|Die Frankfurt-Tipp Bewertung:|
|Genre:||Adventure, Action, Romance|
|Regie:||Paul W.S. Anderson|
|Laufzeit:||Ca. 104 min.|
|FSK:||From 12 years|
After he had to watch as a child how his whole tribe was murdered by the henchmen of Tribune Corvus (Kiefer Sutherland), there is only one goal for the Celtic Milo (Kit Harington): to take revenge on the murderer of his family. He has the chance to do so 17 years after the massacre: Milo has meanwhile been brought to Pompeii as a slave, where he is supposed to go to the arena during the gladiator fights for the great wine festival. On the way to the city, Milo meets the young nobleman Cassia (Emily Browning), whose fallen horse frees Milo from his suffering. Enticed by the courage and selfless initiative of the slave, Cassia falls in love with Milo. But this love has no future, because as a daughter of a good family she is not allowed to get involved with a simple slave. Especially since her parents Aurelia (Carrie-Anne Moss) and Severus (Jared Harris) are trying to make Corvus, who came from Rome, feel at home, so that he can support her in a big building project. But all this soon becomes meaningless, because in front of the city the big volcano bubbles and an unimaginable catastrophe threatens to destroy Pompeii and its inhabitants…
With "Pompeii" director Paul W.S. Anderson tries to present a catastrophe spectacle somewhere between "Gladiator" and "Titanic". The fact that he did not quite succeed in this is due in particular to two facts. For one thing, Anderson has never been a really good storyteller. While he's often done a good job with effects and action, it's not necessarily one of his strengths to breathe life into the characters or develop a stirring dramaturgy. And this has a negative effect on "Pompeii" several times over. The love between Milo and Cassia doesn't just seem believable for a moment. The fact that he can't do much more than let his muscles play with his naked upper body and express his world-weariness in his facial expressions doesn't really make Milo a hero with whom you feel and suffer as a spectator. It may be pretty to look at for the female viewers, but that's all it is. But this is even worse with Cassia, who shows the whole movie about the same stupid facial expression. Why Milo should be in her and not in Ariadne (Jessica Lucas), her much more attractive and mimically lively servant, remains one of the many unsolved mysteries of the film.
The villian Corvus, too, is drawn in such a one-dimensional way that he doesn't pose a real threat, but rather an involuntary comedy. Kiefer Sutherland is anxious to convincingly give the crazy villains, but they simply don't want to take the Roman tribune from him. Just like him, the other figures are all constructed in a stencil-like manner, and what they present as rather wooden are nothing more than clichéd phrases, as we know them from countless other films. That wouldn't be so bad if the film didn't take itself so seriously. In his version of "The Three Musketeers" Anderson was able to compensate for such weaknesses with a quite high fun factor. But this is completely missing here.
This brings us to the second big problem: in order to get the lowest possible age rating, the action was kept as good and bloodless as possible. No matter how hard the swords are struck and the spears thrown in the gladiatorial arena, the results are always amazingly free of blood and obvious wounds, though often fatal. Certainly, a movie doesn't necessarily need obvious brutality to be good. But if a gladiator's sword remains clean as a whistle even after stabbing his opponents several times, it takes on some ridiculous traits. And since purely optical comparisons to "Gladiator" or the series "Spartacus" are obvious, "Pompeii" also comes off rather badly in terms of gladiator action.
Only the big volcanic eruption that dominates the last twenty minutes of the film remains. This is visually great and justifies here and there even the otherwise rather unnecessary 3D optics. But however good the visual effects may be, the outburst does not touch the emotions. Since Anderson hasn't managed to tie the viewer to the characters and their fate, the downfall of Pompeii isn't the desired emotional climax of the movie, but a spectacular orgy of destruction, which is interrupted by some senseless duels and culminates in a really ridiculous final picture. It's not enough simply to tell a simple love story against the background of a real catastrophe in order to captivate and touch the audience. The characters also have to be interesting and accessible enough, and unfortunately that's not the case here at all.
Sets, visual effects and some of the more action-packed sequences are absolutely worth seeing, while the rest is a single, rather loveless cobbled together cliché that only fans of extremely undemanding popcorn entertainment will enjoy. So if you're tired of the last few minutes of a really nice crash and don't value good dialogues, convincing actors and a halfway thrilling story, you can watch "Pompeii" with confidence. But anyone who hopes not only to be knocked down by the effects but also to be touched emotionally should avoid this disaster area as far as possible. Therefore: only conditionally worth seeing!
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