The film focuses on two young people, both from very different backgrounds, yet both struggling for some level of control over their own lives. There's Milo (Kit Harington, Game of Thrones and Silent Hill: Revelation), known mainly as The Celt, a gladiator slave whose entire family and village was demolished by the Romans, led by a young military leader named Corvus (Kiefer Sutherland, 24) some 17 years before. He is a fierce fighter whose fame in the arena has caused his owner to bring him, along with a group of other slaves, to Pompeii for a great feast that will occur during the visit of the now Senator Corvus from Rome.
Then there's Cassia (Emily Browning, Sucker Punch), who is returning to her home in Pompeii after an extended stay in Rome. She is the daughter of Pompeii's local leader, Severus (Jared Harris) and a very headstrong, intelligent and forward-thinking young woman, much like her mother, Aurelia (Carrie-Anne Moss). Unfortunately for Cassia, she has caught the eye of the ruthless Senator Corvus and he has followed her to Pompeii, determined to have her as his wife, regardless of her feelings on the matter.
By chance, she and Milo meet on the way as he impresses her with his ability to handle horses when an accident occurs and, from then on, the two are drawn to each other. This is unfortunate, as Milo is slated to fight the most powerful gladiator in the group, Atticus (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Lost), a man who is slated to win his freedom as soon as he wins his next fight.
As Severus works to get approval for his city's redesign project from Rome via Senator Corvus, Milo and Atticus are just struggling to stay alive. As the feast builds to a crescendo, a grand series of gladiatorial battles is staged in Pompeii's arena, even as the mountain rumbles beneath them. Soon the battles that are playing out in the arena will be incomparable to the attack from Mother Nature as the citizens of Pompeii are bombarded by an earthquake, a tsunami, raining hail of fire and rock, and a pyroclastic blast of lava that will send them all running for their lives. Does the ill-fated love between Milo and Cassia even stand a chance? The ride to find out is certainly an action-packed one as the epic struggle between good and evil rages on between Milo and Corvus, while the city crumbles all around them.
While Pompeii is certainly not a straight-up romance, there's a beautiful love story interspersed with the fantastic action sequences, brutal fight scenes and a really interesting storyline of political manipulation.
The special features included a slew of deleted and alternate scenes that flesh out the story a good bit more. There are also several featurettes that cover everything from the stunts to the costumes to the history of Pompeii itself. I love disaster movies in general, and the fact that what occurred in Pompeii truly happened makes it all the more interesting. The city itself was well preserved by the layers of ash and this provided a perfect template for the filmmakers as they strove to be as historically accurate as possible in the lavish costumes, lush decor, and bustling streets of Pompeii.
If you are looking for a gorgeously shot action/disaster movie with some incredible actors, check out Pompeii. The cast is terrific, the action is intense, and you already know how it ends... or do you?