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'Pompeii' is a disaster

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Pompeii

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If you go to one of the casinos here in South Florida chances are you will find a slot machine called, Pompeii. If you get a lot of volcano symbols it could mean big money. Today, February 21, a movie called "Pompeii", based on the real life disaster, is hitting theaters everywhere. At one point in the movie a character asks, "Why would the gods let this happen?" A better question would be why would they let this movie get made?

For those who are not familiar with the story, Pompeii was a city in ancient Roman times that was completely destroyed when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. "Pompeii" is about a slave/gladiator who falls in love with a noble woman with the disaster as a backdrop. The movie can best be described as "Titanic" meets "Gladiator" meets the original "Conan the Barbarian."

"Pompeii" was directed by Paul W.S. Anderson who has made his share of successful rated R movies that include "Death Race" and many of the "Resident Evil" movies. Despite the massive amount of swordplay, the PG-13 movie is pretty bloodless. It may be a sad statement that a movie needs to be more violent to be a better movie, but that is the case here. One of the elements that made "Conan" and "Gladiator" successful was its bloodletting. You can't help but to notice this movie was tempered down to get a PG-13 in hope of getting a larger audience. When you stifle a director like Mr. Anderson, the art will suffer.

The acting is not terrible in "Pompeii", but there is not much to report on it either. "Game of Throne's" Kit Harington and his six-pack serves well as the movie's hero and Emily Browning is a real head turner in it. Kiefer Sutherland, who stars as the villain, is the one who is out of place. Mr. Sutherland has played a number of memorable bad guys in the past, but his turn as Senator Corvis will not go down as one of his greats. To start, while the rest of the cast speaks with some sort of European accent, he speaks like he always does, as an American. His character is smarmy kind of fellow, but for some reason Kiefer Sutherland does not exude that in the movie. Finally, we first meet his character 17 years prior to when the bulk of the movie takes place, yet he does not appear to have aged a year.

The only positive in "Pompeii" is the 3D effects. If you feel like you must see this movie, you might as well get all you can out of it and pay the extra money to see it in 3D. Paul W.S. Anderson has shot movies in 3D before with excellent results as he uses very high end 3D camera kits. He does not shoot his movies in 2D and convert them to 3D in post-production the way Disney does with its Marvel properties. This movie looks very clean and crisp and makes fantastic use of putting objects in the background and foreground to create truly great looking cinematography. When the volcano goes off and there are fireballs flying all around and ash in the air, that's when the extra money you paid to see the movie really pays off.

The biggest put off to this movie is how utterly predictable it was. Four different screenwriters are credited for writing "Pompeii" and you would think one of them would read another's prior draft and try to add some elements of surprise to it. You see almost everything in this movie coming to the point where you feel like YOU could have written it. No one likes to watch a movie where they can say what is going to happen before it does, which is why no one should bother to see this movie. It is rated PG-13 for intense battle sequences, disaster-related action and brief sexual content.

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