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Preview: Pompeii

No warning. No escape. Milo (Kit Harrington) is a slave turned invincible gladiator in the city of Pompeii AD79 where Mount Vesuvius has just erupted…


No warning. No escape.

Milo (Kit Harrington) is a slave turned invincible gladiator in the city of Pompeii AD79 where Mount Vesuvius has just erupted leaving chaos in its wake. He is in a race against time to save his beloved Cassia (Emily Browning), betrothed to Corvis (Kiefer Sutherland) a corrupt Roman Senator.

Here we have a film that is claiming to tick a whole host of genre boxes: action, adventure, drama, history and romance. There are few films that can balance so much well; naturally one aspect is likely to fall behind others. Most will at least make an adequate attempt, but here we have something that looks like a serious misstep. Its narrative as a whole seems an absolute mess from the trailer and the general description that has been given of the film. Just because it is based on a real event (we’ll come back to this), doesn’t mean that you have to give everything away. I feel like after watching the trailer I’ve seen everything the film has to offer. What must be its big set piece finale is the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and yet we’ve already seen its damage. It almost seems like there is such a flimsy story line that they will have 90 minutes of the 105 total being a huge explosion with Kit Harrington running around with his top off.

Now lets move on to the fact it’s branding itself as an historical film. Is it expecting us to learn something from it? The director Paul W. S Anderson seems to think so saying it will be different from 300 (2006) or Immortals (2011) because “they’re not real; they operate in a kind of comic book world.” I completely agree, although 300 (2006) does hold some marginal facts it cannot be seen as an historical film. Anderson seems to think that his will be more than just a “stylish” film, and I guess he’s hoping to offer something different. There is nothing particularly wrong with using a past event and shaping a film round it but there’s no point pretending that it’s not just a film. I can’t imagine many people watched Titanic (1997) and thought they came out well educated about the year 1912.

Other work by Anderson has prided itself on the tough female characters that the action is mainly centered around. From the description given it seems this has been lost in his latest offering, Emily Browning having seemingly little to do other than wait on Harrington to save her. Say what you want about the film Sucker Punch (2011) but at least it attempted to give the female characters something to do. Would much rather see a film led by Babydoll supported by Jon Snow and Jack Bauer than what seems to be offered here.

You have been warned. You can escape.

2nd of May.