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Review: Pompeii

Pompeii
1 year agoby:
6 10

PLOT: Milo (Kit Harington) Ė a young Celtic gladiator enslaved in the doomed city of Pompeii Ė falls in love with the daughter (Emily Browning) of a wealthy merchant, who happens to be betrothed to bloodthirsty Roman Senator Colvis (Kiefer Sutherland), the very man who murdered his parents years earlier. Will Milo be able to save his lady love from the clutches of Colvis and have his revenge? And whatís with all the weird rumblings coming from Mount Vesuvius?

REVIEW: Take GLADIATOR, mix it in with a heavy dose of TITANIC, add a dash of SPARTACUS and GAME OF THRONES, and what do you get? The answer is something pretty close to Paul W.S Andersonís POMPEII, a film that so liberally steals from other bigger and better movies (and TV shows) that it becomes a kind of pastiche. Still, despite its watered-down GLADIATOR-esque fights and cheesy plot, POMPEII canít help but be a reasonably entertaining 100 minutes, and one of director Andersonís better films.

Andersonís always been a tough guy to peg. Heís made a lot of bad movies (his recent THREE MUSKETEERS arguably being the worst) but Iíd hesitate to call him an out-and-out bad director. MORTAL KOMBAT is ultra-cheesy, retro nineties fun, while EVENT HORIZON is derivative, but very stylish and entertaining. Technically, he has skill, and itís not fair to slot him with a hack like Uwe Boll, as given the right script and resources he could probably make a very decent film (something I donít think Boll is capable of). POMPEIIís certainly not a very good movie, but itís not bad and probably the closest Andersonís come to doing a good film since DEATH RACE.

Certainly, itís a far cry from being perfect, or even really good. For one thing, it offers nothing you havenít seen before. The first two-thirds feels like a watered-down GLADIATOR rip-off, right down to the Hans Zimmer-clone score (complete with some Lisa Gerrard style wailings). The early scenes showing Miloís family being wiped-out is lifted almost verbatim from CONAN THE BARBARIAN (only with Kiefer Sutherlandís Romans versus James Earl Jonesí snake cult). Still, even here the film is reasonably diverting.

GAME OF THONESí Kit Haringtom certainly makes for a fit gladiator (sporting six-pack abs that are so well-defined they almost look CGI-enhanced), and while he doesnít do much here thatís too different from what he does as Jon Snow on GAME OF THRONES, it canít be denied heís a good fit for the genre. Emily Browning is more-or-less window dressing as the doe-eyed girl with a crush on our muscled hero, but the two make for an attractive pair even if their romance has very little depth. Not-so-coincidently, it feels like a retread of the Tom Branson-Lady Sybil storyline from DOWNTON ABBEY, which is fitting with Julian Fellowes having apparently had a hand in the screenplay.

LOSTís Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje arguably has the movieís best part as an aging gladiator on the cusp of winning his freedom whoís paired with Milo in the ring. Anyone who remembers Woody Strodeís conflicted gladiator from Stanley Kubrickís SPARTACUS will find this part familiar, but Akinnuoye-Agbaje is charismatic and gets the movieís best mano-a-mano fight in the climax. Meanwhile, Kiefer Sutherland camps it up like never before as the Roman baddie. His performance is highly stylized, with him playing it with a constant sneer thatís not unlike the swashbuckling villains Basil Rathbone played in the thirties and forties. Normally, this kind of scenery chewing would be off-putting, but it fits the film and heís fun to watch.

Being so prominently billed as POMPEII 3D, arguably the main goal of the movie is to provide audiences with some eye candy. Everything before the eruption is fairly stale visually, with the 3D being rather flat. The only time it really pays off is during the half-hour long fall of Pompeii, and the CGI effects are good (it feels like most of the budget was saved for the climax), even if this never feels like more than a B-level spectacle. Still, for what it is itís not bad.

The trailers for POMPEII promised audiences nothing more than a silly but fun Roman sword ní sandal romp, and thatís exactly what director Anderson has delivered. Itís not a great film, but it makes for a decent hour and forty minutes of entertainment. Itís a huge improvement over THREE MUSKETEERS 3D (thankfully modern slang is mostly absent here) and will probably satisfy genre fans who just want eye candy. Keep your expectations in check and you should have a good time.

Extra Tidbit: If you want to see a really good Pompeii movie, check out 1935's THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII. It was Schoedsack-Cooper's follow-up to KING KONG, and it's unfairly obscure and tons of fun.
Source: JoBlo.com

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+0
6:03PM on 02/22/2014
Just saw it. I thought it was pretty decent. Kiefer Sutherland was odd casting and Carrie-Anne Moss was wallpaper, but the action was decent but very non graphic for this type of movie. I guess I'm still in Spartacus mode when it comes to sword and sandal movies. I think 6 out of 10 is the right score.
Just saw it. I thought it was pretty decent. Kiefer Sutherland was odd casting and Carrie-Anne Moss was wallpaper, but the action was decent but very non graphic for this type of movie. I guess I'm still in Spartacus mode when it comes to sword and sandal movies. I think 6 out of 10 is the right score.
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7:18AM on 02/22/2014

Saw this movie

I usually enjoy Paul Anderson movies (for whatever thats worth) as it allows me to turn my brain off once in a while. Event horizon, mortal kombat, death race, R:E 1. I thought that this would be enjoyable enough. However, every actor in this movie is horribly miscast with the exception of Mr Eko. It was enjoyable in terms of I was giggling at some of the more ridiculous bits of the movie. It wasnt a baaaaaad way to spend 1h30 mins if you dont mind having a MST3K style experience.
I usually enjoy Paul Anderson movies (for whatever thats worth) as it allows me to turn my brain off once in a while. Event horizon, mortal kombat, death race, R:E 1. I thought that this would be enjoyable enough. However, every actor in this movie is horribly miscast with the exception of Mr Eko. It was enjoyable in terms of I was giggling at some of the more ridiculous bits of the movie. It wasnt a baaaaaad way to spend 1h30 mins if you dont mind having a MST3K style experience.
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4:51AM on 02/21/2014
Honestly, even if it was a really good film, I probably wouldn't be able to watch it just because of what I know about historical Pompeii. Namely, that the volcanic eruption caused a thermal shock, which instantly killed everyone long before the ash and fire buried the city. So I'd be cringing at all those inevitable "running away from the volcano" scenes, many of which even showed up in the trailer.

I mean, if it was fantastical, with gods and other mythical things, I wouldn't care. But
Honestly, even if it was a really good film, I probably wouldn't be able to watch it just because of what I know about historical Pompeii. Namely, that the volcanic eruption caused a thermal shock, which instantly killed everyone long before the ash and fire buried the city. So I'd be cringing at all those inevitable "running away from the volcano" scenes, many of which even showed up in the trailer.

I mean, if it was fantastical, with gods and other mythical things, I wouldn't care. But if you're trying to be pseudo-realistic, you're gonna lose me if you bullshit the actual event. That just tells me you half-assed your research. And if you half-assed that, you probably half-assed everything.
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4:32AM on 02/21/2014

I think.....

the decent review might come from the all the advertising dollars that Joblo probably got from smear pop up ads all over the sight
the decent review might come from the all the advertising dollars that Joblo probably got from smear pop up ads all over the sight
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4:16AM on 02/21/2014
The film was so mediocre, it was forgettable. This film barely entertains. And I am a Paul WS Anderson defendant as I have enjoyed most of the films I've seen of his. But he has become such a lazy filmmaker. The only part that I can truly claim to have enjoyed was the final stretch. The stuff involving the volcano was a decent bit of disaster cinema, but the boring, cliche gladiator story was pretty damn boring and that was a majority of the film.
The film was so mediocre, it was forgettable. This film barely entertains. And I am a Paul WS Anderson defendant as I have enjoyed most of the films I've seen of his. But he has become such a lazy filmmaker. The only part that I can truly claim to have enjoyed was the final stretch. The stuff involving the volcano was a decent bit of disaster cinema, but the boring, cliche gladiator story was pretty damn boring and that was a majority of the film.
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6:13PM on 02/20/2014

I read it blows

All kidding aside, the guy has made entertaining popcorn films, and one genuinely scary sci fi horror hybrid that in my opinion stands up very well. I have zero problem with Anderson (other than the fact he stole Jovovich away from me). Not every movie has to be effin' Chinatown, there is nothing wrong with pure escapism now and then
All kidding aside, the guy has made entertaining popcorn films, and one genuinely scary sci fi horror hybrid that in my opinion stands up very well. I have zero problem with Anderson (other than the fact he stole Jovovich away from me). Not every movie has to be effin' Chinatown, there is nothing wrong with pure escapism now and then
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10:54AM on 02/20/2014

Good to hear

Good to hear it was a fun movie, that's all I wanted.

P.S.
I actually enjoyed 3 Musketeers, anyone else?
Good to hear it was a fun movie, that's all I wanted.

P.S.
I actually enjoyed 3 Musketeers, anyone else?
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1:18PM on 02/20/2014
Myself as well. I thought Three Muskateers was fun. Just fun. Not bad, or good, or transcendent... just a fun, stylized escape from reality with cool action scenes.
Myself as well. I thought Three Muskateers was fun. Just fun. Not bad, or good, or transcendent... just a fun, stylized escape from reality with cool action scenes.
3:39PM on 02/20/2014
I thought it was very entertaining. I own several Musketeer movies and I thought this one was fun.
I thought it was very entertaining. I own several Musketeer movies and I thought this one was fun.
10:52AM on 02/20/2014
Uwe Boll has made a good film...entertaining anyways...it's called Rampage. Paul WS Anderson made Event Horizon, which is great. However most of their works are pieces of cinematic shit. So, yeah, I do kind of lump these two into the same directorial category.
Uwe Boll has made a good film...entertaining anyways...it's called Rampage. Paul WS Anderson made Event Horizon, which is great. However most of their works are pieces of cinematic shit. So, yeah, I do kind of lump these two into the same directorial category.
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10:24AM on 02/20/2014

So Jack Bauers not going to save everyone?

Saw this last night at a screening, the writing was really bad, it's hard to judge the acting based on the material. in the end people were laughing which was weird.... 3d and effects were decent. Movie felt like a direct to video version of 300 or sparticus episode minus the gore. I'd give it 2/10, on the other hand my dad liked it so to each his own.
Saw this last night at a screening, the writing was really bad, it's hard to judge the acting based on the material. in the end people were laughing which was weird.... 3d and effects were decent. Movie felt like a direct to video version of 300 or sparticus episode minus the gore. I'd give it 2/10, on the other hand my dad liked it so to each his own.
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+2
6:28AM on 02/20/2014
THREE MUSKETEERS was not good but it had a great cast (mostly: Mads Mikkelsen, Christoph Waltz and Ray Stevenson) and I know some may think otherwise but I rather watch that than one of Andersen's Resident Evil sequels, which I find one of the worst scripted movie franchises.
THREE MUSKETEERS was not good but it had a great cast (mostly: Mads Mikkelsen, Christoph Waltz and Ray Stevenson) and I know some may think otherwise but I rather watch that than one of Andersen's Resident Evil sequels, which I find one of the worst scripted movie franchises.
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+2
5:54AM on 02/20/2014
I'll be seeing it. I can't help it. I'm a sucker for sword and sandal flicks.
I'll be seeing it. I can't help it. I'm a sucker for sword and sandal flicks.
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3:46AM on 02/20/2014

Paul WS Anderson is my hero...

For me, that guy is the Renny Harlin of the 2000's and 2010's. really... I wait every movie with impatience ! He makes assumed B movies, " turn off your brain " movies that I love ! And, maybe, you disagree, but in his movies, the 3D is very well used and brings really something to the action sequences (unlike many blockbusters where the 3D is just a gimmick and a " grab as much money as you can "). When I Watch his filmography, I only remeber good time at the movies and guilty pleasure : All
For me, that guy is the Renny Harlin of the 2000's and 2010's. really... I wait every movie with impatience ! He makes assumed B movies, " turn off your brain " movies that I love ! And, maybe, you disagree, but in his movies, the 3D is very well used and brings really something to the action sequences (unlike many blockbusters where the 3D is just a gimmick and a " grab as much money as you can "). When I Watch his filmography, I only remeber good time at the movies and guilty pleasure : All the RE, Mortal Kombat, The 3 musqueteers, Soldier, death Race, and finaly, Event Horizon is for me one of the best sci fi movies of the 90's !Only AVp really annoyed me, but c'mon, this guy is a really good entertainmer, a good dam directeor who deserves respect for bringing so many hours of happiness !
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4:59AM on 02/20/2014
I disagree with all of that except Event Horizon was decent, and Mortal Kombat was fun. But even those exceptions, and the rest of his films, are just sloppy and amateur.
I disagree with all of that except Event Horizon was decent, and Mortal Kombat was fun. But even those exceptions, and the rest of his films, are just sloppy and amateur.
3:41AM on 02/20/2014
Wasn't expecting a 6 out of 10, but if people enjoy these type of films then more power to them. I definitely agree that it looks like a mash up of alot of films that came before it that were much much better quality wise.
Wasn't expecting a 6 out of 10, but if people enjoy these type of films then more power to them. I definitely agree that it looks like a mash up of alot of films that came before it that were much much better quality wise.
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5:40AM on 02/20/2014
I thought this would have been right up your street.
I thought this would have been right up your street.
11:16AM on 02/20/2014
Ha. You wish.
Ha. You wish.
4:49AM on 02/21/2014
Not sure why i wish that. You usually LOVE this type of crap.
Not sure why i wish that. You usually LOVE this type of crap.
3:24AM on 02/20/2014
I'm a fan of Kit Harrington and find Emily Browning to be pretty damn hot, also 6 out of 10 is a lot higher than I thought this one would get, but still can't imagine paying to watch this movie.
I'm a fan of Kit Harrington and find Emily Browning to be pretty damn hot, also 6 out of 10 is a lot higher than I thought this one would get, but still can't imagine paying to watch this movie.
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-3
3:17AM on 02/20/2014

your wrong

Rampage from uwe boll is a very solid movie, and postal has its moments, otherthen that, yes he makes shitty movies and gets well known actors in them by threathening their family or something.
Anderson has made some pretty entertaining movies, he should be used as a second director to someone who knows how to create a good original story.
Haha i can already see the studios give him the job for the next die hard, would fit in perfectly after the previous 2.
Rampage from uwe boll is a very solid movie, and postal has its moments, otherthen that, yes he makes shitty movies and gets well known actors in them by threathening their family or something.
Anderson has made some pretty entertaining movies, he should be used as a second director to someone who knows how to create a good original story.
Haha i can already see the studios give him the job for the next die hard, would fit in perfectly after the previous 2.
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3:31AM on 02/20/2014
I agree with you on rampage. Watched in on netflix out of morbid curiosity and was actually surprised but postal I couldn't even finish
I agree with you on rampage. Watched in on netflix out of morbid curiosity and was actually surprised but postal I couldn't even finish
8:41AM on 02/20/2014
I was going to say the same thing. Rampage was straight up awesome. I havent seen Postal but Boll's House of the Dead movie was terrible.
I was going to say the same thing. Rampage was straight up awesome. I havent seen Postal but Boll's House of the Dead movie was terrible.
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