POMPEII REVIEW

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Pompeii – Perrrleaaaaseee.

Another big, dumb, needless blockbuster on a piece of history. However, that being said, the town has become a major site for tourism so . . . Moving on.

BUT despite it’s cliche-ridden by the numbers plot line and generic characters; the visual effects were outstanding, the 3D a worthy investment and I was kept entertained for the next 105 minutes.

Let’s be honest, Paul W S Anderson’s past efforts have hardly been groundbreaking (The Resident Evil franchise, Alien Versus Predator, The Three Musketeers). Pompeii is certainly one of his most ambitious efforts. Visual imagery, special effects and action have always been his forte but he would always spoil it with naff characters, ridiculous plot holes and boring predictable story lines.

Pompeii, like it’s aftermath, is a bit of a mess BUT a watchable one.

Arise, Jon Snow (no, not the Channel 4 news anchor) I mean – Kit Harington (Game of Thrones), an ever rising star. Harington proves yet again to be a strong, likeable lead. Granted, his character is pretty much Jon Snow in gladiator mode but it still works. He has enough charisma and sultry sulking to keep everybody happy. And if his body was really that toned, then I need to hit the gym.

Pompeii is pretty much about a volcano. You don’t say? 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. BUT as Mount Vesuvius erupts, he must fight to save his beloved as Pompeii crumbles around him. O-err!

The opening zips along quite well even if it skimmed through the predictable cliched Gladiator/Spartacus/Conan plot lines. BUT it quickly set up who was who and got the ball rolling. Harington’s back story was lazy. Northern Britannia? Really? Londinium? (Oh wait. That was actually called that).

The 3D doesn’t jump out the screen at you but it certainly makes everything so much more prominent. The trees and houses really force their presence on the screen. We are soon thrown into the picturesque Pompeii where Milo (Harington) falls for the (already spoken for) Cassia (Emily Browning – Sucker Punch/The Host).

Browning and Harington convey enough chemistry to make the laughable corniness of their inevitable romance watchable. The whole horse thing in order for them to meet was unbelievably cheesy. Jon Snow. Gladiator and part time horse whisperer. Brilliant.

I must commend the supporting cast for managing to make such stocky characters memorable. I can’t believe that Jack Bauer – I mean Kiefer Sutherland was in this as Corvus. He has enough panto menace to make a vicious villain. BUT his mish-mesh accent had me in stitches. Fair play to Jack for giving it a crack though. This was worth seeing alone for the Bauer blade off with Jon Snow. A nerdgasm for any TV addict.

Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje was very good as Atticus; a retiring gladiator on the verge of winning his freedom. He works well with Harington and they make a decent duo. To be honest for all the cheesiness, you do end up rooting for the chaps.

Jared Harris (Mad Men) and Carrie Anne Moss (The Matrix franchise) were wasted in this. They do their best to portray the conflicted parents torn between honouring their civic duty and protecting their daughter from the lechy Corvus. For the Matrix fans, poor Trinity suffers a demise that may look a little too familiar. Yes, really. Had me in stitches too.

The lovely Jessica Lucas (That Awkward Moment/Melrose Place) tragically played a stocky sidekick. Shame. BUT cudos to Sasha Roiz (Grimm) who managed to provide a manic minion to Sutherland’s sinister senator.

The problem for me is that when you’ve had films like Gladiator and Spartacus (not to mention the excellent TV series), you can’t help but feel that there isn’t much else to offer in plot. It’s all been done before. If you love those sort of films regardless and demand another, then here we are.

It’s action packed and once the vociferous volcano finally erupts. It was incredible to watch but my God, everything gets thrown out of the window that it was verging on parodical! People running around and getting bopped on the heads with flying rocks should have terrifying. Instead, it was bloody hilarious!

And what infuriated me was after this mad dash of a fierce finale, it ends so abruptly and flat that I could feel my temper rising like the lavary ooze of Vesuvius.

So . . . in conclusion, it’s not as bad as you think but certainly not that great either. If you go in with an open mind, you may come out pleasantly surprised but if you’re expecting a Gladiator, then go watch . . . Gladiator.

2.5/5

Also as a side note for the LOST fans when Mr Eko saw that black smoke coming out of Vesuvius. 😉 Yeah, you know.

THAT AWKWARD MOMENT REVIEW

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Awkward film altogether.

A talented cast do their best with the muddled material BUT it misses the mark completely. Corny, cheesy, predictable. A missed opportunity.

Efron plays the charismatic lead well as the typical commitment phobe and womaniser Jason. He quickly sums up the plot while freezing his backside off on a bench in the middle of Central Park. Some waffle about “So moment”. What? You know that so moment. So . . . where is this relationship going? Is it time to shape up or ship out? Move forward or move on. Cue a flashback and a mediocre movie. 

Miles Teller (Whiplash) played the oblivious Daniel with aplomb. Providing a much needed comic relief. We join the pair as they enjoy sleeping around with their “roster” of women. While Michael B. Jordan’s Mikey, a depressed 20-something married man has just discovered that his wife (Jessica Lucas – Pompeii) has been cheating on him. The pair attempt to cheer him up BUT instead fall for two ladies instead. After promising to their old pal that they would stay single with him. Meh.

The first encounter between Jason and Ellie (Imogen Poots – Need For Speed) was nauseating. However, the pair’s chemistry clicked and made the predictable hook up spiel a lot more watchable. Poots delivered a very convincing American accent. There was even some fun to be had. An awkward surprise party date was cringe-inducing BUT hilarious.

The film desperately tried to convey the lad culture in which blokes don’t share feelings. If we’re down, we drink. If we’re happy, we drink. We have to sleep around and only think with our d – muscles. The camaraderie between the three actors was really good and there was some genuine banter. Efron and Teller worked well together BUT some of the gags went on a bit. And Inbetweeners, they ain’t. Talking about cock spas and stuff like that just fell flat. The fake tan incident with Mikey was funny. Infuriatingly, the better one liners from that scene were only in the heavily flogged trailers.

The film struggled to set a tone. In one moment, it was a dirty teen sex comedy. The next, a nauseating rom com. Michael B. Jordan’s (Creed) character Mikey had the better story line BUT there was barely any of it. Despite a solid performance, he was pushed to the background. Shame. Instead, we were subjected to Efron’s subplot that had been done to death. Jordan’s story line commented on the struggles of young couples marrying early. More could have made out of that. A little too much of the Teller and Efron show.  

It wasn’t really until the hour marker that the drama or humour kicked off. Any real issues or noteworthy moments were soon ruined with corny schmaltz or a dirty joke. I mean the banter worked for a good portion of the film. The lads’ bickering about a new girlfriend crashing the “bachelor pad” was an argument I’ve experienced too many a time. Efron and Teller’s gay date debate in a sex shop as they were messing about with vibrators was juvenile BUT funny.

This was hardly a lad’s rom com as promoted. It tried to be different by focusing from that angle. BUT it never really got going. It was watchable, delivered the odd laugh BUT just when it seemed to pick up and bring some real issues to the fold, it buried them quick and went for an OTT and cheesy finale. Disappointing.

2/5