Film review: Pompeii

In one of the final scenes of yet another film set in the ancient Roman Empire, two lovers embrace each other on a hilltop as the pyroclastic clouds billowing out from the erupting Mount Vesuvius in the distance bear down on them with frightening speed. But they are calm and at peace, because they have each other, and at least they get to greet their imminent death with a kiss.

We’re spared watching this all play out in slow motion, but you get the idea. These films are never entirely serious, and that is certainly the case here in Paul W.S. Anderson’s Pompeii, despite the gruesome deaths by fire (and by water — when a freak tsunami suddenly envelops the exposed seaside city) so many of its characters die in the eruptive final act.

The first two acts set up a story of revenge and survival, with a requisite Roman high-ranking official — in this case, a Senator Corvus (Kiefer Sutherland) — always in the picture and on the scene, even when it makes no sense for him to be there. It features many a sword fight in the arena, although the emotional backbone to the actions of the hero is rather weak.

The main character is Milo (Kit Harington), a gladiator we first meet in the ring in Londinium, Britannia, in 79 A.D. Not only is he ripped like a bodybuilder, but he seems to be in total control of the arena, no matter who his competition is, or how many of them he has to defeat. How he got to be this kind of a fighting machine we don’t know, but it probably has something to do with the scene he witnessed as a boy, when Senator Corvus slaughtered his mother.

To read the full review, visit The Prague Post.

(Still of Kiefer Sutherland and Kit Harington in Pompeii. Photo by George Kraychyk – © 2014 Constantin Film International GmbH and Impact Pictures (Pompeii) Inc. All rights reserved.)