A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
The erupting Mount Vesuvius up against Kit Harington; or as it appears for you “Game of Thrones” fans, Fire vs Snow.
The emerging trend to recreate historical disasters in spectacular, Hollywood-ised, melodramatic fashion seems to have continued on into the new year with “Pompeii”, a disaster epic focusing on one of Italy’s greatest natural tragedies.
Beginning in a Celtic region of Britannia, “Pompeii” offers a tragic backstory for the film’s ‘hero’ Milo, a slave, played by ‘dreamboat’ Kit Harington. Aggressive, fiery and unpredictable, Milo’s behaviour is more or less a humanised embodiment of the ominous Mt. Vesuvius itself at times.
The exploration and development of Milo, a completely fictional character seems necessary for two primary reasons; providing eye candy to entice fans (“300”-style abdominals just to start), and to occupy enough time to make a feature length film out of a singular disaster. Whilst watching “Pompeii” it’s difficult not to see similarities in narrative structure to “Titanic”.
Having an underlying subplot filled with romance, contrast and higher powers seems all too familiar and as a result, becomes incredibly predictable. Similarly to “Titanic”, we see Milo, a slave worker fall in love with Cassia (Emily Browning), the beautiful daughter of the king.
The premise of the film is known to the audience; they understand that disaster is the dazzling end game in the film, and the subplot appears to simply pass time along. The subplots are necessary for a film such as this, particularly for charter development and plot progression.
Without understanding certain inhabitants of the soon to be affected land, there would be no emotional connection to the film at all, it may as well be a documentary. Furthermore, this character establishment creates a completely new emotional reaction when it comes to the inevitable disastrous climax.
It leads to a tricky debate regarding the purpose of a film such as “Pompeii” in the first place. If there was no fictional, sappy subplot, there wouldn’t be enough content for a feature film.
But if the intention is to make a factually based re-imagination of a tragic moment in history, why not just make a documentary? It seems as though director Paul W.S. Anderson intended to make the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius the subplot in comparison to the love story and thus create a dramatic, emotional tale that was merely set in Pompeii.
The tagline could have read “star-crossed lovers, intERUPTED by mother nature”, or something along those lines…
Having recently watched “The Legend of Hercules”, the worst film of 2014 thus far, “Pompeii”, by comparison, was excellent. When viewing it with an unbiased attitude however, the bad unfortunately outweighs the good.
Like “Hercules”, “Pompeii” was subject to some awful green screen effects at certain points, mixed with sporadic examples of lazy, abrupt and unpolished editing techniques.
The acting was tolerable, plus some action sequences were quite well handled. Kiefer Sutherland however proved to be one of the most disappointing elements of “Pompeii” and for one standalone reason; his appearance.
There was obviously no cosmetic work applied to make Sutherland look any different to his most prestigious and well known character of “24’s” Jack Bauer; it literally looked like Bauer had draped himself in cloth in every one of his scenes.
Not only is this lazy, but it is incredibly distracting and generates severe detachment to the character.
Ultimately “Pompeii” proved itself to not be as pathetic as the reviews made it out to be. There doesn’t appear to be much purpose for the film, but when all is said and done, “Pompeii” was a pretty enjoyable and exciting thrill ride.
Highly predictable and disgustingly cliche at many points, “Pompeii” definitely had it’s letdowns, but they were expected. Going in with low expectations will ultimately prove beneficial to the viewing experience as a whole, as “Pompeii” doesn’t completely crash and burn as a film.
Nothing special, nothing horrendous, “Pompeii” is exactly what it is…nothing much else.