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“Pompeii” Movie Review #1

(edited for spoilers)

A love story. Gladiator fights. Politics. An exploding volcano. Kiefer Sutherland as a Roman Senator.

“Pompeii” is an entertaining B movie. The visual effects technology available can take a B movie like “Pompeii” and make it look bigger and better than it would have years ago. “Pompeii” benefits greatly from that, taking a middling script where you can guess what’s coming next or what’s going to be said and make it look fantastic and immersive (the movie is released in 2D and 3D formats). After watching it in 2D I felt the movie would have been more fun in 3D.

“Pompeii” is the latest from director Paul W.S. Anderson, a love story about two people form the wrong side of the tracks set against the backdrop of a terrible event in history where a city of 20,000 people were destroyed (and lost for 1500 years) after the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. As a filmmaker, Anderson has a long career making visually interesting movies that are sometimes thin on substance.

As “Pompeii” unfolds there are moments where the earth shakes, the structures creaking and cracking. Characters watch it curiously, scared and confused. For the audience it’s mildly amusing, knowing what this is leading up to. It’s all part of the entertainment, not much different than the spectacle of the gladiator fights.

There’s little new in “Pompeii,” we’ve seen this story and its scenes before (“Conan the Barbarian,” “Titanic,” “Gladiator”). That isn’t the problem. It’s mostly the plain, wooden dialogue that as basic as basic comes (“Wake up, scum!”) and sometimes silly (“That’s the mountain, she grumbles sometimes”).

In the end “Pompeii” works as Saturday afternoon entertainment. It’s not groundbreaking or original, its just fun. Watching Anderson’s work over the years it’s clear he loves making movies and how it becomes part of pop culture. As someone who’s watched his movies and groaned more than once, I enjoyed “Pompeii.” It’s honest about what it is.

Read the rest of the review here.


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