Thursday, February 20, 2014
Movie review: Pompeii amuses with stunning visual effects
Even though the story lines felt flat, I couldn't look away.
The year is 79 A.D. Milo (Kit Harington), known as the Celtic, is newly arrived in Pompeii as a renowned gladiator, there to fight in a massive tournament in honor of the visit of Roman Senator Corvus. Upon his arrival, Milo comes face-to-face with the beautiful and beguiling Cassia (Emily Browning). She is the daughter of a wealthy merchant who is seeking the favor of the evil and corrupt Corvus in order to build a bigger and better Pompeii. As Mount Vesuvius erupts in a blaze of lava and fire, Milo must fight his way out of the arena and save the beautiful Cassia as the once magnificent city of Pompeii crumbles around them.
The movie also stars Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jared Harris, Dylan Schombing, Sasha Roiz, Jean Frenette, Joe Pingue, Currie Graham, Jessica Lucas, Dalmar Abuzeid and Rebecca Eady.
Pompeii is a visually stunning film that will mesmerize with its amazing effects, but it lacks the story lines to match -- thus keeping it from being truly epic or memorable unlike the city it represents.
A good way to describe Pompeii to a person who hasn’t seen it yet is HBO’s Rome combined with Game of Thrones. Meld those two TV shows together, and (visually speaking) you have Pompeii. Sony Pictures spared no expense in the set, costumes and visual effects department. I personally love historical pieces like these – yes, I watched Rome and I watch Game of Thrones – particularly when they are done well enough that I feel as if what I am watching is the past come to life. I am sure a true expert could point out subtle flaws. As a fan of the genre and for all those who are the same and will be rushing out to see this opening weekend, Pompeii hits the sweet spot visually and thematically.
RATING6/10 stars – Story lines are a bit trite but I still couldn't tear my eyes away from the screen.
Beyond the mere setting, the visual effects for the eruption of Mount Vesuvius were impressive. Audiences know what is coming, obviously, but still worry at the tremors below the characters feet. I trembled as I watched the fire balls reign down from above the city. It all just made me want to scream at the screen, telling them all to get out before it’s too late. Interesting fact - the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. was so powerful that the top of Vesuvius fell by 2,000 feet with the effects compared to a nuclear blast! The eruption so intense that it filled in new shoreline moving Pompeii more inland. Just astounding.
The brilliance of the visual effects and the settings make sense, especially since prior to production of Pompeii, filmmakers Paul Anderson, Jeremy Bolt and team spent six years researching Pompeii. They imaged every street and building in the city and the surrounding area so the film would portray this magnificent civilization as accurately as possible. The team conducted extensive flyovers of Mount Vesuvius, as well as active volcanoes, so that the imagery in the film would be as visually accurate as possible.
Of all things in that imagery, the colors of this very scary and very deadly eruption as depicted in the movie are what really pulled me in. They were so dark and ominous, yet with the brilliant oranges and reds. It was mesmerizing. Still, the final eruption wasn’t as epic as I was hoping. I guess I just expected more boom. Perhaps it felt anticlimactic because I knew it was coming.
I think some of the anticlimactic feel of the final eruption of Mount Vesuvius comes from the story lines. Putting aside the overarching story of the destruction of Pompeii, the sub plots are tired at best. Haven’t we seen the gladiator thing before? Oh yeah, in a movie called Gladiator. The fight scenes aren’t anything special. The love story is flat with little chemistry between our leading lady and leading man.
I almost wish they had told the story from the view of the everyday people of Pompeii. Combining simple stories of the everyday people of the city and having them converge at the point of disaster would have been far more interesting than another predictable love story. The plot is honestly what dropped this movie down ratings wise for me. With so rich a history to pull from, I was disappointed to be presented with a story that felt tired.
Still let’s be honest: This film is right on target for what audiences are craving these days. Hits like Game of Thrones have spurred a year filled with historical movies waiting for release on the silver screen. Now while Pompeii likely won’t be listed among the best from the critic's point of view, I believe that audiences will eat this up. They must have something to watch till the new season of Game of Thrones starts! Oh and ladies, get a good look at Kit Harrington’s abs. They don’t disappoint. Ahem … sorry, off track. Listen, if you go in expecting epic greatness, I think you will disappointed. If you go in looking for tragic story of Pompeii, you will be likely be disappointed. But if you go in hoping for historical eye candy and some pretty cool visual effects, you won’t be disappointed.
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