Tag Archive: film

Being pretty much obsessed with ancient Rome and especially Pompeii, of course I saw the new movie about the star-crossed city on its opening weekend. The action/adventure film follows Milo (Kit Harington), a gladiator enslaved in Pompeii, as he befriends his fiercest competitor in the arena (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), catches the eye of a rich but sympathetic beauty (Emily Browning), and then finds himself fighting for his life and theirs during the eruption that we all know buried the town in the year 79.

Kit Harington as Milo--the paintings on the arena walls are a nice, historically accurate detail.

Kit Harington as Milo–the paintings on the arena walls are a nice, historically accurate detail.

The director (Paul WS Anderson) is best known for sci-fi horror pics — not usually my thing — so I wasn’t sure the story would appeal to me, but I enjoyed this movie. All three protagonists have integrity and compassion, so you want to see them overcome both the bad guys and the wrath of nature. As a woman and a romance novelist, I would have preferred more emphasis on the realm of Venus than that of Mars, but the romance we get is satisfyingly, if quickly, developed, and so is the “buddy” relationship between the two main male characters.

Having visited the ruins of the real Pompeii, I also loved seeing the amazing town alive again on the big screen. The filmmakers made a good effort to depict the streets, amphitheater and villa interiors in a realistic way. While reading or watching fiction, I’m happy to suspend disbelief over details, but nitpickers will probably find most fault with the way the eruption plays out.

Compared to my new time-travel novel Templum, set in the same time and place, Pompeii has much more violence and much less sex. 🙂 Since Templum is primarily a romance, it follows that the love story in my book is more deeply explored. If you watched the Showtime cable TV series “Spartacus,” well, Pompeii has both less gore and less sex, but more likable characters and more romance. All in all, worth seeing — and best seen in the theater to do justice to the scenery and action sequences.

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Do You Like Gladiator Movies?

Around the time my archaeology mystery The Five-Day-Dig came out, movies about ancient Rome looked like they were about to trend. I heard there was going to be a British miniseries based on Robert Harris’s bestselling novel Pompeii, that HBO planned to update the 1970s series I, Claudius, and that an Italian filmmaker had a Pompeii thriller in the works.

A year later, I haven’t seen any news on those projects, but this recent casting announcement in Variety mentions another film titled Pompeii, this one directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, the guy behind Resident Evil. The story follows Milo, a Pompeian slave, as he tries to save the woman he loves and his best friend during the fateful eruption of Vesuvius that buries the town. Kit Harington, who plays Jon Snow on “Game of Thrones” is in talks to play the lead. According to moviefone.com, Christoph Waltz, Logan Lerman, Ray Stevenson, Milla Jovovich, and Luke Evans are also on tap.

Past Pompeii-centric flicks include at least half-a-dozen versions of the awful The Last Days of Pompeii, based on the novel by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, the same guy who penned the line “It was a dark and stormy night …” Another awful 1960s British series called Up Pompeii centered around a Benny Hill-esque ancient Roman.

To date, the best film ever set in the star-crossed town has to be the trippy, Spinal-Tap-like Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii from 1972. If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend it.

I’m still hoping that Pompeii movies do take off in the near future, because I wrote the first draft of The Five-Day-Dig as a screenplay — and if the right director comes along, I’d be happy to pull it back out and polish it up. 😉

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