Paul W.S. Anderson films aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, and while his Resident Evil movies have done well at the box office, the inconsistent track record for his non-video game adaptations makes this month’s Anderson-helmed release Pompeii something of a risky investment, given the $100 million price tag. That theatrical trailers for the historical adventure have been heavy on melodrama and 2012-esque disaster set pieces clearly designed for 3D, which hasn’t helped win over non-Anderson fans either.
A newly-released Pompeii commercial that will air during the 2014 Super Bowl skimps on the central romance – between gladiator/slave Milo (Game of Thrones‘ Kit Harington) and Roman noblewoman Cassia (Emily Browning) – in favor of gladiators battling and the fight for survival once the infamous Mount Vesuvius meltdown gets underway. Probably a smart move that, given that many of the people who tune in for the football game are going to get more excited by some grandiose action and effects, rather than Titanic-style star-crossed lovers drama.
Speaking personally, I tend to enjoy Anderson’s non-Resident Evil films – including Alien Vs. Predator, Death Race and The Three Musketeers – as the tasty pieces of pop genre entertainment that they’re meant to be. There doesn’t seem to be anything objectionable about the premise for Pompeii, while the 3D filmmaking, solid cast and straight-faced, yet joyful presentation make Anderson’s latest movie look like the kind of fun swords and sandals B-movie that last month’s The Legend of Hercules should’ve been.
Based on a script written by Janet Scott and Lee Batchler (Batman Forever), Michael Robert Johnson (Sherlock Holmes) and Julia Fellowes (Downton Abbey), Pompeii features a supporting cast that includes Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix trilogy), Kiefer Sutherland (24), Jared Harris (Mad Men), Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Lost) and Jessica Lucas (That Awkward Moment).
Pompeii opens in 2D and 3D theaters on February 21st, 2014.