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.
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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.
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The Hell's Kitchen star has weathered a trying 18 months, during which he fell out with his relatives and became embroiled in a legal battle with his father-in-law Chris Hutcheson, who he fired as chief executive of his restaurant empire.
Ramsay has now put the family feud behind him, and he's heaped praise on the Beckhams for standing by him during his darkest moments.
He tells Britain's Daily Mirror, "David and Victoria were just extraordinary in terms of the help and support during this time.
"They really were great. People thought we were going to escape the U.K. and go and live in L.A. permanently. But I'm a fighter and there was no chance of me giving up and going there... My company was on the verge of going bankrupt and nobody was really focusing. I thought, 'I am going to save this company. This is it.'"
The British cook also admits the hardships he faced have made his relationship with wife Tana stronger than ever.
He adds, "There was no doubt it was a personal blow for me and I felt let down by many people. But you regroup and come back. Tana and I have never been so close before."
The British chef has endured a turbulent 2010 which has seen his business empire struggling to recover from serious financial problems and hit with numerous lawsuits over allegedly unpaid bills and massive tax demands.
Ramsay also fell out with his wife's father Chris Hutcheson after the businessman left his post as CEO of Gordon Ramsay Holdings (GRH). Hutcheson is now suing his son-in-law for $3 million (£2 million) and the family feud has played out in the press.
But the star is refusing to let his recent family and business troubles affect his fun festive season - he and his wife Tana put on a united front by hosting a lavish dinner party at their London home this week (beg20Dec10),
Guests included the Beckhams, singer Bunton and her partner Jade Jones, and British funnyman James Corden and his pregnant girlfriend Julia Carey.
Pest control officers were called to the TV chef's Maze Grill eaterie after diners spotted a rodent scurrying under a table, hotly pursued by worried staff.
Diner David Moreton says, "It was extraordinary to think a mouse was loose in one of London's best restaurants. My wife can't stand them and was absolutely terrified. It totally ruined her night."
A spokesperson for Gordon Ramsay Holdings Ltd explains, "We have apologised. Pest controllers have since given us a clean bill of health."
It's the latest setback for the Hell's Kitchen star - last week (ends24Oct10) his father-in-law Chris Hutcheson stepped down as CEO of Ramsay's business empire.
The chef was also dealt another blow in August (10) when he received three outstanding U.S. tax bills, with one totalling $484,500 (£323,000).
Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector opens with a man scratching his plumber’s-crack re-using a cotton swab to clean his ear and wearing the sleeveless shirt he uses as a towel. Naturally this is Larry (the Cable Guy) a health inspector. Halfheartedly inspecting the local food joints he’s leading the life that suits him well. But when his boss (Thomas F. Wilson) assigns him a serious-minded female partner (Iris Bahr) his world is turned upside down--or at least made less comfy. Larry’s called in to investigate “some fartin’ Jewish folks” at a swankier restaurant and learns that it’s not an isolated incident. While Larry’s unorthodox methods manage to arouse the interest of a waitress (Megyn Price) with bowel habits that he adores his tactics arouse the ire of the restaurateurs he investigates and it costs him his job. Now he’s forced to do whatever it takes to prove his innocence. Even the D-listers here must’ve gone straight to confession upon accepting these roles to help cushion their bank accounts. Let’s start with Larry the Cable Guy (of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour “Git-R-Done” fame) who is one of the most successful stand-up comics today. He’s right in his element seemingly with fart blanche on toilet humor but to the unconverted he’s a little more than grating. Speaking of grating the (hopefully) affected voice of Bahr makes the movie mostly unlistenable in addition to being unwatchable. But take pity on her for this is no way to jumpstart a movie career. Tony Hale clearly still reeling from the potential cancellation of TV’s Arrested Development (on which he plays Buster) also lowers his star and integrity with an ambiguous character here. And Joe Pantoliano shows his face. The once great character actor reaches a new low with this one even if his performance isn’t all bad. Health Inspector masters the art of the fart. But more disgusting than the settings with which the farts are juxtaposed is the ad nauseam (pun intended) level of over-usage. So congratulations go to along with fart Yoda Larry the Cable Guy director Trent Cooper who makes his feature directorial debut. And might we add what a fart-tastic debut it is! But it’s not all farts ladies and gentleman--all forms of gross-out humor are exploited unlike ever before. On the er serious side the collection of running jokes adds to a few legit laughs. Cooper helms a story that naturally doesn’t work deferring instead to Larry’s natural um charisma. The script offers no segue into Larry’s stand-up persona but anyone who sees this here flick ain’t lookin’ for no dang Oscar winner. Clearly Health Inspector will appeal to Larry’s following but is not meant for those of sound mind.