The film about the devastating volcano Vesuvius could be so much better than it was. If the story was more deepened and the characters less superficial. The end of the film should be no surprise for those who know their history but before the actual disaster the film is a poor mix of Gladiator and Titanic: Slaves turning into gladiators, gladiators fighting in combat, a doomed love affair between a slave and a wealthy girl and of course the upcoming disaster.
After a first glimpse of Pompeii after the volcano erupted – which was very impressive by the way – we see the young version of Milo (Kit Harington) and his Celtic people getting attacked by the evil Roman Senator Corvus (Kiefer Sutherland). The young Milo survives and becomes a fighting slave. Impressed by Milo’s fighting skills, two Roman men take him to Pompeii to fight there. During his trip to Pompeii Milo meets the beautiful Cassia (Emily Browning), the daughter of the richest family of Pompeii.As a sort of pitch for the Roman senator Corvus to invest in Pompeii, Severus (Jared Harris) organises a festival where Milo and his newfound friend Atticus (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) need to fight in the Arena. Atticus is a champion gladiator with just one victory away from freedom. The night before their big fight in the Arena, Milo and Cassia meet again which causes some troubles for Milo. In the meantime Corvus uses his position to find his way back into Cassia’s life after they shared some sort of history back in Rome (which is never really explained). The big fight in the Arena is really something interesting. To please Senator Corvus the gladiators need to give a ‘demonstration’ of an actual battle, one Mile knows only too well. The battle between the Roman and the Celtic people, Milo’s family. But because Milo, Atticus and the others work so well together they win the battle. This scene really made me think of Gladiator. In this film there was also a scene were Russel Crow and his mates won a battle in the Arena where they should actually have lost according to history. After it is decided that Milo and his crew may live, Milo needs to fight in a single combat against the Roman champion: Proculus (Sasha Roiz). During their battle the Vesuvius starts erupting.
The volcano eruption is really impressive. Fire, ashes, a tsunami and a lot of collapses. Milo tries to save Cassia and Atticus gets his fight to earn his freedom. The end is no surprise, but the actual end of the film could also have been so much better and dramatic when the acting was outstanding. Like I mentioned before the characters are a bit superficial. You know nothing really about the so-called ‘doomed lovers’, or any other character for that mather, which could give them any sympathy. You never see any sparks between Milo and Cassia and there was no build-up to their love. It was anything but a love affair to me. I actually can’t remember if they did introduce themselves to each other. What really bugged me was the bad British accent of some. But the score made by Clinton Shorter was really beautiful, just like Kit’s abs. Can’t deny that 😉
So, this film actually had a lot of good ingredients to make it an amazing disaster film including a doomed love affair. Too bad it wasn’t, I really had high hopes for this one.