Literally each and every one of the director’s films has more negative reviews than positive ones.
However, like some of Anderson’s previous efforts, his latest can be a satisfying treat for your senses as long as you turn off anything in your brain that transcends primal instinct. Pompeii does have a few cool scenes and some nice CGI aerial shots. Although it was filmed in 3D, the 3D maybe only looks above average once all hell rains down in the last act. Credit the special effects team because I’m pretty sure they didn’t film an actual volcanic eruption.
Pompeii survivors will appreciate the combat, which ranges from mediocre to occasionally eyebrow-lifting, because most of the questionable accents are drowned out during the chaos and clashes. If you can get past Kiefer Sutherland’s, he’s an adequate and fiery villain. From the rest of the supporting cast, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje stands out as ferociously as he did in the Thor sequel.
Put all of this together, throw in some elements of 2012 and Titanic, and you’ve got Pompeii, which isn’t nearly as bad as last month’s first 2014 Hercules movie. Like a diet episode of Starz’ Spartacus and HBO’s Rome, it feels like something from ABC, FOX, or a basic cable network. No need to run for your life, but on the other hand, no reason to stop and stare in awe. Pompeii gets 2.5 out of 5 stars.