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DVD review: Pompeii: A redundant bore that falls way short of being epic.

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Pomepii

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Historical movies are some of the hardest to effectively pull off. The fictional versions of the events always have one of two possible outcomes. Either the fans love and embrace the fictional version or they loathe it because it isn’t truthful enough to the events. Two great examples are two movies that were released in 2004. Passion of The Christ (the fans loved it) and Alexander (The fans hated it). Both films were good depictions of the characters had the lives of the great historical figures that the movies are based on; however, both films had received in polar opposites to movie lovers. “Passion” was embraced and has become one of the best adaptations of the story of Christ. Alexander on the other hand has been widely criticized for its depiction of the titular figure.
Pompeii is a disappointingly mediocre chore of viewing that merges some great cinematography with a substandard story to give a fictional account of the devastating real life historical event. A disappointing convergence of Gladiator meets 2012. The film stars Kitt Harrington (Silent Hill: Revelation), Emily Browning (Sucker Punch), Kiefer Sutherland (Melancholia), Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Thor: The Dark World), Carrie Ann-Moss (Silent Hill: Revelation), and Jared Harris (Mortal Instruments: City of Bones).
Synopsis: “A slave turned gladiator finds himself in a race against time to save his true love, who has been betrothed to a corrupt Roman Senator. As Mount Vesuvis erupts, he must fight to save his beloved as Pompeii crumbles around him.”
The story of Pompeii feels extremely predictable to the point of being redundant. The slave who rises to claim the heart and hand of the privileged but off limits woman. The back story has been told far too many times before this story and this one does no aspect better than any of the many times that the same details have been merged with this type of story. Pompeii feels as if the makers of this film seen every other historical movie and then decided to steal elements of those to help lead up to the big event. There is barely any originality to it at all. It’s been done so many times in this type of movie that it feels like you’re stuck in a state of déjà vu.
The second downfall of the movie is that it takes too long to get to the big event. It’s like Titanic but on a smaller scale without the entertainment of the story to keep us interested until the climax. The movie is billed for the catastrophic event but it really does very little leading up to it. There are hardly any scenes that are used to create anticipation for it. With the exception of a couple of small scenes, it’s just an hour plus of waiting for what we really came to see.
The cinematography and sets are the most impressive aspect of this disappointing condemning. The sets, wardrobe, and special effects are grade A. From the very first images of the ash covered bodies to the last scene before the credits, every frame of the film is a visual marvel. It has to be one of the most impressive period movies visually. The final climax does not disappoint. As the mountain erupts and creates chaos then devastation, the movie captures it and makes you feel as if you are right in the middle of it all. It’s just sad that this was wasted on this story. Had the story been better, this could have been an epic.
Kitt Harrington and Adewalae have some good moments as gladiators that become friends. Harrington’s strong silent character is all too stereotypical. Like the rest of the film. It’s just a collaborative regurgitation of other characters that has appeared in other historical based movies. Adewalae has a decent role as a supporting character. This one too however is just a rehashing of Djimon Hunsou’s character in Gladiator (2000). The rest of the cast, Kifer Sutherland, Emily Browning, and Carrie Ann Moss aren’t much better but their shortcomings are more of a lack of effort from the writers of the film.
Pompeii isn’t an epic by any means. The story is slow moving. The first 30 minute is almost a waste. It has a predictable back story and the characters are so stereotypical that it is disgusting. This movie should has a good ending but after sitting the entire time waiting for it, it loses far too much of the impact. The final diagnosis is that Pompeii falls short on entertainment value. The movie isn’t much more than something to do if it pops up on cable or if you can’t find anything else to watch on Netflix. If you have never seen it then you shouldn’t worry about at it as you won’t be missing anything.

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