Dear Mr. Anderson, while your Roger Corman impersonation worked a treat, your James Cameron leaves a lot to be desired.
Appropriately, the ambitious period-epic romance-volcano epic – from the makers of “Aliens vs. Predator” and “Mortal Kombat”, naturally – begins with a warning: Much unpleasantness is coming.
We open on ancient Rome – a place of majestic beauty, shrewd power-hungry mad-men, clipped chest-hair and ‘Mr Eko’ from “Lost”.
Jack, er, Milo (Kit Harrington) is a poor boy, forced into slavery, that has fallen for the rich, out-of-his-depth rich girl Rose, er, Columba (Emily Browning). Amidst the Gladiator fights he has been roped into, and the constant taunts she endures from a despicable Roman Senator- who we shall call ‘Billy Zane’ (Kiefer Sutherland- in a ‘WTF’ performance), they manage a way to be together. But then, of course, the nearby Volcano erupts!
Now on SyFy : Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. And Coming Up: Pompeii.
Like a hot chick walking about with a stain on the back of her 501s, “Pompeii”, with a filmmaker mostly known for his special-effects-driven beer n’ pizza fare, was always going to be prettier on the outside than it is on the inside. Most of Anderson’s films, including the recent remake of Corman classic “Death Race”, are just that, after all, and didn’t strive to be anything more than attractive, entertaining gunk; “Pompeii”, however, is the Anderson offspring that strives to be much more, and is willing to completely embarrass and undo any good in it, in an effort to attempt to be all it can be.
In this case, Anderson wants “Pompeii” to be “Titanic” – a film that showcases a much better script, far better dialogue, and a special effects budget (heck, budget!) that suggests the studio actually had confidence in the man helming it. But this fiery-version of the opposites-fall-in-love-just-before-they-face-great-danger stencil only shares one thing in common with the film it shamelessly rips-off – it sinks. Fast.
With what looks like a $25 special-effects budget (absolutely horrendous looking effects! I don’t think I even spotted lava once!), a cast of confused thesps who looked like they’ve been tricked into doing the movie (though silly Kiefer Sutherland for even thinking he’d be the right choice to play a ye’ old villain), and a script that was seemingly written on the back of a handful of cigarette ash, “Pompeii” struggles to not only hold attention, but convince Hollywood Paul W.S Anderson deserves a little more money to play with next time around.
Let’s admit it; no one was ever going to lava this one.
DVD : A commentary and two featurettes. Spare yourself.