Why Pompeii is Not Very Awesome

“A visually pleasing popcorn flick that sounds good on paper but not in reality”


The tragic tale of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii in AD 79 is one we learn of in our early years of school, and is one that few do not know about. In theory, combining this major historical event with modern day special effects and a great cast - including Keifer Sutherland, Jared Harris and everyones favourite bastard from the north, Kit Harrington - you would think that this film would be one to remember. Sadly, this is not the case. 

Pompeii tells the story of Milo (Kit Harrington), an orphaned celtic horseman whose entire tribe is wiped out by the Romans, lead by Corvus (Keifer Sutherland), who personally kills Milo’s mother and orders the slaughter of all the prisoners taken during the battle. Milo is the only survivor, and is taken into slavery. 17 years later we join our hero - now a gladiator known as The Celt - in the capital of Britannia, Londinium, where we get a look at Kit Harrington’s well toned abs; a sight seldom seen in Game of Thrones due to his massively unflattering Nights Watch leathers. Due to his exceptional fighting skills, Milo is taken from Britannia and moved to Pompeii, where he can entertain the great colosseums and Roman nobility. En route, he meets Cassia (Emily Browning), also in transit to Pompeii, and it’s nothing less than love at first sight when Jon Sno… I mean, Milo, comes to the aid of one of her carriages injured horses.

Can you show me that thing you do with your tongue?”

Cassia’s father, Severus (Jared Harris) is planning to host Corvus, now a Senator, sent from the Emperor to hear his plans to improve the city of Pompeii. Milo’s skills are quickly identified and he is set to fight the current arena champion, Atticus, who is one fight away from earning his freedom in single combat at a spectacular event staged in honour of Corvus’ visit. The fight never takes place as Corvus sees to it that Milo, Atticus and a select group of slaves take on a force that vastly outnumbers them, in an homage to his great victory of the Celtic tribes; Milo and Atticus’ bromance blossoms during it. From here, the plot gets slightly derailed by a minorly inconvenient volcanic eruption. Mass panic ensues and everybody dies. Sorry, should've said spoilers, my bad.

Bring it in, Bro!”

The previous paragraph is a very generous description of the films plot; it’s pretty obvious what's going to happen in a film called Pompeii, and so - in the nicest possible way - it is basically an hours worth of filler before the special effects team get to work their magic on destroying everything. The special effects are, by far, the greatest part of the film; the glorious visuals of Vesuvius’ eruption are outstanding, and also make great use of 3D cinema, with fireballs and debris flying at you from all angles! The cast is, sadly, far more impressive on paper than in the film itself - you would expect a great showcase of acting talent, but it's poorly utilised and at times very lackluster. Keifer Sutherland perfectly portrays a corrupt perverted Roman Senator, but his entire performance is ruined by a very strange, over the top, posh accent, that leaves you thinking “Who actually talks like that?” throughout his large amount of screen time.

Play it cool Keifer, 24’s back soon!”

Kit Harrington got top billing for this film and kudos to him for that, but he sadly didn’t shine as well as Game of Thrones fans would’ve hoped. His very dull character has all the charisma of a dead badger, and is only enjoyable when teamed with Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje's Atticus, and this only takes up a very small amount of screentime. I thank the gods that Jon Snow hasn’t kicked the bucket yet in GoT, otherwise this would seriously dampen my opinion of him. The love story between Milo and Emily Brownings Cassia is a very forced side-plot at best, and seems to come from nothing when the volcano erupts and they decide that it would be a good time to make out instead of running in absolute terror. A dishonourable mention should go out to the terrible use of Jared Harris in this film: he was so underused that when I read his name in the cast list I actually questioned it. The fight sequences are beautifully choreographed, in abundance, and even occur at times when they are incredibly unnecessary, like, say, when the the city is being destroyed by a volcanic eruption. I mean, if there is ever a time to bury the hatchet, I would say that a volcanic eruption would be it. Without claiming to be an expert on volcanoes, I would say that the events of the eruption were extremely convenient to the plot, in that fireballs would hit some people and steer clear of the main cast so that they can continue their pointless endeavours.

Finally, I would say that Pompeii’s special effects are the only standout feature of this film, and it is let down by a pointless plot that clearly tries to imitate Gladiator (and does so very poorly), and is filled with thoroughly underwhelming performances from what is otherwise a great cast.

P.S. The final scene of this film is a massively unrealistic pile of s*** that angered me beyond belief. I’ll leave it at that and let you make your own decision about it.

Final Score: 3/10

This has been Deedsy for The Awesome Update, over and out.

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