Every year there are big disaster epics that hit theaters to mixed results. Some of them are based on actual events and usually have some twist of fiction in hopes to make it something more. The latest, Pompeii looks to do just that using the back drop of the famed volcano eruption to set the tone, but does bringing more story elements beyond the eruption itself work to make it stand out or will the lava take over faster than it can come to life?
Pompeii follows a slave turned gladiator who is thrust into a race against time to save his true love who has been betrothed to a corrupt Roman Senator against her will. But when Mount Vesuvius erupts sending the city into chaos he must fight his way out of the arena to save her as the city crumbles around them. This film sports a decent cast including Kit Harrington, Carrie-Anne Moss, Emily Browning, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jared Harris, and Kiefer Sutherland but still struggles to really find its footing. This film uses the exact same formula of Titanic using this historical tragedy and fill sit with some random love story in hopes to create some of the human emotion to what they must have dealt with. Had they focused on a more ensemble type of direction allowing the viewer to see more of the situations and reactions to those endangered by this eruption it would have worked a lot better. Instead they create a gladiator story arc so that they can showcase numerous action sequences outside of the volcano in hopes to keep you on the edge of your seat. These sequences are well shot and choreographed, but with the nature of the story just felt forced. For the majority of the movie you almost forget that you are watching anything related to this historical tragedy and instead just feels like another gladiator film, that never really allows the tension of what is about to change these peoples live to grow. The performances are fine across the board, with really only Keifer Sutherland feeling out of place. He doesn’t give a bad performance or anything and it is cool seeing him do something different, but for some reason he just didn’t fit the part.
This is one of those movies that isn’t horrible by any means, but takes the wrong approach to tell this story and never steps out of being average. For all the issues the ending of the film when the volcano does erupt looks great with some awesome visuals that would have been the perfect cap of it all had the story been stronger.