Pompeii sucks

 

 

"Kiss me you hunky gladiator, forget living...where is that horse?"

“Kiss me you hunky gladiator, forget living…where is that horse?”

I finally got to see the movie Pompeii with Kiefer Sutherland.  I don’t recommend the film.  I don’t know what it was…I have been thinking about it the last few days, and there were two things that really irritated me – one, Kiefer Sutherland and two, the general ‘pace’ of the movie.

Everything about Sutherland says 21st century. Sutherland played a Roman senator and his overall character was thoroughly dislikeable. Some may say he did his job, but he played the guy as an effete smug little ass, that would perfectly at home on Wall-street or some corporate office.

Kit Harington was the protagonist named Milo. A gladiator nicknamed: ‘The Celt’ is brought to Pompeii to liven up the games. He is one of these guys that is outnumbered and kills everyone in 10 seconds or less, and walks away not even breaking a sweat. You can almost hear him think: “Is that all you got?” He was pretty good.

Spoiler Alert: Plot of movie in six lines or less.

Gladiator is transferred to Pompeii. Wealthy girl comes home to Pompeii to join her parents. FORSHADOWING – rumble…rumble. Senator from Rome pursues pretty girl. She thinks, “Yech. Can’t stand him. Like Gladiator better.” Gladiatorial game. FORESHADOWING – rumble…rumble. Pompeii blows top, everyone runs. Protagonist and antagonist battle it out while Pompeii is destroyed. Bad guy dies. Gladiator and pretty girl escape, horse too slow for two people, “No, you take the horse,” he says. “No, you take the horse,” she says. They kiss. Ash cloud sweeps over them – EVERYONE DIES.

Things I liked about the movie.

1) Great aerial shots of the city.

2) Cool BROMANCE between Milo (hero gladiator) and Atticus (Played mate. Watch this guy in future films; he has a perfect combination of menace and intelligence. It would be interesting to see him cast as the lead.)

3) MOST BELIEVABLE CHARACTERS THAT DESERVED MORE LINES: Carrie Ann-Moss, the actress from MATRIX, and Jared Harris a great British actor from MADMEN. This movie would have been better if the film centered on them. What is it like to see your world and everything you love destroyed?

4) LOVELY TO LOOK AT: Emily Browning!

Things I hated about the movie.

1) Kiefer Sutherland.

2) The movie never took a breath. ACTION, ACTION, ACTION…Let’s take a breath and let the audience see what it is like to live at that time?

3) Everyone had inexhaustible energy, and no one seemed affected by the ash spewing in the air.

4) Pompeii got blown up, fireballs, projectiles, buildings crumbling – I seem to remember many buildings remained intact.

5) Doesn’t every high born patrician girl jump on horse with a Thracian and run away for 30 minutes so that they can have a ‘joy ride.’ “Oh no, he won’t rape or kill me. He is kind for he killed my horse.” She never really said that but the only interaction the two had was the gladiator killing her horse when it went lame. Hey, isn’t that the path to every girl’s heart?

6) MOST BLATANT THEFT: The writer stole a scene from the movie Gladiator. It’s the scene where a myth is recreated in the arena, and the gladiators play the losing side in a recreated myth. Except, they don’t die! In the movie Gladiator Kenneth Crowe’s brilliant leadership changes the outcome, so our hero and his friend Atticus pull off the same stunt. GIVE ME A BREAK! Can we have some originality? They even stole the line (not exact): “I don’t remember it turning out that way.”

7) A Greek Choir (ten guys in golden masks making announcements like a PA system). Yes, I agree there are some weird things in history, but some things just don’t translate very well.

GREEK CHORUS:

“HAIL, GREAT JUPITER! WE ARE RECREATING A SCENE FROM THE MOVIE GLADIATOR. JANET AND LEE BETCHLER, AND MICHAEL JOHNSON SMOKED TOO MUCH WEED AND STOLE A SCENE FROM GLADIATOR THINKING THE AMERICAN PUBLIC IS TOO STUPID TO NOTICE. WOE ONTO THEM, MAY THEIR BOWELS BE EATEN BY HARPIES!”

Common sense item ignored in movie: (This is where you have to figure humans – no matter what time period they live in – would react the same way). When a volcano blows up, may I make the following suggestion: RUN! No one stays to fight it out with the bad guys. The gods are raining fire and projectiles upon the town, but instead Milo the gladiator searches out Corvus (played by Sutherland) to ‘duke’ it out.

Frightening ironic item from 9/11 (an equally disturbing disaster): I saw a documentary, where a videographer was filming around New York after the first plane hit the building. Some idiot supervisor was telling workers to go back into the building. I have met government workers with this ‘dumb ass’ personality. There is a special place in hell for supervisors that tell you to go back into a building that has a jet burning in it. To my understanding, there were people in Pompeii that had the good sense to note the signs and leave town.

I hope there are always people with good sense to leave even with a lame-ass supervisor telling employees to get back to work.

“Ignore the burning plane; get back to your cubicle.” Or “Ignore the volcano spewing ash; get back to the wine press!”

Here are some suggestions for other Pompeii movies and books:

Movie: The Last days of Pompeii, 1935. (Interesting story line, there’s a kid to tug at your heart strings, Christian storyline near the end.)

Book: The last days of Pompeii by Edward Bulwer-Lytton (Has nothing to do with the movie. Language is slightly antiquated. This could be the time period and the audience intended for the book, but with all the ‘thee-ing’ and ‘thou-ing’ I wondered if he was trying to give the impression of a translated dialogue from Latin itself. Written in 1834 so that explains a lot, but if you have trouble with it try reading Ben Hur. This book was written in 1880 and is an easier read.

Book: Ghosts of Vesuvius by Charles R. Pellegrino. One of the best books on Pompeii and assorted other subjects. Science, history, philosophy, all mixed into a study of disaster. He backs it all up with facts and a side-comparison to the trade towers. This is a must read for the curious. This is one of those books you will be highlighting passages, and circling bits of information.

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/ghosts-of-vesuvius-charles-r-pellegrino/1110897632?ean=9780060751005

Comments

  • Lew · June 22, 2014 · 8:07 pm

    Just saw the movie Pompeii a couple of weeks ago. Yup. Quit a few things bothered me about the film. Probably wouldn’t have if I hadn’t read so many books about Pompeii.

    The giant flaming fireballs. Seems to me it was smaller, volcanic “bombs” and a heavy rain of pumice. Not huge bus sized flaming rocks taking out entire buildings. And, scoring a direct hit on the boat that one of the bad guys is getting away in? Oh, please.

    A tsunami? Flinging a boat over the city wall and into a street? No.

    No, I’m not always expecting a happy ending, but, I think the movie would have been more satisfying if the young couple had gotten away.

    But, all things considered, the sets, costumes and aerial views were pretty spectacular. As general disaster porn, it was great. Just wish I hadn’t read all that background material, over the years.

    Seems to me there was another Pompeii film done in the late 50′s. Saw it at our local cinema. .25 cent Saturday matinee. I can still remember the opening scene. Three Roman soldiers on leave ride into the local hotspot (Pompeii) for a little R and R.

  • Al Schlaf · July 5, 2014 · 2:25 pm

    I’ve just started watching this movie on DVD and am well aware of the points raised above. I look to watch it for the set dressings and CGI.

    However, on your recommendation of Pellegrino’s book, one should be aware there are a lot of statements in it that are just plain wrong:

    1. steam pumps in the baths
    2. steam powered yachts, in particular, the one Nero tried t kill his mother with
    3. Cicero was a brilliant general (really!)
    4. Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura was suppressed by the emperors and only found when the Villa of the Papyri was uncovered

    among others.

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