Here's what you know about the Italian city of Pompeii: it was buried in ash when a nearby volcano erupted with sudden fury in 79 AD. If you're plunking down $12 to watch a volcano erupt and destroy a city - first via earthquake, then via flaming boulder bombardment, then via tidal wave, and finally via superheated ash cloud - then you'll get that. But all that meaningless, computer-generated, natural-disaster carnage gets tedious, and quickly. What's much, much more fun is what comes before. You got yer enslaved "savage" (Kit Harrington, fit and fresh as a daisy) who's more civilized than his imperial overlords, gladiating his way across the Roman Empire. You got yer forbidden love across class lines set against the backdrop of spectacular disaster. You got yer political maneuvering, dominated by a dirty Roman senator (Kiefer Sutherland, having the time of his life) who's got his eye on the same girl as our hero. You even got yer arena combat narrated by Greek chorus! And hell if director Paul W.S. Anderson doesn't serve up some actually interesting overhead shots of the doomed city pre-destruction. With all this goodness, who needs a script or a compelling lead? 2014.

Matthew Lickona

Showtimes

AMC La Jolla

8657 Villa La Jolla Drive, San Diego, 888-262-4386

Monday, July 28

9:30pm

Tuesday, July 29

9:30pm

Wednesday, July 30

9:30pm

AMC Mission Valley

1640 Camino del Rio North, San Diego, 888-262-4386

Monday, July 28

9:30pm

Tuesday, July 29

9:30pm

Wednesday, July 30

9:30pm

AMC Otay Ranch

2015 Birch Road, Chula Vista, 888-262-4386

Monday, July 28

9:30pm

Tuesday, July 29

9:30pm

Wednesday, July 30

9:30pm

AMC Palm Promenade

770 Dennery Road, Chula Vista, 888-262-4386

Monday, July 28

9:35pm

Tuesday, July 29

9:35pm

Wednesday, July 30

9:35pm

AMC Plaza Bonita

3050 Plaza Bonita Road, National City, 888-262-4386

Monday, July 28

9:30pm

Tuesday, July 29

9:30pm

Wednesday, July 30

9:30pm

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