"Pompeii" tells the story of the ill-fated city and its inhabitants before Mount Vesuvius destroyed everything in its path. And no, that's not a spoiler. Just ask your fifth-grade history teacher.
Taking its cues from movies like "Titanic," Paul W.S. Anderson's "Pompeii" uses the eruption of Mount Vesuvius as backdrop for a love story. Harrington plays Milo, a gladiator slave who who must save his love Cassia (Emily Browning) from her evil husband. And just because that would be too easy, he also has to defeat gladiators and outrun the destruction of Vesuvius while doing so.
Is it good enough to survive the critics?
Come For The Volcano, Stay For The Gladiators
"All that pales before the gladiatorial stuff. Anderson's battles are crisp, brutal, and stirring, and unlike Ridley Scott he doesn't try to shame us for wanting to see gladiators crack each other's skulls. The choreography is about killing and blocking rather than heroic poses, and Anderson distinguishes himself as the rare action director who shows us real bodies in real space in real reaction to each other, who prizes legibility over quick-cut dazzlement, who stages his fights with comic-book zeal rather than puffed-up graphic-novel miserableness." — Alan Scherstuhl, The Village Voice
But Don't Stay For The Love Story
"But with a central love story that feels contrived from the very first note, the major pleasure here is seeing it all blown to smithereens as quickly as possible, resulting in a movie that will have far less staying power than Pompeii's infamous ash-covered victims." — Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter
The Dialogue Is Almost As Fun As The 3-D
"Still, it must be fun writing ancient Roman dialogue, e.g., 'You've dragged me from a perfectly good brothel for this'; and 'These Thracians are too costly to feed.'' It's certainly fun to hear it. And if you want to see disaster effects, 'Pompeii' is the ultimate in one-stop shopping, a combination of the floods in 'The Impossible,' the earthquakes in '2012' and the fireballs of just about every action movie made since 1985. Plus, there are volcanic eruptions, not to mention volcanic ash raining down onto the seats in front of you - or seeming to, in 3-D." — Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle
"Surrender To The Spectacle"
"Director Paul W.S. Anderson, taking a break from cranking out "Resident Evil" movies, has a strong command of CGI technology and 3D effects, and the movie is so grand in scale that you can't help surrender to the spectacle, even if the stuff that's going on with the people in the film is often close to risible." — Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald
It's the Ultimate Guilty Pleasure
"Taking a page from 'Titanic,' the film invents a rich-girl/poor-boy romance, puts a powerful suitor in their way and then besets their star-crossed love story with CG lava showers, rendered all the more spectacular in stereoscopic 3D. In short, 'Pompeii' is a blast, at least by guilty-pleasure standards, opening to massive worldwide potential in a relatively uncompetitive February frame." — Peter Debruge, Variety