Pompeii: Movie Review

Mar 10, 2014 | 2014 Articles, Movies, Sarah Peterson-Camacho

by Sarah A. Peterson

Special coupon for Dinuba Platinum Theatre at the end of this review.

Ashes drift down like black snow through the hazy air, past cowering bodies turned to stone, frozen in time at the moment of death.

This is the haunting image that opens Pompeii, the latest effects-driven guilty pleasure from director Paul W.S. Anderson (of Resident Evil fame). Known for his lack of subtlety and “bigger is better” attitude, Anderson pulls out all the stops on this one, from the romantic melodrama of the first half to the visual fireworks of the last.

Pompeii tells the story of the doomed Italian resort town that met its fiery end after the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D., as seen through the eyes of Celtic slave-turned-gladiator Milo (Kit Harington of Game of Thrones). En route to Pompeii with a bevy of fellow gladiators, he quickly comes to the aid of noblewoman Cassia (Emily Browning, Sucker Punch), who is returning home after a year in Rome.

And so begins a proverbial case of forbidden love, as Cassia is betrothed to the lecherous Roman Senator Corvus (played with wicked glee by Kiefer Sutherland), and Milo appears destined to die at the hands of champion gladiator Atticus (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), only one fight away from winning his freedom.

But fate has other plans in store for these characters as Mt. Vesuvius gurgles ominously on the edge of town. Milo teams up with Atticus to plot revenge after recognizing Corvus as the man responsible for the slaughter of his family 17 years previous.

The premise is heavily reminiscent of the recently concluded Starz series Spartacus, but with less blood and no sex to keep things PG-13. And while this particular story has been done to death (sometimes literally) in numerous other films, the events leading up to the explosive finish are quite engrossing and enjoyable to watch.

Harington and Browning play the lovers Milo and Cassia sweet and earnest, while Sutherland chews up every scene he’s in as the deliciously evil Corvus. The fight sequences are expertly executed, blood-lite but not without heft. Akinnuoye-Agbaje is particularly adept at wielding a blade with deadly aim.

And then there’s the volcano. The eruption of Mt. Vesuvius and its destruction of Pompeii are nothing short of spectacular, a masterpiece of special effects wizardry. Fireballs rip through the city, causing a massive tidal wave that doubles back to swallow up fleeing citizens before they can burn.

The ground buckles and buildings collapse, punctuated by Clinton Shorter’s booming score, as characters exact revenge and plot their escape from the crumbling terrain. But blistering waves of smoke and hot ash smother everything in their wake, blotting out even the sun.

The final sequence is as romantic and heartbreaking as any I’ve ever seen onscreen, and Pompeii ends as it began, ashes wafting like black snow around a final embrace.

Pompeii is playing at Dinuba Platinum Theatres 6. Showtimes can be found on their website. Platinum Theaters Dinuba 6 now proudly presents digital quality films in 2-D and 3-D with 5.1 Dolby digital surround sound to maximize your movie experience.

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Sarah A. Petersonis a library assistant with Fresno County Library, with a Bachelor’s in English and a Bachelor’s in Journalism from California State University, Fresno. In her free time, she makes soap and jewelry that she sells at Fresno-area craft fairs. She has written for The Clovis Roundup and the Central California Paranormal Investigators (CCPI) Newsletter.


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