Starring: Kit Harington, Emily Browning, Kiefer Sutherland
Directed by: Paul W.S. Anderson (“Resident Evil”)
Written by: Janet Scott Batchler (“Batman Forever”), Lee Batchler (“Batman Forever”) and Michael Robert Johnson (“Sherlock Holmes”)
Part gladiator soap opera, part SyFy channel disaster movie, the infinitely silly period action flick “Pompeii” might fit into director Paul W.S. Anderson’s wheelhouse perfectly, but after an almost 20-year career of building a filmography only a mother (or Milla Jovovich) could love, it’s probably time Anderson fully realized he’s one of the dullest tools in the shed.
Of course, that doesn’t mean Anderson should stop making movies per se (“Resident Evil 6” is currently in pre-production). He still somehow has an audience who forgave him a long time ago for “Mortal Kombat” and “Alien vs. Predator.” It’s a good thing most of them probably didn’t see the mess he made out of “The Three Musketeers” tale in 2011. This time, Anderson takes his lack of cinematic storytelling to ancient Rome, specifically the legendary city of Pompeii, which, in 79 AD, was buried under a wave of ash when the nearby volcano Mount Vesuvius erupted.
In Anderson’s “Pompeii,” the director of “Event Horizon” sloppily sticks in a love story between Milo (Kit Harington), a slave-turned- gladiator, and Cassia (Emiliy Browning), the daughter of a wealthy merchant who has caught the eye of the vicious Roman Senator Corvus (Kiefer Sutherland, chewing up scenes like a madman). Aside from the atrocious dialogue and gladiator-movie clichés, “Pompeii” tries to hang its toga on the third act of the film where CGI-heavy scenes abound and Anderson, based on his past work, is probably the most comfortable.
It’ll take a lot more than a few flaming lava rocks and swooning between layers of smog to pull “Pompeii” out of the trenches, however. It’s another haphazard effort by Anderson, who just hasn’t figured out a way to make anything you can remember then next morning. Maybe it’ll take him another 20 years, but until then, at least he’s finding semi-interesting ways for wife Jovovich to kill the undead. They’ll always have Raccoon City.