Running Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Living in the shadow of the volcano Vesuvius, the citizens of Pompeii are blissfully unaware of the danger looming over their city. When Senator Corvus (Kiefer Sutherland) and his retinue arrive at the Emperor’s behest to discuss plans to expand trade into Pompeii, they draw the ill will of a people who like their separation from the rule of Rome. Corvus also has eyes for Cassia (Emily Browning) the daughter of Severus (Jared Harris), one of Pompeii’s most influential merchants, but his anger is stoked by the fact that Cassia has turned her attentions to a mysterious gladiator, Milo (Kit Harrington). But the concerns of mortal men count for almost nothing when Vesuvius decides to unleash its fury.
Pompeii sways wildly from good to bad and back again. Good: the costumes, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Kit Harrington’s Ab’s. Bad: story, character development and Kiefer Sutherland’s accent. I can imagine that it was pitched as Gladiator meets Titanic it doesn’t manage to embody any of the best qualities of either. The dialogue is clunky to the point of being unintentionally funny, and most of the actors have no idea what they’re supposed to be doing because there is very little backstory for their characters.
The obvious showpiece of Pompeii is the eruption of Vesuvius, and giving credit where it is due, it is impressively grand. Conversely, you can see almost all of the ways the film is trying to save money so that it can sink every last dime into the climax. Every wide shot of the city looks painfully cheap and some of the sets aren’t much better. If they had managed to invest fully in the romantic connection between Cassia and Milo it would have been easy to ignore the flaws, but they spend almost no screen time together, engendering apathy towards their fates. I didn’t hate this movie, but there wasn’t an awful lot to like. C-