Travelling back to a time way before our years is something that can only truly be achieved in cinema. We have this unique opportunity to explore a world before ours, and create immersive experiences for audiences to invest in. In regards to ancient history, there are few periods documented quite so substantially as Pompeii, as it was a time in history perfectly preserved following the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. However in spite of the cinematic potential that exists, Paul W.S. Anderson’s hackneyed production makes little use of the absorbing and devastating events that took place.
Instead, a mawkish romantic narrative takes precedence, and our lovers are Milo (Kit Harington) and Cassia (Emily Browning), the former a feared gladiator, and the latter a daughter of a wealthy merchant. When Cassia is betrothed to the vindictive Roman Senator Corvus (Kiefer Sutherland), Milo has a battle on his hands. And as the battles in the Amphitheatre intensify, the rivalries reach boiling point along with the nearby volcano…
Though the eruption initially seems to be rather impressive, with molten hot lava exploding onto the screen with dramatic effect and filling the cinema with a breathtaking orange glow, it’s all rather chaotic and the use of 3D is underwhelming to say the least. In the meantime, considering the romantic narrative is frustratingly the most domineering element of the film, it is severely cheapened and devalued given how little emotional impact comes with it. A similar movie to compare to in that regard is Titanic, and whether you like that movie or not, you can’t fault the impact of the leading love story.
The film is dragged down by its mawkish tendencies, as we deviate away from any of the more intriguing, captivating elements that come with this tale. An entire society was burnt to the ground and yet there’s no emotional involvement from the viewer. We haven’t got close enough or felt endeared with any character in particular, so when the inevitable happens, we simply aren’t fussed. Which, regrettably, is a sentiment that seems to be somewhat overpowering where this picture is concerned.