Friday, 26 September 2014



Well, it's not the worst thing Paul WS Anderson, aka The One Who Isn't Paul Thomas Anderson, has made (that would be Mortal Kombat, of course), but it's still a long way off his best work. It's no Event Horizon, it's certainly no Death Race, and it's not even up there with his instalments of the increasingly deranged Resident Evil series. In the silliness stakes we're more in the ballpark of The Three Musketeers: a handsomely enough done historical, but nothing more than a breathtakingly silly romp. This is piffle, tosh and tommyrot on a colossal scale that follows the dreaded template of Titanic and Pearl Harbour: an opening stretch of blubbery schoolgirl mush and boo-hiss villainy followed by an orgy of spectacular CGI carnage and destruction.

Pompeii starts somewhere in the wilds of Northern Britain, with evil boo-hiss Roman centurion Kiefer Sutherland wiping out the Celtic Horse Tribes because they're blocking his trade routes. The sole survivor grows up to be top fighter Kit Harington, known only as The Celt and possessed of a six-pack you could bounce a grapefruit off. En route from Rome to Pompeii, his horse whispering skills and rippling muscles catch the eye of landed gentry Emily Browning, but he's condemned to gladiatorial combat in the Arena, and she has already snared the unwelcome attentions of Kiefer Sutherland, now an evil boo-hiss Roman senator who may invest in Pompeii's civic refurbishments - at a price. And occasionally, Vesuvius has a bit of a rumble.

It's almost exactly an hour before she finally blows, and we get the earth tremors, the flaming boulders, the burning rocks, the tidal waves, the clouds of ash and so on that we've been hoping would turn up and stop the Mills And Boon blither, and that's the point when it kicks in to life and we get half an hour or so of burning death and pyroclastic mayhem (perfectly acceptable in 2D, and it doesn't look like 3D would have added significantly). Terrible dialogue in English accents, Sutherland clearly having fun as a monumental bastard in a toga, plenty of demented slaughter in the Arena: it's too much I'm Spartacus and not enough I'm On Fire. It's a stupid film and it's not a very good one, but it is kind of fun.



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