In the Provinces of the Empire we meet young Milo (Dylan Schombing) at a battle between the Celtic and the Romans to open a passage in the Norther Isles. The Roman forces are led by Corvus (Keifer Sutherland) and Proculus (Sasha Roiz). As they defeat the Celtic horsemen the Romans slaughter everyone taking no prisoners. Young Milo hides in horrible circumstances ending up as the only know survivor of his clan.
The story jumps ahead to Londinium 19 years later where Milo (Kit Harrington) has grown up to be a gladiator /slave known as the Celtic defeating all challengers. His feriousness pleases his owner Graecus (Joe Pingue) who sends Milo to Pompeii to face better competition.
Upon arrival Milo catches the eye of Cassia (Emily Browning) the daughter of the cities Prefect with a kind act. Her father Severus (Jared Harris) has a plan to obtain investment from Rome for a city building project. Soon Corvus enters the town as a representative of the Emperor to a mixed reception. He has a history with Cassia and turns out to be the potential main investor in Severus's project.
The story written by Janet Scott Batchler, Lee Batchler and Michael Robert Johnston is telegraphed but fast paced when compared to other narratives of an epic event. All the elements of romantic and physical rivalries are present. The two inevitable lovers Milo and Cassia who originate from completely opposite worlds. Gladiator Rivals, the new challenger Milo and the veteran champion Atticus (Adewale Akinnoye- Agbaje) who are destined to become best friends and the interlopers from the big city Corvus and Proculus who will take what they want from Pompeii even the first daughter.
The film excels in visual effects and set design. Shown unnecessarily in 3D the visual effects to create Pompeii are stunning. The city streets, presidential palace, and the port of Pompeii with her ships are breathtaking. Director P.W. Anderson shows off these sets with many sweeping overhead shots alternating between close ups and panoramic to give the viewer a sense of the scope and scale of the accent city. The visuals are especially vibrant in the night shots of the city that lights up filling the screen overwhelming the senses with warmth and colour.
The Editorial department were notable with their work on the material. The prologue is short and to the point. The introductions and early interactions of the main characters are crisp, precise and after one gladiatorial event in the Pompeii stadium Mt Vesuvius begins to stir. The Art department were also instrument in the production putting together their vision of the Roman City in intricate detail making the cities eventual destruction more devastating and complete.
Kit Harrington is believable as Milo the Celtic slave turned gladiator and hero of the masses. Harrington continues to thrive in historical action roles reminding audiences of his most famous role of Jon Snow in the Game of Thrones series. Emily Browning turns in the best performance amongst the cast as Cassia, daughter of the Prefect of Pompeii, balancing her feelings for Milo, respect for her parents, duty to her city while loathing Senator Cervus and all that is Rome. Keifer Sutherland has some difficulty finding his accent in the quieter scenes as Roman Senator Cervus but settles into the role as the piece progresses ramping up the evil and he moves deeper into the villain role. Joe Pingue brings some comic relief as Graecus the lounging grape eating, wine drinking, money hoarding slave owning Roman aristocrat.
Pompeii is a simple tail with predictable relationships between the characters. The visual effects, art and set work are where the film excels and make the production worth a viewing. It is a film that I can recommend.
*** out of 4.
Pompeii | Paul W.S. Anderson| U.S.A. /Germany /Canada | 2014 | 104 Minutes.
Tags: Pompeii, Mt. Vesuvius, Celtic Rebellion, Disaster, Rome, Gladiator, Slave, Senator, Chariots.