The Movie: 6/10
I like spectacles. I enjoy “historic” fiction. Volcanoes are fascinating. Kit Harrington is a bit annoying. That might be all I have to say on the subject of Pompeii, then again I should have a bit more to add for the sake of a whole review. Where to begin…. The idea of a movie about what has always been one of those mysterious real life events is awesome. I have always looked at the remains of Pompeii in pictures and wondered what it must have really been like. OK, so watching a movie isn’t the best way to figure that out, but these days with special effects what they are, and my movie loving mind I figured there was a good chance. Unfortunately, what I have always wanted didn’t really come through in this telling of the story. Oh, the story, right, it’s not about the REAL people who lived there and died there, well, maybe a few of them. Most of the characters are fictional, along with a made up love story, of course.
A hunky slave gladiator meets beautiful daughter of a rich business man, eyes lock, hearts pound, volcanoes erupt. That kind of sums it up, with a few more details thrown in for dramatic effect. There is a very bad man who wants the beauty to himself, and some gladiators who want to kill our leading man, so there’s that. Gladiators, hmmm, I wonder if we will ever really get a sense of the truth about that whole industry. Pompeii makes it way way way to Hollywoody, for sure!! The greased up bodies, the flimsy outfits, it’s like they just came from a costume and make up trailer, oh they were. I know I know, we need men to be greasy and buff for the idiots in the audience to stay interested, and we need the beauties to have super pouty lips and glide friendly drapery on their bodies to keep the other idiots staring at the screen. Whatever. No, not whatever, you see, I wanted to see a movie about Pompeii and what I got was Titanic with lava.
I wasn’t disappointed really, I had no expectations of the quality, which was fine by the way. It’s got some pretty good special effects, some not so great. The explosions are fantastic, but the ash falling and the overall visual description of how the city was being buried in a matter of hours, well, that was very sound stage looking.
The people are all OK, but the leads didn’t do much for me. I much prefer Trinity and the dude from Mad Men as the best part of the cast for sure. They were the beauties parents, and I was convinced she loved that guy fully and he was a bit of a weasel, so they did a fine job. Kit Harrington and Emily Browning are medium for me. I liked her better for some obvious reasons. She had more dialog and did a better job. Keifer Sutherland playing a jerk, not a big stretch with that menacing voice and jerky face.
Overall I did just let my brain let go of the “I want to see a documentary about the real Pompeii” and enjoyed it for what it was, a spectacle. As I said in the beginning, I like a spectacle. If you like sweaty abs and boring “good guy loves lady, bad guy wants to own her, they fight, they face danger…etc.” scenario with the promise of a very large explosion along the way, go for it.
- Filmmaker Commentary – Paul WS Anderson and Producer Jeremy Bolt take you through the making of the movie. The actual featurettes do not really discuss the real life events of Pompeii but if that is what interests you this commentary will deliver.
- The Assembly – A seven minute look at how the cast came together.
- The Volcanic Eruption – A short look at the CG Visual effects that bring the movie to life.
- 20 Deleted Scenes – 23 Minutes of deleted scenes that to be honest do not add much to the final movie. It’s quite obvious why these scenes were cut but for completionists here they are.
- The Gladiators – A look at the how the Gladiator battles in the movie were created. Also a look at the costumes and Kit Harrington looking all moody.
- The Journey – A featurette mainly focused on the set creation and decoration. The movie has a lot of practical sets and some are built on a massive scale.
- The Costume Shop – Costumer Wendy Partridge takes you on a tour of the costume shop.
- Pompeii: Buried In Time – Probably the best featurette on the disc, this 24 minute piece compiles a lot of the shorter features into a longer narrative. I would suggest you watch this first or you will end up suffering a serious case of DejaVu.
- 3D & 2D Versions Of The Movie & UV Digital Copy
Cover Art and Menus: 3/10
I would not have this boring cover as a poster, nope. The menu is a static boring image, right with the times here in the 21st century.
Audio & Video: 9/10
Sony include the 3D and 2D versions of the movie on separate discs and both are absolutely incredible to look at. The 1080P AVC encode is one of the finest I have seen in some time. The movie has a lot of scenes that take place at night and the excellent black levels really help the detail come across even in low light. If I had to nitpick the movie was shot on Red camera’s and there is noise in some of the lower light shots. This is not a fault of the transfer though so I hesitate to dock points for it.
If you were looking for an immersive, engaging, loud and entertaining soundtrack you came to the right place. Pompeii on Blu-Ray uses a DTS-HD Master Audio track that represents everything good in a modern day CGI laden Disaster movie. Surround sound action is constant and enveloping and LFE during the eruption scenes really shakes the listening area. This is a showpiece 3D presentation for your home theatre, even if you are not a fan of Paul WS Andersons work so long as you leave your brain at the door you will be entertained.
Overall Score 6/10