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'Pompeii' Offers The Same Old Story, With Killer Production Values


The final half hour or so of Pompeii should satisfy everybody-- it even satisfied me.

I’m sure a lot of it was computer graphics and miniaturization, but it didn’t look like computer graphics and miniaturization, with every individual running down the streets looking like an individual and fires bursting out under the cover of the trees. Huge black clouds of dirt and soot blossomed like cauliflowers, the earth cracked open and buildings and people and vehicles realistically tumbled in, while indoors, ceilings cracked and showered dust before they gave way and smashed down altogether, and outdoors a tsunami hit the beach and swept away everything as it roared onto shore.

Meanwhile, remnants of plot popped in and out like popcorn popping.

Unfortunately, until that last half hour, Pompeii offers little but repetition, of plots and characters overfamiliar from better movies.

Our hero is the usual supergladiator who practically ranks with comic-book supermen, but who encounters the age-old conflict of making friends with the fellow gladiator he will later be called upon to kill.

The princess, or whatever her title was, sees him fight and take a whipping without a squeal, and of course falls in love with him, while he gazes at her with the usual blank look. And the vile aristocrat drools over her and plots to take over the kingdom.

There is little to distinguish Pompeii from Rome, and there are two parallel revenge plots, one per hero.

It’s the old story one more time: with more attention to plot and character, Pompeii could maybe have lived up to its production values.