“This isn’t a sport, my lady. This is politics.”
If you had told me before the year started that I’d like Pompeii more than Jack Ryan and The Monuments Men, I would have laughed in your face. But, I’m being serious when I say that this disaster epic is actually entertaining and brutal, but starts having an identity crisis once it hits the third act.
The ads have shown only the destruction-portion of the film, but that’s only the last third of the film. The first two-thrids are focused on Gladiator-esque battles in the arena. Actually, that portion of the film almost rips-off Gladiator, but for some reason, I wasn’t bothered by it. Not only that, but I surprisingly enjoyed the battles more than I did the destruction at the end.
Speaking of the destruction, it’s where the film ironically falls apart. The tone changes from a dark, sword and sandals flick into a cheesy destruction movie akin to those from Roland Emmerich. While it didn’t ruin the film for me, the emotional stakes were lowered and it started heading towards self-parody. The final shot almost ruined the film’s dark, grim tone completely.
Is Pompeii high art? Absolutely not. But, was it meant to be? Definitely not. Unlike most Paul W.S. Anderson films, I actually had fun with this one and it was decently dark and brooding at first, something I wasn’t expecting. I feel as if Paul W.S. Anderson actually tried to make this good, and you can see that early on, it’s just the end of the film collapses under its own weight and stutters to the finish line. But, like I said, I enjoyed it a lot. It was fun, simple as that. Besides, who doesn’t love hearing Kiefer Sutherland call someone a dirty bitch with his ridiculous accent?
“Did you hear that?”
3.5 out of 5