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Movie review: ‘Pompeii’ 3D, 5.1 out of 10, ‘Titanic’ with lava

"You don't think we're ripping off 'Gladiator' and 'Titanic', do you?"
"You don't think we're ripping off 'Gladiator' and 'Titanic', do you?"
TriStar Pictures

Pompeii

Rating:
Star2
Star
Star
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Star

5.1 out of 10

Pompeii” 3D is the epitome of a “love/hate” relationship with a film. There are parts that are easy to love and plenty of parts that are easy to hate. The film is not good enough to be good and it is not bad enough to be awful, or bad enough to be laughably good. It hangs in limbo, balancing the scales almost perfectly to be one of the most average films ever created.

“Pompeii” 3D is incredibly average. One minute you will love it. The next minute you will hate it. It’s a rollercoaster of emotion that leads to the predictable ending.

Any spoilers will be clearly marked so you can avoid reading them if you so choose.

“Pompeii” 3D opens in Baltimore on February 21, 2014.

The Good

“Pompeii” flashes moments of greatness with scenes on par with HBO’s “Rome” series. There are some great, albeit toned down for PG-13, gladiator fight scenes. Much like the film “Gladiator”, “Pompeii” follows a main character that is forced into that life. He is one tough hombre. With chiseled abs and perfect hair, he defeats foe after foe. He is driven by revenge and only wishes to live long enough to exact it (sound familiar?). These scenes are some of “Pompeii’s” finest moments. They are well choreographed and the shot selection shows the scope and fierceness of the fighting. The only downside is the fact that we have become accustomed to a certain level of blood and gore with these scenes. You won’t find that in the PG-13“Pompeii”.

The special effects and 3D are actually pretty well done. 3D is still not worth the extra money here, only being utilized during the opening credits and destruction scenes. There is not much call for added depth to most scenes and you won’t notice any. Still, when it is used, it is done well. The special effects are pretty good. By today’s standards, they won’t blow you away. But they don’t look cheesy like a bad video game trailer. The destruction scenes as the volcano erupts are pretty believable, in regards to the effects.

Some of the acting and character interactions will bring a smile to your face. It is nice to see Kiefer Sutherland back on the big screen. He does well with his pompous politician character. Emily Browning is also very good as the lead female. If she can just land a role in a semi-successful film, her career could really take off (No, “Magic Mike” does not count).

When “Pompeii” is good, you will enjoy what you are watching. There are stretches in the film that are a lot of fun. Then, you hit a bad spot…

The Bad

In the same way that this film is quite good when it gets good, it is also quite bad when it gets bad. First, the filmmakers took the cheese level to DEFCON 1. Some soap operas aren’t as cheesy as scenes in “Pompeii”. After certain scenes it is easy to sit there and think, “There is no way a human being would ever do/say that.” Sure, many things in films are complete fiction or fantasy; that’s why we watch them. But there is a difference between watching something that would not happen in real life and watching something that you can’t even believe in the setting of the film. “Pompeii” suffers from the latter. Examples in spoiler section below.

[SPOILERS BELOW]
I don’t care how much you hate someone. When a freakin’ volcano is erupting, you don’t stop to fight your enemy. You run like hell. There were several lengthy battles while all of Pompeii is being destroyed.

Even Seabiscuit couldn’t stay ahead of lava as long as that horse did.
[END SPOILERS]

The love story is so sickeningly sweet it will give you cavities. Instead of “Awwww”, we get “Uhhhhh”. They cram the love angle so far down our throats we have to tighten our shoelaces to keep it from knocking our shoes off. Enough with the really bad jokes. You will not believe one second of this love tale. It is awful.

The ending is the worst of the worst. Not only is it a straight “Titanic” rip-off (ok, so it’s a little different), but it is not the least bit romantic.

The Bottom Line

This film received a rating of 5.1 because the parts I loved were ever so slightly more numerous than the parts I hated. So, it is one tick above perfectly average. This site does not use half stars or it would be 2.5 out of 5 stars. “Pompeii” is the perfect movie for a rainy day a few months down the road when you are stuck in the house and you see it on Netflix Streaming. It’s a time killer. There is enough to enjoy that you won’t feel like you wasted the 105 minutes, and you’ll be glad you didn’t pay more than your monthly subscription fee to see it. Please don’t spend theater money on this one. The best part of this film is the fact it made me want to go back and watch “Dante’s Peak” again; “…wherever there’s a volcano with an attitude.”