POMPEII (PG-13)

Pompeii (PG-13)

 

Movie Info

Cast: Kit Harington, Emily Browning, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kiefer Sutherland, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jared Harris.

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson.

Screenwriters: Janet Scott Batchler, Lee Batchler, Michael Robert Johnson.

Producers: Paul W.S. Anderson, Jeremy Bolt, Don Carmody.

A TriStar Pictures release. Running time: 105 minutes. Vulgar language, violence, depictions of mass destruction. Playing at: area theaters.


rrodriguez@MiamiHerald.com

Pompeii is half sword-and-sandal epic, half disaster movie and all guilty pleasure. Director Paul W.S. Anderson, taking a break from cranking out Resident Evil movies, has a strong command of CGI technology and 3D effects, and the movie is so grand in scale that you can’t help surrender to the spectacle, even if the stuff that’s going on with the people in the film is often close to risible.

In his first starring role since becoming famous as Jon Snow on Game of Thrones, Kit Harington proves he’s much better as an ensemble player than as a leading man. As Milo, a slave-turned-gladiator who saw his family butchered before his eyes when he was young, Harrington is supposed to brood and smolder and emanate inner turmoil, but he comes across as a really quiet dude who’s good with a sword. The first half of the movie is strongly reminiscent of Russell Crowe’s Gladiator, as Milo and fellow slave-fighter Atticus (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) grow from mortal enemies into unlikely allies, plotting to take down the sneering Roman senator Corvus (Kiefer Sutherland, in a so-bad-it’s-good performance). Milo also makes cow eyes from the arena floor at the beautiful Cassia (Emily Browning), who shares his attraction but has already been promised by her parents to marry Corvus.

Pompeii delves just enough into history to give you a sense of how politics worked in the era (Jared Harris plays a Pompeii entrepeneur who has great plans for the city), and the battle scenes are well-staged and exciting, if noticeably bloodless (that PG-13 rating must be observed). Then that pesky Mount Vesuvius starts belching, a tsunami plows into the region and an earthquake splits the ground, all at the same time (talk about worst day ever).

From here, Pompeii becomes a Roland Emmerich picture, perhaps a little more refined in sensibility and ambition but still silly enough to have characters running toward flowing lava. The dialogue is often pleasantly leaden (“I’ve never seen you look at any man the way you looked at that slave!” one of Cassia’s friends says as she ogles the buff Milo), but the sound effects are way cool, and the 3D is spectacular, with glowing ashes that seem to float off the screen and onto your lap. Pompeii is nowhere near good, but it’s quick and to the point and, although obviously aimed at teens, just fun enough to keep grown-ups entertained, if not always in the ways the filmmakers intended.

Read more Reeling with Rene Rodriguez stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
 <span class="cutline_leadin">‘Life Itself’:</span> Gene Siskel, left, and Roger Ebert get into one of their countless arguments during the taping of their TV show.

    Life Itself (R)

    There are scholars who blame Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel for dumbing down film criticism with their thumbs-up, thumbs-down approach, the same way they blame Steven Spielberg and George Lucas for ruining movies with the success of Jaws and Star Wars. But Siskel and Ebert accomplished just the opposite: They popularized criticism and introduced it to the masses via their PBS show in which they spent a lot of time debating (and fighting) over movies before delivering their final, yes-or-no verdict. The first version of their show, which was titled Sneak Previews and aired on PBS in the late 1970s, led me to read Pauline Kael and Film Comment and American Film and the Miami Herald’s late, great Bill Cosford as a kid. Suddenly, my nascent love of movies blew up: Movies weren’t just something you watched for entertainment. Sometimes, there was a lot to find beneath their surface.

  •  
Caesar (Andy Serkis) leads a war against mankind in “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”

    Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (PG-13)

    Yawn of the Planet of the Apes — excuse me, Dawn — has a big-budget sheen, a few terrific action setpieces and some of the most jaw-dropping CGI effects to date: You will believe these apes are real (although some of them are actors wearing costumes).

  •  
Chris Evans (center) and Jamie Bell (left) are about to crack some skulls aboard a speeding bullet train in “Snowpiercer.”

    Snowpiercer (R)

    In the near future, mankind attempts to solve the growing problem of global warming by shooting a missile into space that will lower the planet’s thermostat. Instead, the device plunges Earth into another ice age, killing all life except for the people on a huge bullet train that has been circling the globe for 17 years (don’t ask, just go with it).

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category