DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Pompeii, Blu-ray 3D (2014)

Great EFX in 3D. Forgettable Story.

Published on May 24, 2014

Pompeii, Blu-ray 3D (2014)

Pompeii, Blu-ray 3D (2014)

Cast: Kit Harington, Emily Browning, Keifer Sutherland, Carrie-Anne Moss
Studio: Sony Pictures 43631 [5/20/14] (2 Blu-rays)
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Video: 2.40:1 anamorphic/enhanced for 16:9 3D & standard Blu-ray
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
Extras: (Trailer on 3D Blu-ray, Commentary track by director; 20 deleted scenes, Several featurettes (on standard DVD)
Length: 105 min.
Rating: ***   EFX & SFX: *****

The feature Pompeii 3D is visually exciting with great sound. Beyond that it is a sort of a Gladiator meets Titanic meets 2012.

Directed by Paul W. S. Anderson (Resident Evil) [absolutely no relation to the other director named Anderson…Ed.], the film is a special effects romp with rather weak characters and an off-putting love interest. For the first 2/3 of the movie we get some quick glimpses of Mt. Vesuvius bubbling away ominously. While that happens, we get the usual story of gladiators, some politics with a sleazy senator played by Kiefer Sutherland, and a romantic subplot that is of virtually no interest. Sutherland struggles with his British accent, but I still am seeing Jack Bauer from 24. [But it’s interesting to see him doing a villain for a change…Ed.]

The script is full of cliches taken from other disaster movies, while we wait patiently for the B I G  E X P L O S I O N. And it is a whopper. The 3D screen comes alive with burring cinders, destructive fireballs, and Pompeii residents running for the hills. Wait. The only hills are toward Vesuvius. No matter. Like other movies from Anderson, the effects are quite good, and over the years computerized water has gotten more and more realistic looking (which he talks about in the extras), so the tidal wave looks great on screen.

Anderson is not a believer in 3D conversions, so the film was shot in native 3D. The film really looks terrific, with seamless CGI and believable destruction. I’m not sure if real volcanoes throw out fireballs as shown in the film, but they look great on camera as they hurtle toward us and the residents of Pompeii in 3D. Also the ash and particles in the air, which show up great in 3D.

Like the 3D, the 5.1 audio on the Blu-ray disc is exemplary. The low moans of the volcano, the terrified crowds, and the final explosion are room shaking but never out of control. You will feel immersed in this surround track, and it is a complete success.

Pompeii is not a great movie. It’s a popcorn flick. The bad guys and the good guys overact. But technically, the film is a pleasure. If you have a 3D setup and want to entertain your neighbors, Pompeii is the perfect flick. It’s not history, but it is good mindless fun. The disc has plenty of extras, including deleted scenes, featurettes, and commentary. [These is some actual history in the extras and some interesting details will be new to many…Ed.]

I enjoyed the film, even though it was an effects extravaganza and not more.

—Mel Martin 




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