Let’s Get Reel


Photo courtesy of impawards.com
Photo courtesy of impawards.com


You know what movie was good? Titanic.  You know what else was good? Gladiator. Pompeii is like someone tried watching both movies at once and tried to write down what happened, except at the end some other guy put 2012 on and everything just fell apart.

This movie isn’t good. In fact I might go so far as to call it terrible.  The story centers on Kit Harrington’s Milo, a Celtic tribesman whose entire village was slaughtered by Kiefer Sutherland, portraying Jack Bauer as weird Roman Cal Hockley.  Milo escapes and is sold into slavery, where he becomes The Spaniard from Gladiator.  I’m not kidding, his name is The Celt and his first scene is basically the “Are you not entertained!” scene without any weight.  Harrington does a fine job at standing around shirtless and brooding, but is largely not given much of a personality outside of “likes horses and Emily Browning.”

Browning is our Rose for this film.  She’s a strong, independent woman who may or may not have been sexually assaulted by Jack Bauer in Rome.  She meets Milo in the most romantic way. One of her horses falls and breaks its leg, so Milo snaps its neck with one hand.  Needless to say no woman can resist, as the film puts it, “those muscles.”  To be fair the two of them have just enough scenes and chemistry for the romance to be not totally unbelievable, just wholly forgettable.  She’s also engaged to Sutherland, who is just strange in this film.  He’s basically a weird mix of Gastone and Jafar, but without any of the subtlety.  It’s almost campy, but I’m not certain what he was going for, outside of “mustache-twirling Saturday morning cartoon villain.”

Enough of the main cast though, let’s talk about the breakout role of the film.  Adewale Akkinnuoye-Agbaje (Mr. Eko from LOST) absolutely steals the show as Atticus, a gladiator who is only one day away from earning his freedom.  Unlike every other character, Atticus has complex thoughts and emotions.  He despises the Romans for killing his family and enslaving him, but he also desperately wants to believe that he’ll be able to turn his life around if he wins his freedom.  He and Milo have a very Bro relationship, and the man is just in general a badass.  In fact, if you were to edit out all of the other plots and focus on Atticus, you’d probably have a kickass short film.

“But what about the story?!” You cry. You and I know both know exactly how this story is going to end.  I even guessed the ending shot, perfectly.  Before I went into the theater, it’s that cliché.  It’s basically inoffensive and predictable before the eruption, where it becomes stupid.  There’s a scene where Atticus outruns a tidal wave!  Milo engages in a horse chase through the burning streets, outrunning the wall of lava, to chase Sutherland who thinks he can escape by chariot!  All of these things sound cool, but the really poor acting makes it all kind of funny.  Actually the entire last act is hilarious, because the effects are so nuts and the reaction so silly it’s almost like watching a train wreck.  You can’t stand it but you can’t turn away. Pompeii, what did you really expect?