TriStar Pictures via Everett Collection
An hour and change into Pompeii, there's a volcano. You'd think there might have been a volcano throughout — you'd think that the folks inhabiting the ill-fated Italian village would have been dealing with the infamous volcano for the full 110 minutes. After all, volcano movies have worked before. Volcano, for instance. And the other one. But for some reason, Pompeii feels the need to stuff its first three quarters with coliseum battles, Ancient Rome politics, unlikely friendships, and a love story. But we don’t care. We can't care. None of it warrants our care. Where the hell is the volcano, already?
To answer that: it's off to the side — rumbling. Smoking. Occasionally spiking the neighboring community with geological fissures or architectural misgivings. Pretty much executing every trick picked up in Ominous Foreshadowing 101, but never joining the story. Not until Paul W.S. Anderson shouts, "Last call," hitting us with a final 20-odd minutes of unmitigated disaster (in a good way). If you've managed to maintain a waking pulse throughout the lecture in sawdust that is Pompeii's story, then you might actually have a good time with the closing sequence. It has everything you’d expect — everything you had been expecting! — and delivers it with gusto. Torpedoes of smoke running hordes of idiot villagers out of their homes and toward whatever safety the notion of forward has to offer. Long undeveloped characters rising to the occasion to rescue hapless princesses who thought it might be a good idea to set their vacation homes at the foot of a lava-spewing mountain. The whole ordeal is actually a lot of laughs. But it amounts to a dessert just barely worth the tasteless dinner we had to force down to get there.
TriStar Pictures via Everett Collection
To get through the bulk of Pompeii, we recommend focusing all your attentions away from the effectively bland slave/gladiator/hero Kit Harington — sorry, Jon Snow (he's actually called a bastard at one point) — and onto his partner in crime: a scowling Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje — sorry, Mr. Eko (he and Snow actually trade valedictions by saying "I'll see you at another time, brother" at one point) — who warms up to his fellow prize fighter during their shared time in the klink, and delivers his moronic material with a sprinkle of flair. Keeping the working man down is Kiefer Sutherland — sorry, Jack Bauer — as an ostentatious Roman senator, doling out vainglory in Basil Fawlty-sized portions. When he's not spitting scowls at peasants, ol' JB is undermining the efforts of an earnest local governor Jared Harris — sorry, Lane Pryce (he actually calls someone a mad man at one point) — and his wife Carrie-Anne Moss — sorry, Katherine O'Connell from Vegas (joking! Trinity) — and finagling the douchiest marriage proposal ever toward their daughter Emily Browning — sorry, but I have no idea what she's from.
But questionable television references and some enjoyably daft performances by Eko and Jack can't really make up for the heft of mindless dullness that Pompeii passes off as its narrative... until the big showstopper.
The best player in the World for movie trailers, Hollywood interviews and movie clips.
In truth, the last sequence is a gem. It's fun, inviting, and energizing, and might even call into question the possibility that Pompeii is all about how futile life, love, friendship, politics, and pride are when even the most egregiously complicated of plots can be taken out in the end by a sudden volcanic eruption. But you have to wade through that egregious complication to get there, and you shouldn't expect to have too much of a good time doing so.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter
| Follow @Hollywood_com
Ever since November's spellbinding mid-season finale of The Secret Circle, fans have been dying to learn the identity of dark magic master John Blackwell's second "circle" child. And let's get real here: You, me, and everyone's mother thought it would be the delightfully witchy Faye -- including poor Faye herself. When last week's episode revealed that it was the sweet-natured Diana who was Cassie's long-lost half-sibling, fans were left reeling. How would Diana, who was recently planning to leave the circle, adjust to this news? Would she try to access her dark powers?
The synopsis of May 10th's finale has finally been released, and it's a doozy -- John Blackwell tells Cassie and Diana that the only way to save the recently-attacked Faye is to access their deepest, darkest magic to unleash the "Crystal Skull." Cassie will need the reluctant Diana's help to defeat the Witch Hunters once and for all, but convincing her will not be easy. Hollywood.com spoke to Ms. Diana herself, Shelley Hennig, to get the scoop on what's ahead.
Even though Hennig was the last person to know that she was the second Blackwell child, she claims that once she found out, it made perfect sense. "It explains why [Cassie was] the first person she ran to after her and Adam broke up," she said. "I remember shooting that, going, 'Oh my God, this is strange. Why would Diana go to Cassie?' When I heard that we were [making Diana Cassie's sister], I was like, 'Oh, that really makes sense.' I expect Diana to feel closer to Cassie because of that."
This doesn't mean that they'll immediately become family. "It definitely creates a new dynamic between the two, but I don't think Diana is extremely happy about it," Hennig said. "Because, let's face it -- that means Charles isn't her father. Here's another thing added to turn Diana's life upside down. I don't know if she wants to be Cassie's sister."
Thankfully, fans won't have to wait very long to hear Charles' side of the story. "She confronts Charles, because she doesn't necessarily believe it," Hennig said. "Diana goes to Charles, the only person who she thinks could tell her the honest truth. Then they have to deal with that. It's a really great scene; it changes the dynamic between Charles and Diana."
Diana will also have to deal with a third changing dynamic: The one she has with Faye. Before Faye is attacked, she is openly hostile towards Diana, as she actually wanted to be the Blackwell child. "Faye is definitely jealous," Hennig said. "You'll see it. She's really not happy about it." But Hennig explained that it isn't all about the magic. "I think besides just being jealous, she didn't know her father that well," she said. "We were young when all of our parents died, so to know that someone who is living may be your father may actually be cooler. You can start over. I think she's looking to fill that void."
Cassie has started to fill her fatherly void, but Hennig said that Blackwell's motivations may not be so innocent. "Cassie and Diana have to work together to get the Black Crystal," she said. "We realize that John Blackwell's intentions may not be what Cassie thought his intentions were, and it could be a threat to the circle. They have to deal with that. I don't think Diana thinks John Blackwell is trustworthy."
Watch The Secret Circle tonight at 9 p.m., and be sure to check out The CW's brand new, interactive Secret Circle app!
Follow Shaunna on Twitter @HWShaunna
[Image Credit: The CW]