Paul W.S. Anderson‘s latest disaster movie Pompeii is the type of failure that only a hack like Anderson could deliver. Pompeii is a modestly-budgeted disaster film that mostly looks and feels incredibly cheap and that fact is only backed up by a handful of cringe-worthy performances that are interwoven with a “love” story that contains not a single heartbeat. I’m not sure who thought it was a good idea to give Anderson this much money to make so little. Pompeii is a flaming disaster, with a weak foundation, shaky plot and characters that fall by the waist side.
Milo (Kit Harington) is a slave with a past. Cassia (Emily Browning) is the daughter of very wealthy people in Pompeii. The two were obviously never met to meet, let alone fall in love, but such happens and now Milo is fighting for his freedom and his true love.
Unfortunately for the two of them, the great Mount Vesuvius is getting ready to erupt and bring down terror and destruction on everyone and everything. This is their fate and they cannot escape it.
That’s about as deep as director Paul W.S. Anderson goes with his latest disaster film, Pompeii. Sure, he scatters on some useless subplots and a character or two that gets more than five lines, but most of it is filler, building to the eventual climax of fire, doom and chaos.
There’s just no caring about anyone or anything in a film that has a selling point of a giant volcano erupting and killing everyone in its path. You just want to get to that point and there’s really no reason to get invested when you know the inevitable outcome. Anderson kind of gets that, yet he still tries to force his leading characters down our throats, filling the screen with cringe-worthy dialog that comes out in clunky form by Kit Harington, Emily Browning and the seasoned Kiefer Sutherland.
No one really seems to care about a thing and it shows quickly as Milo goes from being a quiet and mysterious gladiator to a sweetheart with a silver tongue. Suddenly, romance is forced onto the film and that’s precisely when Anderson realizes that he’s bit off more than he can chew, which results in him backtracking to the slow motion action sequences.
Anderson knows how to film action just fine. He points and shoots and adds very little flavor when the time calls for it, but that’s okay, because Pompeii never claims to be anything more than a disaster movie.
And Anderson does a fine job once the finale comes into full swing. The volcano looks and sounds dangerous, even if its entire execution is lacking creativity and real intensity. Too much of the film feels like a green screen creation and the 3D rarely crosses over the gimmick territory.
Anderson is no Roland Emmerich, which means that his shots are quicker, less focused and much more cluttered. Buildings crumble and characters die and you as an audience member will be left scratching your head wondering who is still left alive and who has already been slaughtered by a random chunk of debris.
Pompeii is the type of movie that will have you rooting for the active volcano. You’ll be staring at your watch, waiting and hoping for the eruption. I know that sounds sad, but you’ll understand exactly what I mean if you ever decide to watch this film, which I highly suggest against. There’s nothing to enjoy about this film, even including the eruption of the volcano. Disaster movies tend to be brainless and bloated and Pompeii is no exception, only this time the actual reveal isn’t all that special.
You’ll be clapping and cheering once the fireballs come crashing down, but that excitement will be followed by immediate disappointment as Paul W.S. Anderson‘s true “talents” as a filmmaker are revealed.
Pompeii will leave you wishing that the film landed into the hands of a much more gifted filmmaker or at least someone with a better sense of scope and pacing. The film is terribly paced and includes far too many scenes of pointless dialog and bloated story extension, even though the actual story goes nowhere. The ending might make up for it slightly, but it never quite reaches that level of fine-tuned explosions and destruction. It instead lingers on made-for-TV garbage.
Pompeii – 5.5/10