BY ASHLEY KOWALEWSKI
Starting this post, I’m going to assume you know a bit about Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius (after having dinner with friends the other night, I came to the realization that this is apparently not common knowledge–much to the chagrin of this former history student), because, frankly, unless you’re a fan of history (Roman/Pompeiian/volcanic or otherwise), I can’t imagine you would go see this flick–other than, of course for Kit Harrington (I had to make a conscious effort not to yell out “JON SNOW” every time he came on-screen). Also, I want to be able to skip the whole history lesson that I had to give already over the weekend on why this detrimental event was so important to history and how it is preserved. If you know about it, you get it. (If not, just read on to see how many times I can say JON SNOW.)
The flick opens with a bit of back story on Harrington’s character–his family and people, Celtic horsemen, were brutally murdered right in front of him as a child by Senator Corvus (Kiefer Sutherland). When he grows up a slave that is forced to fight, another politician (still not sure who this guy is relative to the rest of the characters in the movie) discovers him and brings him to fight in Pompeii in front of a noble family and Corvus who has come to “invest” in the city. Cassia, the daughter of this nobility had previously been in Rome and had tried to avoid Corvus’ creepy advances, but when he follows her to her hometown, she realizes that he’s interested in more than rebuilding Pompeii, but also discovers that she has a thing for JON SNOW (don’t we all?). The love interest is short and there’s not a lot to it, but, alas, we get to see JON SNOW with his shirt off for a few minutes, so #littlewins.
It honestly felt like I was watching a weak remake of Gladiator. Okay, sure it was his parents that were murdered and not his wife and child, but the whole premise of this strong silent man out for blood from the person who killed his family and then he’s expected to fight as a gladiator in front of some politicians who enjoy bloodsport has kind of been done. I mean, haven’t we seen this all before?
Apart from the volcano stuff, which really only occupied the last third of the movie, it was lacklustre acting on everyone’s part except Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and JON SNOW (the latter plays brooding all too well in my opinion). Even Sutherland was unimpressive and he’s been a favourite villain of mine since Phone Booth.
When the volcano finally erupted, the ending seemed a little rushed. And I get that when Vesuvius erupted in real life, it did petrify everything very fast–which is why people couldn’t flee–but cinematically they could have dragged it a bit and added a bit more oomph to the love story they had us invested in for an hour and 45 minutes. Visually, it was impressive, so if you’re going to go, just know you’re going for the eye candy of JON SNOW and a volcano.
All in all, it was just okay. The redeeming quality for me was that when they tried starting the movie three times, we got free movie passes, which made up for the fact that this was another unnecessarily 3D’d movie.