“Pompeii,” the 2014 epic disaster movie from director Paul W.S. Anderson, promises to provide a terrific experience for the audience. Combining elements from “Gladiator” and “Titanic,” it is the perfect choice for both action and romance fans.
“Pompeii” is a small personal story set against the most epic background possible. The story of Milo the gladiator is one that is intense and heartfelt – the story of a man who was unjustly enslaved and sees no hope, but who finds a reason to fight for his future once he falls in love. However, the woman he loves is absolutely forbidden to him. Not only that, but he has chosen to let his heart care once again on the worst possible day: the day Mt. Vesuvius is going to erupt and destroy his city.
The wider story of the eruption of the volcano lifts Milo’s personal story to epic heights and allows audiences to experience something they will hopefully never meet in real life. The effects are not only breathtaking, but they are also historically accurate. The movie lets the audience watch in glorious 3-D as the volcano erupts, sending miles of ash and smoke up into the sky and lobbing giant flaming boulders over the city. Following the historical record of what actually happened during the eruption over Pompeii, the movie also displays the dangerous tsunami that was triggered by the seismic activity and destroyed the entire harbor. Finally, when the volcano collapses upon itself, the audience gets to experience the frightening pyroclastic flow that destroyed Pompeii. The film accurately depicts the monster of smoke rushing through the city at high speeds and blasting everything in its sight at degrees beyond 1,000 F.
Just watching a volcano erupt, however, isn’t enough to justify two hours in a movie theater. Fortunately for the audiences of “Pompeii,” the movie has a thrilling love story between the character of Milo, played with intensity and sizzle by Kit Harington of “Game of Thrones” and his forbidden love Cassia, played by Emily Browning. Their onscreen chemistry is worth the price of admission. Their love, however, is not allowed in the social structure of ancient Rome. Cassia is the daughter of a wealthy merchant who is one of the movers and shakers of Pompeii, while Milo, in contrast, is a gladiator. While gladiators were highly esteemed by their fans, they were nevertheless slaves, which meant that a couple like Milo and Cassia simply was not allowed.
To make matters worse, a corrupt Roman senator has decided he wants to marry Cassia. The senator, played by Kiefer Sutherland, best known in the television series “24,” is not going to stand for any slave getting in the way of what he wants, so he becomes Milo’s enemy. The interaction among Milo, Cassia and the Senator, is juicy and fun to watch. Sutherland truly plays the kind of villain that an audience loves to hate.
While there is plenty of action on screen thanks to the volcano and the ensuing disaster throughout the city, audiences get another dose of onscreen excitement thanks to the gladiatorial combats portrayed in the movie. In the arena, Milo is pitted against a stunningly strong and threatening gladiator, Atticus, played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. Akinnuoye-Agbaje, best known as Mr. Eko on “Lost,” gives one of the strongest performances in the film. When he’s on screen, it’s hard to take your eyes off him. His final moments on screen are among the movie’s best, emotionally gripping and satisfying at the same time.
Anchoring the movie is Kit Harington’s performance as Milo. Harington is best known as Jon Snow in “Game of Thrones,” and his many fans are likely to be thrilled with what they see from him in “Pompeii.” His passionate, though brief, love with Cassia is fiery and deeply moving, and his action scenes as a gladiator are heart-stopping and exciting.
As the audience leaves “Pompeii,” they are likely to feel they have definitely gotten their money’s worth. Not only did they share a tremendous love story, but they got to sit at the edge of their seats as they experienced one of the world’s most famous disasters. From the corruption of the city’s politics to the tension of gladiators in the arena; from the absolutely breathtaking visuals and excitement of the disaster to the honest and heartfelt romance between Milo and Cassia; “Pompeii” is a movie that has something for everyone in the audience. Not to be missed for its incredible effects and beautifully written story, “Pompeii” promises to give the audience an experience to remember.