The undertaking of converting historical events into an entertaining film is a difficult process done often in cinema. Sometimes moviemakers can successfully integrate a historical event with compelling storylines and characters such as “Schindler’s List” and the more recent “Argo.”
But more often than not, the audience is enticed by a wonderfully orchestrated teaser trailer, only to walk out of the theatre completely disappointed. In the case of “Pompeii,” a historical fiction more focused on computer-generated imagery (CGI) than any other aspect of the film, it most definitely lacked luster.
The film did show promise as it tried to recreate the epic yet tragic explosion of Mount Vesuvius near the ancient Roman town-city of Pompeii. The special effects used to portray the massiveness of the explosion were fantastic. Fire, smoke and rocks flying through the air were just the start of the natural disaster.
The artists involved with the special and visual effects did a fantastic job at putting the audience right in the middle of the eruption. Paired with the musical score orchestrating the disaster, the scenes of Mount Vesuvius created a beautiful yet tragic thing to be seen.
However, besides awesome work from the visual and sound effect teams, the movie lacked a creative storyline and compelling characters. The film portrayed a love story between the daughter of a wealthy merchant and a slave turned gladiator.
Cassia, the princess played by Emily Browning, is a character of compassion and intelligence; however, she is powerless in almost every scene. Her lover Milo, played by Kit Harington, is captured as an orphan and enslaved.
Harington’s work as Jon Snow in HBO’s “Game of Thrones” provides the audience with a character who is conflicted between his obligations as a man of the Night’s Watch and forbidden love with a wildling. Snow is known for his wisdom and insightful commentary.
However, Harington’s acting through Milo is characterized by corny one-liners and deep longing stares. He makes up for his lack of dialogue with his moves in the arena as a gladiator, where he teams up with another slave named Atticus, played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje.
The scenes in the arena include the costumes and weapons that attempted to give the film some historical accuracy. However, the lack of blood and gore made these scenes barely entertaining.
If one wanted to watch a complete bloodbath, “300” would be the better option. One thing these scenes did accomplish was portraying the glory of the underdog with two slaves turned gladiators defeating dozens of other slaves and roman soldiers.
The last 30 minutes of the movie shows Milo escaping the volcanic erruption to find his way back to the villa where Cassia was trapped. However, the problem with making a movie about a natural disaster where everyone dies (spoiler alert) is that everyone dies.
Perhaps the moviemakers had a problem developing the love story due to the timeline of events in the film, but there was definitely a lack of passion in the couple’s relationship.
In an effort to leave a burning image in the minds of the audience, the very last scene of the film shows the two lovers frozen in ash, embraced in a kiss.
While this image does not make up for the lack of passion in the film, it does bring back the reality of that day in history.
Archeologists have uncovered hundreds of thousands of Pompeii citizens from the hardened ash, where many have been found embracing their loved ones in the face of one of the most tragic natural disasters ever recorded.