(An edited version of this was first published in The New Indian Express)
What to say of a film whose director’s only asset is that his name could be mistaken for a portmanteau of two of the greatest directors of this generation? Paul Thomas Anderson and Wes Anderson in a lesser mind amalgamate to Paul W.S Anderson. His films have either been the wasteful Resident Evil spawns or the utterly ridiculous so called adaptation of The Three Musketeers. Since the release of that film Alexandre Dumas has been furiously rotating in his grave.
Pompeii hasn’t fallen too far away from the tree. It is just as unwatchable as the rest of his films. It’s a love story (you’ll know this only if you read a blurb or plot of the film written in some promotional material) set in the ancient city of Pompeii just before and after the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Kit Harrington – Jon Snow from Game of Thrones who is fast becoming the new Orlando Bloom – plays Milo, a slave tipped to be one of the gladiators in the arenas of Pompeii. He predictably falls in love with the city merchant’s daughter and predictably earns the wrath of the evil Roman Senator Corvus. Milo and Corvus have a history, which if done away with would make no difference to the film whatsoever.
The film lacks color both literally and metaphorically. Every syllable of the dialogs is pronounced with so much weight like they are expecting an applause at the end of it. Such sense of entitlement! The women have nothing to do except make puppy faces and wait around for the men to save them or harass them. The players themselves have no interest in the proceedings. The love story is birthed and shot with no emotion or passion whatsoever. Keifer Sutherland screams and orders like he is still Jack Bauer. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is the only actor straining his muscles (both in arms and face) and displaying some effort – even if it’s a bit hammy. As that’s a little too sincere for this film, his character is routinely killed off. They were sure none of this was going to make a convincing argument in favor of the film so what do they do? They release the film in 3D. Best. Decision. Ever.
There is one mildly impressive action sequence though. Applause.