POMPEII

One of the best things about this not-quite-what-you-think-its-gonna-be movie is its co-star’s real name: Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. (Remember back when we prided ourselves in mastering Gabourey Sidibe?) As for Adewale himself, his acting is as atrocious as everyone else’s in this mostly-dull-but-kindve-fun piece of cheese. The title and plot lead you to believe this’ll be a disaster movie. But you’ll blow your top before Vesuvius does, because it takes a geologic eon to get to the eruption. First we have to watch, like, 40 gladiator battles. See, it’s actually a sword-and-sandals picture, with a dash (or an ash) of disaster thrown in at the end when the volcano erupts and everybody (yeah, it’s a spoiler, so cover me in lava) dies. The final sequence is a lengthy crush-fest well enough done not to be laughable, but unremarkable. You get your money’s worth, but the director’s heart seems to lean to the metal clink of weapons and the blood of open combat. Tobacco store Indians are more expressive than the cast. With his Mr. Peabody voice and paycheck performance, Kiefer Sutherland will want to keep this one off his resume. And Jared Harris, who made us wish he hadn’t hanged himself in “Mad Men”, is barely there here. The love story/catastrophe intertwining has a real TITANIC-y feel, but Kit Harrington ain’t Leo and Emily Browning ain’t Kate. But I have to say I enjoyed some of it, at least for nostalgia’s sake, because this is the kind of movie (with less gore) that we used to go see on Saturdays at the Encino Theater. — Jeff Schultz

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