Pompeii | Film review – Anderson’s sword-and-sandal disaster movie spews a lava stream of cheesy clichés

Pompeii - Emily Browning, Kit Harington

Paul WS Anderson, maker of the Resident Evil sci-fi action series, kits out the disaster movie genre in swords and sandals with this apocalyptically silly adventure set against the destruction of Pompeii in AD 79.

While Mount Vesuvius rumbles menacingly in the background, brooding Celtic slave turned gladiator Milo (Game of Thrones’ Kit Harington) clashes inside the arena with towering fellow fighter Atticus (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and outside it with snarling senator Corvus (Kiefer Sutherland).

And, in a nod to Titanic, he even finds love across the class divide with the aristocratic Cassia (Emily Browning).  But nothing can stop Vesuvius from blowing its top…

Anderson goes to town with his recreation of Pompeii, apparently accurate down to the cobblestones in the streets, and he handles the eruption itself with vaunted scientific verisimilitude – and then he unleashes a tsunami of dramatic clichés and a lava stream of cheesy dialogue that lay waste to everything in their paths.

Most unforgivably of all, he turns the sublime pathos of the body casts of the disaster’s victims (seen at the recent British Museum exhibition Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum) into a moment of pure kitsch.


Certificate 12A. Runtime 104 mins. Director Paul WS Anderson.


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