Pompeii - Online Review

'Sutherland has a ball attempting something that may have been an English accent before he rolled it around his mouth and decided he didn't like it'

'Borrowing' a surprisingly large chunk of Gladiator's core story, Pompeii probably deserves some level of praise for casting its sights higher than your common or garden Paul W.S. Anderson film. Sure, this might not be entirely original and the clunky script is delivered with the usual over-directed flashing, but at least we're not in the realms of adding flying airships to 17th Century France and choosing Gladiator as a touchstone does at least give your film more chance of success than choosing Death Race.

In all fairness to Anderson too, he does know how to move a story onwards at pace and with clarity, and he benefits here from having the grumbling talent of Kiefer Sutherland as a bad guy, clearly labelled 'bad' from the very outset. Anderson does not paint in shades of grey and when he tries - such as with the poor good/bad characterisation of Aurelia and Severus (a wasted Carrie-Anne Moss and Jared Harris) - he typically falls over into mawkishness, or failed sentiment.

The director is much more successful here whilst negotiating the overtly 'good' Milo and Cassia (Kit Harrington and Emily Browning) arc and populating it with choice miniature sections that advance the ominous rumbling from the volcano in the background as a key element, sure to show up in the final reel. The attempted escape by the gladiator-wrangler (Joe Pingue) before the rock and fire starts to reign down provides variety and a late night horse ride by one of Cassia's servants is effective.

Meanwhile, Sutherland has a ball attempting something that may have been an English accent before he rolled it around his mouth and decided he didn't like it. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje provides effective support for Harrington, who looks fairly at home in these surroundings, and his relationship with Cassia, whilst never quite believeable, does at least graduate to 'sweet'. Anderson might not have a great film within him, but if he can hone his wannabe-blockbuster craft to this sort of level, and keep it there successfully, then that will not necessarily be such a bad thing. Significant credit is also due to him for not skipping out on the tragedy of the finale, when in fact it would have been so easy to do just that.




Pompeii was playing on Blinkbox.


By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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