“For the days are surely coming when
they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and
the breasts that never nursed.’ Then they will begin to say to the
mountains, ‘Fall on us’; and to the hills, ‘Cover us’. “(Luke 23:
” is about the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D., which completely wiped
out the city of
and everyone in it. Recent excavations
have uncovered people “frozen in ash” in mid-stride, which indicates just
how suddenly their lives ended. The
cascading lava flow was preceded by earthquake, flying rocks like fire and
brimstone from the sky, tsunami in the harbor, and flooding in the city.
The CGI technology makes this movie really spectacular in its special
effects. But to its credit, it
doesn’t content itself with just being a disaster epic.
It tries to tell a story first, and attempts to develop characters that
the viewers will care about, which makes the spectacular disaster that much
(Dylan Schombing playing the young version, Kit Harington the older) is a
Celtic boy in Britannia in 62 A.D., when his tribe rebelled against their
Roman oppressors. Bad idea.
’s whole village, including his family, were slaughtered before his eyes,
and though he managed to escape after waking up in the pile of dead bodies, he
was subsequently caught, anyway, and sold as a slave, where they discovered
his natural athleticism and made him a gladiator.
Now grown, Milo’s extraordinary
fighting skills gets him shipped to the Mother Country, Italia, to compete in
the great Coliseum in
. On the way there, he encounters athe
Pompeian Princess, Cassia (Emily Browning), because one of her chariot’s
horses went lame and
seemed to be the only one around who knew what to do.
That “Horse Whisperer” talent initially endears him to the
Princess, because she, too, loves horses. But
it’s not just their class differences that work against them, it’s also
prevailing circumstances. Cassia is
being courted by a Roman Senator, Corvus (Kiefer Sutherland), who is cruel and
arrogant, but insistent that her father Severus (Jared Harris) has little
choice but to comply with his wishes.
OK, a critic’s complaint:
If you’re going to try to show all the Romans with a British accent,
OK, that helps the viewers to distinguish them, but you have to be consistent.
Kiefer Sutherland has rightfully made his reputation on the “24”
television series, but he apparently cannot do a credible British accent, and
for that reason is an unnecessarily poor casting choice, and a distracting
one. The street scenes of
itself, however, are quite convincing. And
the foreshadowing of the rumblings of
helps build the plot’s tension right up until the dramatic moment of the
epic catastrophe, when their world literally comes to an end.
For the Christian, this contains unmistakable echoes of the cautionary
apocalyptic teaching of Jesus:
“For as in those days before the flood
they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day
Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept
them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man.” (Matthew 24:
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Minister, St.
Stephen’s Presbyterian Church,