Pompeii 3D Ashes to Ashes on February 21 (Review & Trailer) [Update]

Pompeii 3D Ashes to Ashes on February 21 (Review)

It has been pointed out by the IMAX PR team that Pompeii 3D will not be shown in IMAX theaters, while the film is in “real” 3D it is not scheduled to play in any IMAX venue. The Guardian Liberty Voice would like to thank the PR team for contacting the paper to clear this up and the GLV would also like to apologise for any confusion caused by this error. The film Pompeii 3D opens today February 21, in cinemas nationwide.

Paul W.S. Anderson has taken a break from the Resident Evil franchise to dabble in one of the world’s most cataclysmic event in history; Pompeii 3D, released in 2014 and spewing ashes to ashes on February 21. The feature is being shown in IMAX with the added bonus of “real” 3D. It is debatable whether or not this manner of distribution is really necessary. After all, everyone knows what happened to Pompeii in 79 AD when Mount Vesuvius finally quit messing around and blew its top spectacularly. You can see the trailer for the film at the end of this review although it could be seen as a huge spoiler.

This event killed an estimated 16,000 people and was witnessed by Pliny the Younger who was a Roman poet and administrator. Besides burying Pompeii the volcanic ash and lava also destroyed the lesser known Herculaneum. Anderson does direct cracking action films and the decision to base a film amidst the volcanic backdrop which resulted in the eradication of Pompeii must have seemed like a good idea at the time. However, to make the film’s plot about an unlikely romance between a slave-turned-gladiator and the daughter of a wealthy Pompeii merchant who has been promised to a nasty Roman Senator and a “will they make it” premise toward the end seems to have been a misjudgment.

Regardless of the audience knowing the overall outcome of the film before being seated in IMAX splendor and donning “real” 3D glasses, it has to be said that the film looked spectacular. Anderson is getting to be an old hand at the entire 3D scene with this film being the fourth in line to benefit from this
process. Cinematographer Glen MacPherson, known for Rambo (2008) and Resident Evil: Afterlife in 2010, made good work of lighting to make the film look, at times, thunderous and dark, but with a crispness that allowed all the FX and the meticulous attention to detail shine.

This 2014 film, Pompeii 3D with its ashes to ashes motif does entertain and the audience does chuckle in the right places and gasp when required. Chuckling was more in order than outright laughter as the film does not offer enough “light” amusement to take away from the ominous rumbles of the volcano in the near background.

The FX, the camera work and the lighting were not the only things to shine in the film. Leading man Kit Harington, who is, perhaps, better known as HBO Game of Thrones regular Jon Snow did more than beef himself up for the role of slave turned gladiator. This actor’s focus was brilliant and despite being lumbered with a name like Milo (seriously, his nickname as the “Celt” worked so much better) he brought a seriousness to the part and although he was not as memorable as Kiefer Sutherland, he did well enough to make a positive impression.

Emily Browning as the beautiful love interest does not appear to have changed much since her Ghost Ship and Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, or for that matter Sucker Punch days. The actress is still unique looking and her unusual beauty allows her to fill any time period character’s shoes with little difficulty. A more than capable actress who seemed to be a suitable match for this unlikely romance.

Milo, the gladiator, was paired equally with Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje who played Atticus; a gladiator who has one last fight to win in order to earn his freedom. Akinnuoye-Agbaje just finished playing in Thor: The Dark World is perhaps best remembered for his work as Mr Eko in Lost. As an actor, Akinnuoye-Agbaje could ask for someone to pass the salt with enough energy and menace to frighted his table mates to death.

Pompeii 3D Ashes to Ashes on February 21 (Review)
Atticus and Milo in one of those splendid fight scenes.

The real surprise was Kiefer Sutherland. Looking up at the IMAX screen through 3D glasses, did nothing to take away from the idea that Jack Bauer had somehow gotten lost and wound up completely by accident in a film about Pompeii. The 24 illusion was broken instantly when Sutherland spoke. His Senator Corvus was a nasty bit of work and keeping with the Hollywood theme that all Romans, and nazis or any other “foreign” villains should have an English accent, Sutherland donned an appropriate cut-glass delivery that oozed menace.

Sounding a little like the late great British actor Terry Thomas with a drawing out of his “S” words along with an almost effete tone of voice, with deep resonating timbre, almost made it sound like Kiefer’s voice had been dubbed. This, however, was not the case it was Sutherland doing what he does best which is act the pants off anyone else on the screen.

One last word on actors, it seemed a cruel waste of Carrie-Anne Moss and the splendid Jared Harris in their tiny roles as Cassia’s (Browning) parents and the always beautiful, yet talented Jessica Lucas as Cassia’s servant or best friend, that bit was a tad confusing.

The fight scenes were choreographed with expert timing and the sword fights were stunning. Jean Frenette did a brilliant job as fight and stunt coordinator and it showed on screen. All of the stunts were spectacular and done so well there was not one “miss” to be seen.

Overall, the 2014 film Pompeii 3D is very entertaining. It is a Paul W.S. Anderson movie so it is bound to be good. Sure it is a bit depressing that the audience already knows just how the film will end. Ashes to ashes and Pompeii residents caught like mosquitoes in amber with the volcanic ash capturing their last moments, but until that last frame, the film was certainly entertaining enough. There were, of course, moments that felt a little too much like Gladiator revisited but as the last of the closing credits rolled, a good time was had by all. Definitely worth watching as a metaphoric film aperitif for 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE which opens on March 7, 2014. Have a look at the trailer below, the film opens across the country on February 21, 2014.

By Michael Smith



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