Pompeii (2014)

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Released 23-Jul-2014

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Adventure Audio Commentary-Director Paul Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt
Deleted Scenes-x 20
Featurette-Making Of-The Assembly (6:55)
Featurette-Making Of-The Journey (7:20)
Featurette-Making Of-The Costume Shop (6:34)
Featurette-Making Of-The Volcanic Eruption (6:48)
Featurette-Making Of-The Gladiators (6:07)
Featurette-Making Of-The Weapons of Pompeii (4:03)
Featurette-Making Of-Pompeii : Buried in Time (23:07)
Trailer-Belle and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2014
Running Time 100:07
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Paul W.S. Anderson
Icon Entertainment Starring Kit Harrington
Emily Browning
Keifer Sutherland
Jared Harris
Carrie-Anne Moss
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
Sacha Roiz
Case ?
RPI ? Music Clinton Shorter

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     It is just before the famous eruption of Mount Vesuvius and the destruction Pompeii in 79AD when the following cast of characters gather in Pompeii to fill out the film’s running time before the big bang. There is Milo, also called The Celt, (Kit Harrington) whose family in Northern Britain were massacred by Romans when he was a young boy and he was taken as a slave. Twelve years later he is a slave and a gladiator, being taken with a group of gladiators to Pompeii for the games. On the way he assists Cassia (Emily Browning), whose aristocratic father and mother (Jared Harris, Carrie-Anne Moss) are the most powerful property developers in Pompeii. Cassia has fled Rome to escape the attentions of the dastardly Senator Corvus (Keifer Sutherland) who is a friend of the new Emperor Titus. With his lieutenant Proculus (Sacha Roiz), Corvus has followed Cassia to Pompeii to press his suit. It also just happens that Corvus and Proculus were the Roman officers who had massacred Milo’s family in Britain all those years ago. Milo and Cassia fall in love but he is due to fight Atticus (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), the undefeated champion, to the death in the arena. Can Milo survive long enough to exact his revenge on Corvus and save Cassia before Vesuvius explodes?

     The Blu-ray release of Pompeii has already been reviewed by DanielB on this site here and I pretty much agree with Daniel’s views.

     Paul W.S. Anderson has a history of directing silly but entertaining movies with such as the Resident Evil films (2002, 2010, 2012), AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004) and The Three Musketeers (2011) on his resume after his initial Event Horizon (1997). As the above plot summary of Pompeii indicates, the script is also silly and very contrived. I guess they have to do something before the eruption and although the set-up during the first 60 minutes piles on the clichés and coincidences, and the acting is nothing special, the characters are watchable and the scenery and the reconstruction of the streets of Pompeii are very well done. There are also enough ominous rumbles from the volcano and minor tremors to build tension and hold the interest. The final 30 minutes of destruction and mayhem are spectacular and all that one can expect from a disaster film; there is the volcano exploding, flying molten rocks, crashing buildings and debris, a tsunami, the ash cloud and lava flow that are colourful, loud and visually exciting. The fact that a lot of the effects, such as the ash, were done practically certainly enhances the reality of the film, with only a few shots, such as the tsunami and some of the volcanic explosion, looking fake.

     Pompeii is certainly no Gladiator in its plotting and acting, but there are a number of genuine, spectacular heart in month moments as the volcano explodes and Pompeii, and the doomed citizens, are swamped by ash, rocks, a tsunami and a lava flow. This is a disaster film after all, and that part delivers!

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Transfer Quality


     Pompeii is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, close to the 2.35:1 original theatrical ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     The print is very good. Except for some of the CGI backgrounds such as in the arena, the print is clean, sharp and detailed. The dirt and blood on the faces of gladiators, the costumes of the nobility and the sets are finely detailed. Colours have been manipulated; Pompeii outside of the villa, including the streets and cells of the gladiators, has a brown tawny look so the gladiators also look bronzed and buffed. Elsewhere, the reds and yellows of the explosions and lava are vivid while blacks and shadow detail are exceptional. Brightness and contrast are consistent.

     Other than slight ghosting, artefacts and marks are absent.

    English subtitles for the hard of hearing are available.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     Audio is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track at 448 Kbps. The English audio commentary is Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224 Kbps.

     The audio is spectacular. Dialogue is clear and easy to hear. The rears and surrounds are used for ambient effects, such as rain, crowds, and music in the quieter scenes, but burst out with sound during the gladiator fights and the destruction of Pompeii with the explosions of the volcano, the crash of falling rocks and buildings filling the sound design. There are also a number of directional effects as spears, rocks and debris fly past. The sub-woofer helped with ominous rumbles from the volcano in the first half of the film then added loud and effective bass to the eruption and destruction.

     The orchestral and choral music score by Clinton Shorter was epic, suiting the film.

     Lip synchronisation fine.

     The layer chance at 24:27 created a slight pause in the middle of a scene.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


     The extras are extensive and the same as included on the Blu-ray.


     On start-up are trailers for Belle (2:21) and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (1:14). They cannot be selected from the menu.

Audio Commentary - Filmmakers

     Director Paul Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt talk pretty much non-stop throughout the film and provide information about a range of topics including scripting, casting, locations, their intentions, sets, authenticity and physical reality, shooting in 3D, music and visual effects. An informative and interesting commentary that is well worth a listen.

Deleted Scenes (21:58)

     There are a total of 20 deleted scenes, some which were not completed and have drawings, blue and green screen backgrounds or a text to indicate where something is; most have production sound and no music. Many are expansions of existing scenes, others add a subplot about the prophetess Strigana which was cut from the finished film. There is a play all option and the scenes can be selected individually. The scenes are:

The Assembly (6:55)

     This featurette covering aspects of the casting and the characters includes lots of film footage plus short interview sections with director Paul W.S. Anderson and cast members Kit Harrington, Emily Browning, Keifer Sutherland, Jared Harris, Carrie-Anne Moss, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Jessica Lucas. EPK and superficial.

The Journey (7:20)

     Another EPK type featurette covering authenticity, the production design and the look of the film. It includes behind the scenes and on-set footage plus interviews with Anderson, producers Don Carmody, Jeremy Bolt, production designer Paul Denham Austerberry and DP Glen MacPherson. Worth a look.

The Costume Shop (6:34)

     Behind the scenes footage about designing and making the costumes and jewellery, with costume designer Wendy Partridge and cast Kit Harrington, Emily Browning, Keifer Sutherland and Carrie-Anne Moss providing comments. Reasonable.

The Volcanic Eruption (6:48)

     Information about filming the eruption using a combination of CGI and practical effects with input from Anderson, visual effects supervisor Dennis Berardi and special effects supervisor Tony Kenny. This one was quite interesting.

The Gladiators (6:07)

     On set look at some of the fights and stunts, including training, rehearsals and green screen filming. Contributions from stunt coordinator Jean Frenette and cast Kit Harrington, Keifer Sutherland and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. Again worth a look.

The Weapons of Pompeii (4:03)

     Making the various weapons used in the film. Behind the scenes footage plus input from prop master Chris Geggie. Reasonable.

Pompeii : Buried in Time (23:07)

     Not a documentary about what happened at Pompeii but a “making of” that is mostly a compendium of the above featurettes including a lot of the same behind the scenes footage and interviews with the director, producer, production designer, costume designer, special effects supervisor, visual effects coordinator, prop master, DP and all the principal cast members. A couple of comments from a professor at the University of Cincinnati are also added. On its own it may have been OK, I guess.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     Releases of Pompeii around the regions are the same.


     Pompeii has a clichéd and contrived plot that includes gladiators, a dastardly villain and doomed lovers. However, it looks good and the 30 minutes of destruction and mayhem as the volcano explodes and loud, colourful and explosive. What more could one want in a disaster film!

     The DVD has excellent video and audio. The extras are a bit repetitive but are worthwhile and the same as available in other regions.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, September 25, 2014
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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