This Week In Home Entertainment: Monuments Men, Pompeii And More

By Jessica Rawden 2014-05-20 21:46:29discussion comments
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Pompeii Box
Pompeii Blu-ray
Most of Pompeii’s marketing was heavily reliant on the explosion of the volcano that should have been at the heart of the narrative. Unfortunately, Pompeii spends a good chunk of its first hour clunkily revisiting gladiator tropes we’ve seen before. Then, finally, Paul W.S. Anderson’s impressive grasp of visuals kicks in, tying an improbable love story to one of the most famous disasters of all time.

The trajectory of Pompeii is that of a rollercoaster. Bad dialogue guzzles and spurts between friendship-building exposition between gladiators and excellent villainous looks from Kiefer Sutherland, who plays the disreputable Corvus in the movie. Chaste meet-cutes slow the narrative down, while fireballs and foreboding skies speed it up at an incredible rate. In short, Pompeii is as messy as the ash-covered streets Vesuvius leaves in its wake—as engaging in moments as it is dull in others.

This doesn’t seem to be the fault of young actors Kit Harington and Emily Browning, who are both becoming prominent names in show business. Outside of Pompeii, Harington plays the golden boy in HBO’s popular series Game of Thrones while Browning has had her share of disasters in the past, including Zach Snyder’s Sucker Punch. Just as in that film, she does her best with the material. In fact, Harington and Browning are both memorable as star-crossed lovers. Unfortunately, Pompeii’s script really, really should have been all about the volcano.

Instead, we follow Milo (Harington), a boy who becomes a slave after witnessing the deaths of his parents and who later becomes an invincible gladiator in the arena. Eventually, his fighting prowess brings him to Pompeii, where he falls in love with the wealthy daughter of a prominent citizen named Cassia (Browning). When the giant volcano erupts, it is up to Milo to save the girl.

In and of itself, the plot is certainly serviceable for a big box office endeavor. The acting is good, and in some moments the story is completely engaging. Pompeii just doesn’t always take advantage of its biggest strengths. It isn’t violent enough to please the 300 audience and it isn’t epic enough to please the Gravity audience. That doesn’t make it the disaster of the century, but it doesn’t make it newsworthy, either.

You can order Pompeii over at Amazon.

Best Special Feature:
Clearly Pompeii is Sony’s big home entertainment release this week. Not only is there a 3D option for the flick, the set comes with plenty of bonus features for fans. Of these, there are a ton of deleted scenes that add even more backstory to the narrative. Among these is a shot of Milo and Cassia having some fun on the back of a horse, etc. Not all the scenes are finished, but most are worth a watch.

Other Bonus Features:
Filmmakers’ Commentary
"The Assembly—Cast and Characters"
"The Volcanic Eruption—Special Effects"
2D Deleted & Alternate Scenes
"The Gladiators—Stunts"
"The Journey—Production Design"
"The Costume Shop—Costume Design"
Pompeii: Buried In Time Behind The Scenes
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