But this time we decided we wanted to take an evening and do a good ol' fashioned "Dinner & A Movie" date. So we shipped the kids off to my Sister-in-Law's house and headed out to the city. We had both been rather excited to see Pompeii, as we both LOVE history, especially tragic or "dark" history. Going in we both understood that it was supposed to be a Historical Fiction, and not any kind of Documentary. So we expected there to be a good deal of artistic license going on, but we assumed that the story would surround the destruction of the city and the interpersonal stories which took place in those last hours... To some degree, I suppose, we were correct - but for the most part, we were greatly disappointed.
Before we went I had seen only the few momentary clips which were in the "Teaser Trailer" and didn't really have a good grasp of what the movie was about. Going back and watching the trailers since, I don't know how anyone could really expect the movie to be what it is just from that small impression. I knew it was a love story, and I was okay with that - as I said, we understood that it was meant to be Historical-Fiction. So I expected something along the lines of "Titanic," where the main story was completely fictional, but the story surrounding them - the iceburg and all the resulting death & destruction as the boat sank - was to a large degree historically sound. Unfortunately, that's not at all what I got.
For the most part, the movie had few links to the destruction of Pompeii besides taking place in a city with that name who happened to have a volcano in the background. Instead of telling a story of love in a time of tragedy, the writers chose to create a film which generally surrounded the relationship between a slave-class gladiator and an upper class young woman. With the exception of a few rumbles and the odd scene where a horse-trainer is swallowed up by the Earth, at least the entire first half of the film focuses almost solely on this Gladiator. Now, I am certain there were gladiators in Pompeii, but there were also Gladiators in every other Roman province at the time. Had they wished to make yet another Gladiator film, they shouldn't have named it Pompeii - cashing in on the volcanic fame of the city - but they did.
The final 25% of the film is really the only time the volcanic tragedy came in to play at all. At which point writers completely threw out any historical reality and simply decided to re-write things for a more dramatic effect. Again, this isn't a big deal IF you aren't naming your film after the worlds best known volcanic tragedy. There was NO tsunami in Pompeii, there was NO lava flow in Pompeii, and there was NO Earth-quake ripping up streets and buildings - had their been, it wouldn't have been any more special of an eruption than any other in history. In fact, what makes Pompeii so famous is all that the eruption left behind - which would not have been left behind had it happened as this movie portrays.
In all honesty, had they simply chosen not to name the movie Pompeii, it could have been a good movie. The movie itself wasn't generally the issue - the acting wasn't horrid, the story was decent, and the action was good -- although I don't think even the buffest gladiator could out run a tsunami no matter how awesome he is. But as far as movies go, this one wasn't bad -- UNLESS, like me, you were there because it was supposedly based around a Historical event... Then the movie becomes not worth your time.
So lets see... If I had to, I would say this film earns itself 3/5 stars. IF you can separate the fact that the movie has nearly NO historical basis, or if you don't know the story of Pompeii (you really should look it up in that case) then you may enjoy the movie. It has the romance and sexy half dressed men that the women are looking for, and the violence and action that men want. BUT, if you're like me and wanted to see it solely as historical fiction, don't waste your time or money, and go see something else!