Pompeii – 2014
Director Paul W.S. Anderson
Starring Kit Harington, Emily Browning, Carrie-Anne Moss, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jessica Lucas, Jared Harris, Kiefer Sutherland
Screenplay Janet Scott Batchler, Lee Batchler, Michael Robert Johnson
Many fault Paul W.S. Anderson for bringing the inspired collaboration of Alien vs. Predator to an almost screeching halt. It’s true that the 2004 film performed well below expectations, it really wasn’t nearly as bad as Requiem, which completely buried the series. Anderson has really made a lot of crap films (Resident Evil 1-infinity, Mortal Kombat, Event Horizon), some average garbage (Soldier and the Death Race remake) and one decent film (Three Musketeers), but each of the films somehow make money. In this respect, Pompeii is a landmark. It is a horrible film, but one that did not greatly exceed the amount of money spent on it. The film almost made $100 million, but 3/4 of that gross was overseas. This is never a good sign for the studio.
Most amazing, they spent $80 million to get the film made, but it looks like no more than $1000 bucks of it made it to the screen. The effects evoke thoughts of Sharknado, while the acting can’t even reach that level. The film is so bad, it’s almost impossible to stop watching. Anderson seems to have lost film making skill as time marches forward.
The best of the worst in Pompeii is with the series of explosions that precede the big one. I can buy earthquakes preceding a volcano. When half of the mountain is already dislodged, then how can we expect one final explosion to occur just to match the crescendo of the action between characters?
Emily Browning is a strange choice for a damsel in distress. Her looks would not inspire most men to cross the street, especially if they had seen her in Sucker Punch or The Host. Kit Harrington, whose hangdog look works well for Game of Thrones, comes across even more like a woe-begotten canine here. Poor Ecko, from Lost. I really thought we’d found something when he was on that show. Then he got taken out like a chump there and he’s been taken out like a chump in everything he’s been in since. And Kiefer. Poor Kiefer. No wonder he went back to 24.
This film will be forgotten faster than someone who asks for directions at a gas station, and it should be. It’s the kind of film that will be used as an example in future reviews of Anderson movies. Let’s hope they are not many.
(1/2* out of *****)