Pompeii

Kino Lorber

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Back in Crime Richard Kemp (Jean-Hugues Anglade) is a burnt out detective investigating a murder that seems strangely familiar when he’s knocked into a river and left for dead. Instead of dying though he resurfaces to discover he’s traveled back in time by two decades to the beginning of a series of unsolved killings. He attempts to work the case with his future knowledge even as his unaware younger self stumbles along, but he inadvertently makes himself a suspect. This French film’s actual (and preferable) title is The Other Life of Richard Kemp, and that’s the key to the its strength. The murder mystery is just a part of the story as the true focus is Kemp’s opportunity to craft a better, other life for himself with the benefit of hindsight. The killer’s reveal is actually the film’s weakest element while the character work and humanity on display are damn good. [DVD extras: None]

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Kiefer Pompeii

What if I told you that the people of Pompeii had it coming? That the whole city was a moral cesspool and the eruption of Vesuvius was a final judgment on a corrupt society? You would probably object on grounds of basic human decency, and you’d be right. But I’m not the one that thinks so. That would be Hollywood. There aren’t very many movies about the destruction of Pompeii, but the handful that exist share something quite objectively strange. Paul W.S. Anderson‘s fiery dud is only the newest example of this genre, a disaster movie in which the audience is invited to find moral satisfaction in the flames. With Pompeii it isn’t quite so obvious, but I’d argue that’s just because the script is terrible and doesn’t know exactly how to express what it’s going for. You have to look at it in the context of the earlier, more explicitly judgmental Vesuvius flicks to get at the heart of Anderson’s shabby muddle.

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P

For the dozens of people out there who love the Starz series, Spartacus, but just wish it had none of that graphic sex and violence nonsense… have I got a movie for you. Milo is just a boy when he witnesses Roman soldiers slaughter his family and his people in 62 A.D., and seventeen years later the now man-sized Milo (Kit Harington) is a slave turned gladiator known only as The Celt who entertains the empire in backwater arena brawls. The latest stop on his bloody tour is the waterside city of Pompeii, and on the way into town he shares a meet cute over a dying horse with Cassia (Emily Browning), the daughter of some high-ranking Pompeians. Unfortunately for them both, someone else has his eye on Cassia too, and to make matters worse, he’s the same man who led the slaughter of Milo’s people. Oh, and they’re also all living in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius in the days leading up to its devastating eruption. Pompeii wants to be Gladiator meets Volcano with a love story crammed in for good measure, and it succeeds to the degree that it blatantly rips off Gladiator, sets its action around an erupting volcano, and features paper-thin characters who fall in love in their first few minutes together. Director Paul W. S. Anderson‘s latest isn’t a good movie, but it’s also not so bad that it’s ironically good. So that’s unfortunate.

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aboutlastnight1

You’ve seen our preview of our most anticipated movies of 2014. Now put away those expectations for a bit and be patient, because it’s homework time. As you may know, each weekend I offer some recommendations for movies, both well-known and obscure, to see after you’ve watched that latest hot new release. I’ll be continuing this feature into the new year, so you can look forward to adding more to your backlog queue with titles tied to everything from The Legend of Hercules to Night at the Museum 3. First, though, I want to get a jump on some of the most obvious movies of the past related to the upcoming movies of the near future. These are primarily the original works receiving remakes in the first half of 2014 — or older works based on the same stories. And as usual, some are more popular and familiar than others. Couldn’t you just skip the old versions and go blindly into the new as if it’s a fresh property? Of course, and you can keep on listening to cover songs, too. And always see the movie instead of reading a book. However, if you’re interested in knowing your history and also being able to judge something with proper awareness of what came before, whether you want to make comparisons or not, read ahead and prepare yourself for the next six months of moviegoing.

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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.

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Pompeii

One of the best things about Paul W.S. Anderson‘s Three Musketeers trailer was that ridiculous gatling gun, so if he was willing to bring that kind of tech to 17th century, why not offer it up to the 1st? The weapons of Pompeii are all swords and fire, but maybe he’s saving the heavy anachronistic artillery for later. We can only hope. Also curiously missing is Milla Jovovich flipping around and kicking people. It hardly looks like an Anderson movie at all. So what does it have? A bunch of people encased in ash, Emily Browning kissing Kit Harington with gusto and one pissed-off volcano. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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pompeii

Game of Thrones is one of the biggest things on cable today; when Breaking Bad ends in six week’s time it will likely be the biggest thing on cable. Now’s the perfect time for the show’s several hundred cast members to begin peeking their heads out from HBO’s nest and stretch their fledgling wings towards a career that won’t end when Game of Thrones does. Pompeii might not do for Kit Harington what The 40-Year-Old Virgin did for Steve Carell, but at least it’s a start. Directed by Paul W. S. Anderson (known for cinematic treasures like Resident Evil and Alien vs. Predator), Pompeii will star Harrington as Milo, a gladiator forced to fight in the city of Pompeii. He’ll fall in love with co-star Emily Browning, then have to contend with an evil villain (Kiefer Sutherland) and the eruption of Vesuvius, which blanketed the city in nearly twenty feet of solid volcanic ash. With Anderson at the helm, expect the film to have oodles of unnecessary slow-motion and underwhelming 3D. The pic is above, courtesy of EW.

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black:farrell

What is Casting Couch? A handy way to keep up with what all of your favorite actors are going to be up to in the coming months and years. Does that make you a stalker? Today we’ve got word on who’s the latest name to join George Clooney in Brad Bird’s mysterious Tomorrowland. Few things in the world are funnier than Jack Black kicking Will Ferrell’s dog off of a bridge, that much is certain. But take the hilarious animal cruelty out of the equation and would these two A-list comedians still be able to produce laughs together? We’re about to find out, because THR is reporting that New Line is putting together a comedy called Tag, which has them attached as co-stars. The basic story of the film comes from a “Wall Street Journal” article about ten classmates from a Washington prep school, now all in their 40s, who get together one month out of the year to play an elaborate game of tag. This conceit, of course, is just the sort of manchild nonsense that these two should be able to knock out of the park, as long as they get a script everyone likes and the thing actually comes together.

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Pompeii

Who wants to see an overly CGI’ed version of a volcano erupting while people in gaudy non-historically accurate togas are covered in ash? If you raised your hand, you should know you’re reading the internet so no one can see you, but it’s probably also a good sign that you’ll love Paul W.S. Anderson‘s next project. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Anderson is set for Pompeii, a retelling of the infamous disaster of 79AD where Mount Vesuvius destroyed two coastal villages, tragically preserving them for archeologists. Game of Thrones co-star Kit Harington will play the lead (a slave trying to save his true love and best friend) in what’s being described as a Titantic-like take on the event, injecting a romantic plot into a story ultimately about mass death. Of course, Anderson is no James Cameron. Still, the idea of making a movie about young love blooming in the face of an ending we will all see coming is an interesting one, and it might come as a great shock to high school movie-goers who haven’t taken that history class yet. It’s just a shame that Anderson is the one at the wheel here. How long until we know which role Milla Jovovich will take?

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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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