I found the movie pedestrian. I had hoped for informed speculative glimpses into those lives. Not a documentary, but a theatrical look at perhaps a slave, a poor family, a merchant family, and the ruling class. What did they think was happening? Whom did they blame, or did they blame anyone? Did they look to the gods, or not? Instead, this is mostly a gladiator flick. It was pointed out to me, in order to sell a script about ancient times action, glistening hunks, swordplay and fighting would be needed. Well, the mountain provides the action, but they felt the need to throw in the swords, the hunks, and the fighting.
The actual event lasted for more than a day. Clearly enough for a two-hour movie. However, more than half of the film is spent acquainting us with a few gladiators, a ruler and his daughter, and yes, the obvious love interest between the slave gladiator and the ruler’s daughter. Haven’t we seen this before?
Some of the acting is a bit over the top, while some of it does the job. The direction is middle of the road at best. No ground is broken (except on the screen). The editing is equally old hat. The effects are not special, though I will give the creators credit for taking the time to depict the several distinct phases of such a powerful coastal volcanic eruption, making note of the tremors, ejecta, tidal wave, wind blast, falling ash and other conditions, each in its turn. While they did send time showing us renditions of actual streets and speculation on actual events, the quality is midland. 3D generation is often flat and at times they resort to poor resolution tricks, such as double framing to create slow motion, indicating they hadn’t though every shot through.
It was entertaining, and if you wish to see it in the theater, do so. Never take a critic’s word. But I will say you can wait for RedBox or NetFlix and would not miss a thing.