‘Pompeii’ Review

https://i0.wp.com/sideonetrackone.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Pompeii-2014-Movie-Poster1.jpg

Dir: Paul W.S. Anderson

Cast: Kit Harington, Emily Browning, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jessica Lucas, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jared Harris and Kiefer Sutherland

Synopsis:. A slave-turned-gladiator finds himself in a race against time to save his true love, who has been betrothed to a corrupt Roman Senator. As Mount Vesuvius erupts, he must fight to save his beloved as Pompeii crumbles around him

 

*Reviewer Note:  This is a spoiler free review as always.*

 

Pompeii isn’t necessarily based on a true story but it is based on the historical event of Mount Vesuvius erupting and basically destroying the city of Pompeii and its citizens.  Director Paul W.S. Anderson (The Resident Evil Franchise) takes this historical event and makes it a backdrop to his love story and gladiator movie.

The movie follows Milo (Harington aka Jon Snow), who as a boy watched his family and village get murdered by Romans lead by Roman senator Corvus (Sutherland).  Being the only survivor, he gets taken and is raised into slavery in Britannia where he fights as a gladiator under the name “The Celt.”  Milo is then shipped off to Pompeii where he will fight in the arena against the prized gladiator Atticus (Akinnuoye-Agbaje) for the seaside town’s wealthy citizens.

Along the way, Milo meets Cassia (Browning), the daughter of a wealthy, politically-minded Pompeii merchant (Harris) who wants his city to be a great one.  Cassia returns to her home of Pompeii after being in Rome for over a year.  Unbeknownst to her, her father has invited some people from Rome to help him improve his city. Leading the Roman visitors is Corvus, who has had some encounters with Cassia in Rome.  During all this, Mount Vesuvius is slowly ready to blow

The movie isn’t really that bad.  It takes elements from some other movies like Gladiator and Titanic, but it does try to be its own thing. The love plot is what drives the story of Milo and Cassia but even with their brief encounters, their story goes into full swing when the mountain erupts.  It’s the gladiator storyline that takes the majority of the movie and actually leads into the destruction of Pompeii.

Harington does a fine job with his first lead-starring role. Harington plays Milo as a man who lets his actions do the talking for him. He has the ability make Milo a killing machine to a man that will give a woman, Cassia, a loving look.  Speaking of Cassia, Emily Browning gives Cassia some likeable traits but still ends up becoming the damsel-in-distress. Her parent actors Harris and Carrie-Anne Moss don’t really serve the movie much expect for moving the political aspect of the movie, which is literally about ten minutes.  Jessica Lucas pops up as Cassis’s friend/handmaiden as well but, again, doesn’t do much.

Next to Harington, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s Atticus shares the most screen time where he serves as a rival turned friend and gladiator looking for his freedom. Dare I say, he might be the fan favorite by the end.  Kiefer Sutherland’s villain chews up his scenes and is just bad for almost no reason, but it’s Sutherland so I was okay with it.

But, the big thing the movie pushes for is the destruction of Pompeii, and for those wondering if the movie is going to push the destruction until the very end you’ll be happy to know the volcano erupts around the midway point of the movie.  Some of the volcanic destruction set-pieces are impressive, but some just fall flat.

All in all, Pompeii isn’t that original but will probably still manage to at least keep you entertained until the very end. Beside the volcanic eruption that we wait for, the gladiator aspect of the film is probably the highlight of the movie.

 

Pompeii

3 out of 5

‘Evil Dead’ Review

evil_dead

Dir: Fede Alvarez (short film Panic Attack)

Cast: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, and Elizabeth Blackmore

Synopsis: Five friends head to a remote cabin, where the discovery of a Book of the Dead leads them to unwittingly summon up demons living in the nearby woods. The evil presence possesses them until only one is left to fight for survival

Before I get into the review I want to get this out. Please try to see this with a neutral mindset. Yes, it is a remake/reboot of Sam Raimi’s classic Evil Dead film. I know the “hardcore fans” have been down talking the movie, which is fair since most remakes/reboots don’t tend to be all that good, but if you try to at least put aside what made Raimi’s Evil Dead great and know this is not trying to be that but it’s own thing then you will enjoy it, trust me. Last bit, if you seen the trailers then you know what you’re walking into somewhat so please don’t complain like A LOT of people are doing AND the movie is produced by Sami Raimi and Bruce Campbell so it’s not like they did to cash on the name and make more money. Alright onward to the review.

The beginning of the movie really kicks things off and pretty much lays out how the rest of the movie will go tone and horror wise with characters that we won’t see for the rest of the movie. From there we are introduced to our characters that are there to help one of their friends, Mia (Levy) who has a drug problem. Among the friends are Eric (Pucci), Olivia (Lucas), Natalie (Blackmore) and her estranged brother David (Fernandez).

While Mia is confronting her own horrors of withdrawal, her friends find the cellar filled with some very unpleasant things but also find a mysterious book which is in a trash bag wrapped in barbed wire (which really should be a sign). While the group deals with Mia’s withdrawal symptoms, Eric is fascinated by the idea of the book and of course reads from it despite the warnings. Once he reads it we see the familiar “demon POV speeding through the woods” shot and from this point is when start to see the Evil Dead we know, or at least some of it.

The evil, if that’s what you want to call, does all that it can make sure that no one leaves the cabin and of course starts to posses and kill the people in the cabin. The movie does have a similar structure to Raimi’s and embraces them with sounds, imagery and even some dialogue. If you are said hardcore fan I’m sure you can even find some “Easter eggs/homage” in the background. It even plays with the audience a bit knowing that they are looking for things or even specific scenes from the original to be in there.

Obviously I don’t want to give too much away but needless to say this movie is almost different and similar to the original. The movie does focus a bit more on the characters like Mia, Lou Taylor Pucci’s Eric and David. But let’s face it, the read star of the movie is the horror and boy there is a good chuck of it. The movie hardly gives you a break from the horror and the tremendous amount of blood (apparently there was over 50,000 gallons used in the movie!). The gore might throw some people off and it is definitely cringe worthy most of time, although you can also thank the movie for using practical effects over CG for the majority of the movie. 

The movie does lose some momentum at times especially nearing the movies last act but that last act really reels you back in and dare I almost makes the movie. Director Fede Alvarez does a great job of creating his own story and themes but also while keeping the essence of what made Raimi’s movie a favorite almost fans.

All in all, Evil Dead is a cringe-worthy bloody good time that I think hardcore fans can enjoy if they accept the fact that this is not trying to replace Raimi’s version but its trying to be a part of it. The movie does turn the creepy factor on high and if you like gallons of blood this is the movie for you. Also, if you like, stay after the credits for something small.

Evil Dead

4.5 out of 5