Pompeii

In the list of things Jon Snow knows nothing about, we can add “how volcanoes work” to the mix. In the story of the doomed city at the foot of the mountain, Kit Harington is the dashing hero who must swoop in to save his love (Emily Browning) and his gladiator friend trapped in the coliseum when Mount Vesuvius starts spewing.

Because nothing says “a romance for the ages” like a ferocious natural disaster that claimed the lives of approximately 16,000 people in a scorching, merciless death (seriously, the eruption caused Pompeii’s citizens to “flash-heat” in an instant when a volcanic surge caused temperatures to reach 570°F), Paul W.S. Anderson‘s Pompeii will hopefully focus less on the kissin’ and more on the fleeing.

Harington isn’t playing some Roman nobody, either. In a Gladiator-esque move, he’s a slave who’s spent the last few years fighting for the amusement of the wealthy class while pining for Browning. Of course nobody believes he’ll amount to anything. Of course nobody pays him any attention when he starts getting antsy about the rumbling mountain looming over their town. Well, he clearly shows them when he’s crashing in with his sword and armor to dodge fireballs and save the day.

The question is whether or not he’ll actually do it. Though it’s not certain how many people actually survived the blast, there is only one known eye witness to the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius: Pliny the Younger, a young man who wrote a painstaking account of the entire incident, detailing the eruption from the moments of the mountain’s first growling to the detruction of the town and its people caught in the volcano’s path. It’s possible that Harington could be playing Pliny, acting as the wisened, elderly, disembodied voice in the trailer, recounting the horrific events of the great disaster of his youth to a new generation.

If surviving as the Pliny-character, that means he’s going to be using his gladiator skills to fight his way out of this disaster in the most macho way possible (you don’t think Anderson would really make this devoid of all Mortal Kombat vibes, do you?); how does someone win a fight when their enemy is a volcano? Granted, the other more morbid and probably more realistic fate for Harington is to perish in the haze of fire and pumice that rains down upon the city, forever plastered in ash. That scenario has less fireball-dodging, though.

The visually beautiful, but kind of “dramatic production that might play at the Natural History Museum before we have to take this field trip tour of some Pompeii ruin replicas” looking film is just one of the sandal dramas we’re being delighted with in the coming months. Lest we forget, 300: Rise of an Empire, Hercules: The Legend Begins and another untitled Hercules project are all hitting theaters in 2014. If you’d like to count the slew of Bible epics in that category, we have Noah, Exodus, and Gods and Kings, among others.

Nothing like the overhanging threat of death and destruction to get the people moving.

Pompeii is in theaters February 21, 2014.


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