Love is a powerful thing. Love can cause an eruption of emotion in one's body. The only eruption you will see in the supposed love story "Pompeii", however, is of the volcano that looms in the background of its story. The story of "Pompeii" is a mix of sword-fighting action and romance. Well, at least it wants to be romantic.
The romance between Milo and Cassia in "Pompeii" is not based on any kind of real love, but more of a love at first sight kind of thing. This is a type of love that is common in Hollywood movies, but not as common in real life. The idea that you can fall in love with a stranger at first sight and they turn out to be the perfect match for you isn't so easy to believe. You have to actually, you know, know something about a person to actually have something to love about them. The initial attraction of the first appearance of someone can only last so long. In Hollywood, however, all it takes is a longing stare and a cheesy score to find your soul mate.
"Pompeii" is not all romance though. This is a movie attempting to appeal to romantics and lovers of action. Milo, the main character of "Pompeii" is a gladiator, after all. The fights are entertaining enough, but they are brought down by the PG-13 rating. There is a lack of any blood or noticeable damage to anyone in the action scenes. When someone is stabbed they don't look any different than they did before. It's just unrealistic and can take the viewer out of the moment.
Talking about realism in "Pompeii" is pretty much useless though. Nothing about this movie is very realistic. "Pompeii" is filled with head-shaking moments. Thoughts of "How is that possible?! That's not possible!" ran through my head constantly during the course of the movie. "Pompeii" is not the kind of movie you go to for any kind of reality. "Pompeii" is merely meant as escapist entertainment. The question is: is "Pompeii" actually entertaining?
There are some charms to be had in "Pompeii". The most fun to be had in "Pompeii" is in watching Kiefer Sutherland chew the scenery in his role as the main villain in the movie. He is clearly having fun in this role. Kiefer Sutherland is so entertainingly evil that you can't help, but smile when he is on screen. This is not a deep, complex role, but a one-sided 100% villain turn. It's predictable sure, but it is pretty fun to watch.
The problem with "Pompeii" is that the rest of the film is both predictable and not that fun to watch. I mean, it moves at a decent pace and there is action throughout, but none of it is all that exciting. It has all been done before and done much better. In fact, this movie is such a predictable gladiator story that they didn't even bother getting new songs for the movie. There are only two songs listed in the end credits for "Pompeii" and, how original and daring, the songs are both from different seasons of the Starz gladiator television show "Spartacus".
Let's get back to the acting though. Kiefer Sutherland, as I stated before, is fun to watch. Adewale Akinuoye-Agbaje has emotion, even if his character, like every character in the movie, is recycled from many other similar stories. Emily Browning and Kit Harington do what they can with roles that require only one emotion, but they don't leave any kind of impression. Carrie-Anne Moss is actually rather bad as Cassia's mother and Jared Harris doesn't fare too much better as the father. Overall, the characters are bland and the acting mostly is too.
Now, it should be said that "Pompeii" at least looks nice. Well, that it is to say that the special effects and sets are all well made. The film showcases a convincing replica of Pompeii. Unfortunately, director Paul W.S. Anderson and cinematographer Glen MacPherson don't do anything interesting with any of it. The visuals of the movie are just as bland as the storytelling.
In the end, the all-too-familiar parts of "Pompeii" add up to make a rather forgettable film. There is some entertainment involving the villains of the movie, but it is not enough to carry the movie into any kind of territory that I would call good. "Pompeii" is supposed to be a romantic action movie, but it actually seems to be more of a combination of science fiction and horror. It is science fiction because it seems to have been churned out completely by a machine (going by the name of Hollywood) and it is horror because this is the frightening reality of how certain movies are made today.