Story: 4.5/5 The story is about the central character, a gladiator, whose presence in Pompeii coincided with when Mt Vesuvius erupted in 79AD. Some of the scenes are brutal, but given the time in history, I found the violence to be integral rather than gratuitous; perhaps even tamer than I can imagine such a life might have been.
Yes, there is a romance element. Ordinarily, I’m a bit put off by romance in disaster movies/stories, because I think it’s a lazier way to explore the ‘making of a hero’; of showing he has heart, honor and something to lose. However, the romance sub-plot is just about everywhere, so I can’t pick on this particular story. In any case, in this instance it worked for me. Who’d have thought?
Direction: 4.5/5 Apart from a couple of minor casting problems (which this director may not have been able to control) and personal preference to see more volcano-related detail, I can’t really pick fault. There’s a lot to look at.
Acting: 3.5/5 As is often the case in this genre, there was a mix of acting ability among the cast. I quite liked watching Kit Harington, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Emily Browning and Jessica Lucas – but Kiefer Sutherland did not portray enough power to pull off such a pivotal role. For me, he nailed nastiness, but not with the sort of potent strength needed as the foundation to tie the hero’s story with the local political environment.
Sets/Locations: 5/5 What can I say. Computer generated and real – it was beautiful.
Special Effects: 4.5/5 Some aspects of the volcano were riveting, such as when the ground fell away into the river before the eruption. I’m not a volcano expert, but other aspects seemed a bit more about spectacle than realism. Still visual glue though.
So overall, I rated this movie 32 / 35 = 91%. I’m surprised that it scored that highly, but I must admit that I’d watch it again.
PS: Scenes from this movie appear in a YouTube video, titled ‘The Real Pompeii (Full Documentary)’: