POMPEII – Review by Susan Granger

0 Flares 0 Flares ×

Paul W.S. Anderson’s sword-and-sandals epic plays like a video game version of a disaster movie, commencing with Pliny the Younger’s first-hand account of the A.D. 79 calamity in which his esteemed uncle, soldier/scholar Pliny the Elder, perished in the bay at Stabiae. Read on…

Previous to that, however, in northern Britannia, a youngster named Milo watches as his family and entire tribe, the Celtic Horse Peoples, are slaughtered by marauding Roman soldiers under the command of decadent General Corvus (Kiefer Sutherland), who is determined to extend the reign of Emperor Andronicus. Young Milo is captured and enslaved. Within 15 years, he has become an accomplished Londinium gladiator and is shipped off to Pompeii, near Naples in Southern Italy.

That’s where muscle-bound Milo (Kit Harrington) catches the eye of a beautiful maiden, Cassia (Emily Browning), daughter of an upper-class merchant (Jared Harris) and his noble wife (Carrie-Ann Moss). Not so coincidentally, Cassia has been betrothed to gross, now-Senator Corvus. Meanwhile, the Vinalia festival is underway and the African champion, Atticus (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), is only one death-match victory away from emancipation. So those are the stakes: Milo needs to wreak vengeance against Corvus, who must not marry Cassia, and Atticus must earn his freedom.

While the campy beefcake quotient is high, director Paul W.S. Anderson (Resident Evil, Mortal Kombat) and screenwriters Janet Scott Batchler, Lee Batchler and Michael Robert Johnson formulate a cheesy, cliché-riddled poor boy/rich girl Titanic-like scenario, never allowing us forget that volcanic Mount Vesuvius looms in the Coliseum’s background, ready to bury everyone in bubbling lava.

Visually, the 3D adds little, particularly since it darkens what’s already dim, so if you’re determined to see this, go for the 2D version. Insofar as the acting goes, it’s one-dimensional. While Kit Harrington may be memorable as part of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” ensemble, he lacks singular charisma, along with Australian actress Emily Browning, leaving the scenery-chewing to Kiefer Sutherland, who relishes every evil moment.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, Pompeii blows an ill-fated 4. With fireballs falling from the sky, it’s catastrophic.

0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 0 Flares ×

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.