Thursday, March 20, 2014

Pompeii (2014)(Minor Spoilers Review)

**This review contains MINOR spoilers. No major character deaths or reveals.**

During a vicious raid from a group of Roman horsemen, a young Milo (Dylan Schombing) witnesses the systematic execution of his entire tribe. Corvus (Kiefer Sutherland) leads the slaughter, and Corvus murders Milo’s mother in front of him. For his last chance at survival, Milo makes a quick decision to play possum on top of a pile of corpses to escape as the sole survivor. One day, Milo stops for a quick nap in the woods, but a group of slave traders capture him.

As an adult, Milo (Kit Harington) fights as a skilled and deadly gladiator. After an impressive fight, Milo’s slave master, Graecus (Joe Pingue) and his trainer, Bellator (Currie Graham) plan a high profiled one on one fight to the death with Atticus (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), a praised and merciless gladiator, filling the role of Milo’s opponent. With a victory and Milo’s death, Atticus earns his freedom from a promised deal, and the fight is scheduled for a great spectacle in Pompeii‘s gladiator arena.

Meanwhile, Cassia (Emily Browning) returns to Pompeii after a year long trip to Rome. Cassia receives a warm welcome from her father, Severus (Jared Harris), the ruler of Pompeii, her mother, Aurelia (Carrie-Anne Moss), and her servant, Ariadne (Jessica Lucas). But Cassia walks into an unpleasant surprise, when a demanding Corvus, and his top officer, Proculus (Sasha Rioz) visit Pompeii to discuss a lucrative deal and an endorsement from Rome with Severus.

Corvus is obsessed with Cassia and a tainted marriage proposal, and he won’t take no for answer. But a benevolent Milo catches Cassia’s attention after Milo’s tough choice for an injured horse’s mercy killing. Cassia will risk everything to save Milo from Corvus’ wrath, and Milo tries to fight his urges for a forbidden relationship with Cassia. Milo waits for his shot at vengeance for the deaths of his people and his mother, but a rumbling Mount Vesuvius’ catastrophic eruption threatens Pompeii’s existence……….

Familiar Clich├ęs for Pompeii? Yep. You’ll see plenty of them. Cassia is the innocent and caring crown jewel, who falls in love with the savage brute (Milo). Everyone else? They see a ruffian with a bad temper, but Cassia notices Milo’s softer side and his kind heart. Corvus is the nasty and corrupt scoundrel, and he could care less about Cassia’s feelings, because he’s not looking for love, or a willing marriage. He wants to possess Cassia. And during a risky horse ride, Milo gives Cassia his “I love you, but we can’t be together” speech, because you know, royalty and commoners don’t mix.

Pompeii is a greedy film. They want it all. An epic historical disaster film, the fairy tale-esque love story between a peasant and the princess, the story of a slave, who fights the odds to overcome a series of obstacles from his captors and oppressors, and an action film loaded with stylish fight scenes.

Still, I enjoyed Pompeii as a guilty pleasure. Pompeii falls short for the intended goal: A grandiose and memorable spectacle of action, devastation, and tragedy. But Pompeii offers a handful of redeeming qualities, IF you’re willing to overlook the misfires for a great film. Harington needs a lot of help to carry the load as the leading man. Browning and Akinnuoye-Agbaje pick up the slack with two solid performances, Jared Harris lends a helping hand, and Sutherland is a genuinely despicable villain.

Pompeii delivers consistent action, with a plethora of hard hitting battle scenes, and Pompeii’s post-eruption finale is a whirlwind of non-stop thrills. And I’ll give this one a bonus point for some eye-popping 3D effects. Also, I’m not a big fan of Paul W.S. Anderson ‘s work, and Pompeii is not a resurrection film for his career, because the facts are simple: Pompeii’s box office fun is/was a big disappointment, and the vast majority of critics trashed Pompeii with no mercy. But it’s a refreshing change to see an Anderson film without “Resident Evil” in the title.

Rating: 6/10

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