Pompeii 3D – Review


Director: Paul W.S. Anderson   

Music: Clinton Shorter

Stars: Kit Harington, Emily Browning, Kiefer Sutherland

The disaster movie has always been a genre guaranteed to create incredible box-office returns. If you look at Roland Emmerich’s impressive blockbuster hit 2012, which grossed over $750million, it is clear that destroying well-known landmarks = bums on seats.

However since 2012‘s 2009 release the genre has fallen into a dormant state. Nevertheless, four years later Paul W.S. Anderson attempts to reawaken this box-office behemoth with his take on the tragic true events at Pompeii, but does the film succeed in its task?

Partially is the short answer. Anderson’s first film since 2012’s disaster Resident Evil: Retribution is as cheesy as a Dairylea triangle, but it also has some stunning special effects to give it some life.

Game of Thrones’ Kit Harington stars as Milo, a slave captured by the Romans afterarticle-2574458-1C12737300000578-462_634x711 they wiped out his entire family. He is taken to a gloriously recreated Pompeii and immediately sets his sights on the very beautiful Lady Cassia, played by a rather dull Emily Browning, who just so happens to be the daughter of the city ruler, Severus. I’m sure you can guess the plot…

What ensues is a cheesy mess of terrible acting and stilted dialogue that jars with the period nature of the film. Only the knowing of what is to come from Mt Vesuvius, which is beautifully rendered in CGI, stops the film from grinding to a halt.

Kiefer Sutherland dons a downright ridiculous English accent for the role of Senator Corvus, the chief antagonist in the film. He is on business in Pompeii to see if trade can be established and investment can be agreed with the great city of Rome – though this plot point gets lost along the way.


Another issue is the true story which Pompeii is based on. The great tale of tragedy and mother nature showing her ruthless side is one we all know – but all we really want to see is the mountain going boom. Unfortunately we must wait whilst Anderson tries his best to make us care about the characters with their sickly back-stories, for which he fails in breathtaking fashion.

Finally after nearly an hour of what feels like a poor-mans Gladiator we are treat to a stunning spectacle, as Mt Vesuvius explodes in rip-roaring style. As the mountain blows and the fireballs rage Anderson once again tries to get us interested in the paper-thin story, thankfully not pushing too hard this time, and he lets the special effects take over.

Historical accuracy is, surprisingly, very good. According to the director, Pompeii was faithfully recreated for the film with aerial shots of the city as it stands today topped up with CGI to show the thriving metropolis we see in the film.

Unfortunately, scientific accuracy takes a back-seat for the sake of high drama, which is the case with many films of this nature. The iconic pyroclastic flow, attributed to killing the majority of Pompeii’s inhabitants due to its huge speed and massive temperatures is slowed right down to ensure the film can last another ten minutes or so – though this is perhaps to be expected.

Overall, Paul W.S. Anderson has created a film which certainly looks the part, but is lacking in so many other areas. Kiefer Sutherland’s villain is completely upstaged by the constant shots of the volcano, which are almost pantomime like in their ‘it’s behind you’ staging, and the rest of the cast are wooden and not particularly likeable.

However, what it lacks in story and acting finesse it makes up in the beautiful special effects and engaging cinematography. It’s worth a watch just to see Pompeii get obliterated – which is probably not a very nice thing to say at all.


Scoring /10





Special Effects/Cinematography




Costume Design






Overall: Anderson forgets cracking special effects don’t equal brilliance.

4 thoughts on “Pompeii 3D – Review

  1. How cracking are those 3D special effects exactly? Lava in your face? Ugh! Won’t my living room catch fire!? Isn’t Emily Browning in 3D hot enough already!!??

  2. Pingback: MM Top 5: Things Marvel needs to stop | Movie Metropolis UK

Leave a Reply