Jon Snow’s abs vs. the volcano.
Paul WS Anderson, 2014
As a young boy, Milo (
Jon Snow Kit Harington) watched his entire family get wiped out by the Roman Corvus (Kiefer Sutherland) and was taken into slavery. He proves to be an excellent fighter and is forced to fight and kill many other slaves for the pleasure of Romans before being carted off to Pompeii for a tournament fight. There he meets fellow slave Atticus (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), who he is set to fight, and noblewoman Cassia (Emily Browning), to whom he is instantly attracted. As he and Cassia become close, her Roman suitor, the now Senator Corvus, arrives in Pompeii to win her hand. Seeing his chance at revenge, Milo becomes more determined in his fighting. Meanwhile, Mount Vesuvius grumbles and cracks behind the city, finally exploding and causing our heroes to run for their lives. While also having fights. Because that makes sense, right?
This is like an insane cable TV movie with a bigger budget and weirdly talented actors performing horribly. It’s all action and CG interspersed with heavy “drama” scenes filled with cheesy dialogue performed in British accents of varying quality, in wonderfully and impractically skimpy costumes of silk and leather and curls! Curls everywhere! I actually, genuinely got in trouble from the people sitting in front of me for laughing almost every time Kiefer Sutherland, in all his Roman finery, opened his mouth to say something Naughty and Evil. Sasha Roiz, whom I adore, exists in this movie entirely to stand around at Kiefer’s side and look handsome. Jared Harris plays Cassia’s father and out-classes every single person he has a scene with. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, who played the very memorable Mr. Eko on Lost, is shackled (ha) with a pretty trite role here (not that any role is very original). Game of Thrones’ Kit Harington is surprisingly not too terrible, but he’s not really a great leading man either. It’s such a hilarious, confusing movie, a kitchen-sink mix of disaster movie, swords-and-sandals epic, and historical romance with very little historical about it. There’s even a hint of a buddy-cop movie in the opponent slaves who become best friends.
There is an unfortunate kill-the-blacks-at-the-expense-of-the-whities element to the film. The black people are all slaves, of course, with AAA getting the most heroic scenes and Jessica Lucas getting a really unfortunate death. Emily Browning pretty much exists to look pretty and damsel towards the climax after getting a few jabs in earlier in the movie – I miss the days when Carrie-Anne Moss was kicking ass rather than playing mothers and dying. The CG is…probably better than the CG in Noah, actually. The volcano looms large in the background of every. single. shot of the recreated city of Pompeii, which impressively has its own character, historically inaccurate as that might be (have fun with the tsunami, guys). There’s not a single moment in this film that’s unpredictable or surprising, it’s essentially Pompeii: Trope City, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun if you’re prepared not to take it seriously.
Pompeii on IMDb