Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
'The Celt' (Harington) is a gladiator, captured as a child by the Roman Senator Corvus (Sutherland) during the quell of the Icenii in Britain. Brought to Pompeii to fight at their games, he encounters Cassia (Browning), a noblewoman reluctantly betrothed to Corvus, who takes a shine to him. The senator, enraged by her favour of the slave, attempts to rig a gladiator fight to have him killed, but as The Celt slaughters his opponents in the arena, Mount Vesuvius erupts just above the city.
Anderson attempts to make up for his inability to create a community by inserting sweeping CGI vistas of recreations of the city, but while that might have worked with the pomp and grandeur of Rome in Gladiator, this over-compensation leads more toward the realisation that Pompeii actually wasn't that big... Beyond the gladiator arena and Cassia's villa, you see very little more of the town and without people you recognise dying or places we've seen being destroyed, the swathe of destruction in the final act feels like the bombings in Pearl Harbour; disconnected, and alienated from the rest of the plot, except Pompeii is shorter and a lot less impressive. And a comparison to Pearl Harbour can never be a good thing.
The film I always dreamed of seeing has been made and it ticked the disaster movie box and the Roman epic box with accessible aplomb. But like any film, if there is no heart or substance behind it, it can never sputter past mere pulp fiction. As a thrill-ride, it's entertaining, but above that, we'll have to let the ash settle and hope for a second attempt at a cinematic Pompeii sometime within our lifetimes.