Always hate it when natural-disasters come in to break-up my romances.
Milo (Kit Harington) is a young, Celtic gladiator who was enslaved after his whole tribe/family was brutally slaughtered some years before. For his next tour of duty, in which he practically kicks everyone’s ass, he arrives at Pompeii, but wouldn’t you know it, the daughter of a wealthy merchant (Emily Browning) just so happens to be too! Somehow, they lock eyes and find something that slightly resembles a “connection” on the way to Pompeii, but not until they are taken away, back to their own, separate lives, where they may never possibly see each other again. But in fact, they do, but their lives are a lot more challenging now: He’s out there in the middle of the Colosseum, fighting for his life and gaining a friendship through a fellow gladiator (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje)); whereas she’s stuck in a manipulative-romance with the Roman Senator Corvis (Kiefer Sutherland). And to make this even juicier, apparently Corvis is the same man who not only killed all of Milo’s people, but even slayed his mother himself. All hell is about to break loose inside Pompeii, but it’s not necessarily because Milo wants revenge, love and all sorts of escapism – something, for one reason or another, just doesn’t sound all that right with Mount Vesuvius. What is it? What could it possibly be? Hmmmmmm……
Okay, just sit down and think for a second: Take a standard, sword-and-sandals epic like Gladiator, mix it around with the star-crossed lovers story from Titanic, throw in the whole “tragic, real-life” aspect of this story from something like, well, Titanic again, and, to top it all off, have it be directed by Paul W.S. Anderson. Now, if that sounds awesomely rad to you in every which way, then you’ll know this is the perfect film for you, your drunk buddies and quite possibly, your dumb-ass girlfriend who still puts up with your immature-ass.
But, if you’re like any respectable human-being that knows what deserves to be seen, and what doesn’t, then you’ll stay home, watch curling, or whatever is left of the Olympics, and just be happy that you’re doing something productive with your life, that also doesn’t end with you losing insane amounts of brain-cells. And usually, on any given day, I’d be including myself with this group of fine specimens, but for something like this, I just couldn’t help myself. You know why?
Well, because I actually enjoyed this movie, for everything that was so obviously dumb and innate about it. Because see, this is a movie directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, the type of guy I expect to see garbage like this from. So,, that’s why when he actually gave me a movie that was as stupid as it could possibly be in the world, I couldn’t help but laugh my ass-off more than on a few occasions. Granted, they were no way in hell meant to be intentional-laughs, they were more so done in the way that the writing is so cheesy and over-the-top, you can’t keep a smile tucked away for too long. Sometimes, and god forbid I actually be applauding an action such as this, you just have to go with the flow, no matter how mind-numbingly dumb it may be.
Of course though, this movie definitely isn’t perfect, nor anywhere near being so. For the first hour or so, I’d say that while the movie definitely has some bright and shining moments of people being cut-up, slain, murdered and all sorts of injured, for the most part, it’s pretty damn dull. This part of the movie is where we mostly focus in on these characters, the romance and all of the other political back-stabbings going on behind the closed-doors, mainly with a mustache-twirling-without-the-mustache-performance from none other than Mr. Kiefer Sutherland himself. In fact, I’d wager that he’s probably the only real reason to be so entertained by this movie, throughout the whole damn thing. Not only does he chew the scenery up like he was a homeless man in need of a fresh bowl of soup, but he actually seems like he’s enjoying everything that was handed to him on a silver-platter. Sure, it’s as hammy as Christmas dinner, but sometimes, you just need that to survive in a movie whose IQ level is clearly 48 or below.
The main reason why Sutherland is so notable to mention, is because nothing else, for this first hour, really connects with us, or even comes close to grabbing our attention. There’s the romance in the movie that’s supposed to take center-stage and really have us feel for these two, odds-stacked-against-them-lovers, but neither Kit Harrington nor Emily Browning do anything to make us believe in their sparks of romance. Most of that isn’t their fault because, like I mentioned before, the script is utter trash, but none of them really do much other than give us the reactionary-shots that we so obviously need from them to give them any sort of personality. For Harrington, he’s supposed to look tough, angry, constipated (I guess that and “angry” sort of go hand-in-hand, because whose happy when they’re constipated, right?), and have a nice, rockin’ bod so that the camera can rub itself on it, as if Anderson himself was cheating on his own wifey-poo; and as for Browning, well, she doesn’t really do much except have the same face, the whole time, and not make us see why any dude would want to put their lives on the line for her, other than to hopefully get a sniff of her panties or something.
I don’t know, I’m just gripping at straws here.
However, once the first hour of this movie is finally over, done and said with, then, things actually start to heat up; and I mean that both literally and figuratively. For starters, not only does the actual volcano erupt and start to cause all sorts of destruction, but this is the moment where we also get to see Anderon’s sheer-love for mayhem and nonsensical violence really come into play, and give us a movie that we not only should pay attention to, but have a great time with. Everything that happens to anyone in these final 40-45 minutes is so obviously insane and wild, but that’s what actually makes the film slightly interesting, if only it’s to see how many times Anderson can get away with a PG-13 rating, despite showing people getting their throats slit, put on fire, drowning, hit in the head with rocks, stabbed in the chest and all sorts of other numerous acts of violence, and yet: Still barely show any blood.
Either way, blood or no blood, if you’re going to go and see this movie at all, and be with your drunken-buddies or girlfriend who is clearly doing you, and only you a favor (you best pay her back, boys, if you know whatta I mean?), just see it for the fact that you know the ending. And yup, that does mean that A LOT of people die. You don’t really care for it when you watch it, but then again: Do we really care about the same, real-life peoples who died some odd 1,935 years? Pretty exact, I know, but chew on that for a short while, even if you still have to catch up on your women’s hockey results.
Consensus: Absolutely, positively and completely dumb and poorly-written, but for some reason, Pompeii got better as it went along, and especially, once the volcano itself actually erupted and started to take down everybody in its path. Sounds sadistic, I know, but it’s all CGI, man. Right? Or, at least I hope.
5.5 / 10 = Rental!!