Pompeii is a vast archaeological site located in southern Italy’s Campania region. Once a thriving and sophisticated Roman city, Pompeii was buried in meters of ash and pumice after the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D.
That's the place! As for the plot of this movie:
A slave-turned-gladiator finds himself in a race against time to save his true love, who has been betrothed to a corrupt Roman Senator. As Mount Vesuvius erupts, he must fight to save his beloved as Pompeii crumbles around him.
It has 8 Wins and 4 Nominations on IMDB, which is surprisingly high considering the surplus of cheesy acting, superficial characters, relations, trails of vengeance, wrath of the Gods and all in between.
The main character gladiator Mil, AKA The Celt (played by Kit Harington), seems incredibly cheesy, and weak-willed, and overall very unfit to be the character he plays. He doesn't seem vengeful and strong at all, but rather frail and worried, like someone trying to look tougher than he is.
His in-movie love of royal creed Cassia (played by Emily Browning) is a lot more convincing in her role, though their chemistry is horrible; their interactions forced and fleeting until the very end where their first kiss is eternalized and they turn into monuments of stone. I won't bother with a spoiler tag, since you'd be more disappointing expecting they would get away and not get to see it.
It's such an unnecessary ending. All that running and they still couldn't run away. Why run so far it seemed like they had escaped, and then suddenly break that illusion with a horsey excuse. They seemed to be doing fine. If they absolutely must turn back to look into the fire, why not meet their ashen embrace in the arena like the proud gladiator Atticus (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje)... or anywhere else, really, and with reason, with Pompeii giving them no pardon. They chose the most inopportune moment to do what they did, and it feels all the more reckless since they had a chance, but choose to pause, and debate their will to survive - or lack there-of, rather than galloping hopelessly ahead of the ashen wave, with confidence or not, but together.
That it was the most cinematically appealing place doesn't justify it. That it was an unexpected tragedy? A surprise? Who are they trying to appeal to? What's the point?
Using the escape as a way to better the scenery for their final moment feels so unnecessary, and their turning to stone through the flood of fire... that's really not how it works either. It's unnecessary, unrealistic, and in the end highly disappointing, as is the play on vengeance that quickly gets overshadowed by the looming ash clouds. It felt like the kind of movie where you'd expect a cliche ending from the start (where the two of them escape), but breaking free from that cliche like they did felt like a wrong turn. Like swapping a Coke for a Pepsi. It's new, but it's still the same thing. It lacks purpose. Surely there were better ways.
The special effects may be pompeious and grand, and it is a tragic tale of love and death with overly symbolic undertones (overtones then), but it didn't make the best of its potential. It started a bit like a soap opera version of The Gladiator, and though the battle, backstory, and romance seemed promising, it all leaves much to be desired. The ending for one; the characters most of all.
rated 2/5: decent