Pompeii 3D review

Director Paul W.S. Anderson takes a break from zombies and mutants for this historical disaster movie recounting the destruction of the titular Roman city. Thrust into the heart of this volcanic maelstrom are slave/gladiator/horse whisperer Milo (Kit Harrington) and Cassia (Emily Browning) the young noble woman whose eye he catches.

When it comes to scenes of gladiatorial action and epic destruction, Pompeii really delivers the goods. Unfortunately, the journey there is rather less exciting, with Anderson once again showcasing his tin ear for dialogue and inability to engage with characters on any level that doesn't involve people trying to kill one another. So, while Milo works as part of a likeable double-team with fellow gladiator Atticus (Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje), there's zero chemistry between him and Cassia, robbing the film of the emotional spine that is supposed to hold it all together. And don't even get us started on Kiefer Sutherland's frankly bizarre performance as the villain of the piece.

In other words, Pompeii is a film of two halves. The first is a terrible love story with some gladiatorial fights, the other the epic disaster movie we were promised. Only you can decide whether it's worth persevering with the former to get to the latter.

Picture: Whatever his other shortcomings as a filmmaker, with two Resident Evils, The Three Musketeers and now Pompeii under his belt, Anderson is one of the most experienced practitioners of 3D cinema working in Hollywood today. This latest film continues to demonstrate that few other directors have such an innate understanding of the possibilities of the form. From twisting tree branches to clouds of ash drifting through the air, almost every single frame of the Blu-ray's MVC 2.40:1 1080p encode boasts a convincing sense of three-dimensional space.

The 'flat' AVC 2.40:1 1080p 2D presentation is just as impressive from a technical point of view – even if it lacks a little of the 3D version's wow-factor. Colours pop from the screen, black levels are solid and the faultless clarity of the image ensures that detailing is meticulous. Awesome.
Picture rating: 5/5

Audio: Pompeii's DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack builds an immersive soundstage with its atmospheric effects, clear dialogue and rich music presentation. Naturally, thing start to heat up from Chapter 9 onwards when Vesuvius erupts. From this point on you're in traditional disaster flick territory, and the sound design demos some precise steering, potent dynamics and room-rumbling LFE.
Audio rating: 5/5

Extras: The first extra is a commentary from Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt. The pair are old hands at this now, and provide an effortless guide to the making of the film and its historical background. Also on offer are 20 deleted scenes, six short featurettes focusing on specific aspects of the production (cast, set design, costumes, visual effects, gladiator training and weapons), and a more general 24-minute Making of… documentary.

Unusually the full array of extras is replicated on the set's 2D and 3D platters.
Extras rating: 3/5

We say: Not as much fun as its Gladiator-meets-Earthquake concept suggests, but still worth a rent at least

Pompeii 3D, Entertainment One, Region B BD, £25 Approx