Clichés don’t tell whole story of ‘Pompeii’

Cassia (Emily Browning) is a child of privilege and “The Celt” (Kit Harington) is a slave, but class distinctions crumble during Mount Vesuvius’ fierce onslaught in “Pompeii.” (Caitlin Cronenberg/TriStar Pictures/MCT)

Cassia (Emily Browning) is a child of privilege and “The Celt” (Kit Harington) is a slave, but class distinctions crumble during Mount Vesuvius’ fierce onslaught in “Pompeii.” (Caitlin Cronenberg/TriStar Pictures/MCT)

By M. Scott Morris

Daily Journal

My wife hadn’t seen “Pompeii” but she called it “Titanic” with a volcano.

I have to give credit where credit is due because that about sums things up, except for one question: Is it any good?

To that, I’ll say it’s a melodramatic and formulaic movie that still manages a few surprises. This isn’t an example of high art, but it’s an occasionally good ride.

With a movie called “Pompeii,” you know Mount Vesuvius will rumble and spit before unleashing a localized apocalypse on the good guys and the bad.

The movie opens in the outer reaches of the Roman Empire, where “The Celt” (Kit Harington) watches Roman legions destroy his family. He’s forced into slavery, and eventually becomes a ruthless killing machine too good to waste out in the provinces.

On his way to the arena in Pompeii, he meets Cassia (Emily Browning), a fetching child of privilege who appreciates The Celt’s way with horses, among his other attributes.

Though she lives at her parents’ estate and he’s sent to the gladiatorial cages, the attractive young pair still manage to spend time together.

But how can it work? He’s scheduled to fight to the death with a legendary gladiator, and an evil Roman senator (Kiefer Sutherland) has his eyes on Cassia.

If only some game-changing event could happen, then the established order could be turned upside down, giving The Celt and Cassia a fighting chance.

Cue massive, earth-shaking explosions, though they’re not strong enough to force the senator to give up his claim on Cassia. Expect a lot of chasing and fighting, while fire rains down from the sky.

There are too many cliché moments for “Pompeii” to be mistaken for a great movie, but it has good things going for it.

The eruption is a sight to see, with plumes of black ash blocking out the sun and super-heated rocks crashing into the formerly elegant port city. It’s an impressive special effects display, though I’m not sure 3-D adds to the experience.

I give “Pompeii” a C plus.

It’s showing at the Cinemark in Tupelo, as well as Malcos in Oxford, Corinth and Columbus, and Hollywood Premier Cinemas in Starkville.

Look for movie reviews in Scene on Thursdays, and listen each Tuesday morning on Wizard 106.7 between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m.