In 79 A.D., the Roman city of Pompeii was destroyed by a volcanic eruption. In 2014 A.D., director Paul W.S. Anderson has created a cinematic version of those events that involves gladiators. There was a press screening for “Pompeii,” but it was at the same time as “3 Days to Kill” and “Non-Stop” (such decisions). That meant early on Friday morning, I purchased a ticket for “Pompeii” at the AMC Lincoln Square on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. While watching, I kept a running diary of the proceedings. Here is how that went:
10:22 a.m.: Around 25 other people purchased a ticket to see the 10:25 a.m. showing of “Pompeii” on a Friday morning, which was more than I expected.
10:37 a.m.: I just watched back-to-back trailers for “Noah” and a Jesus-themed movie called “Son of God.” The only observation I’ll make about “Son of God” is that the guy who plays Jesus could easily be on the cover of Bop magazine.
10:40 a.m.: The trailer for “Think Like a Man Too” just played. I’m now convinced that Kevin Hart will soon rule the world.
10:40 a.m.: Turtle is also in this movie.
10:40 a.m.: Turtle was also in “Last Vegas,” which, like “Think Like a Man Too,” is set in Las Vegas. I’m starting to think that Jerry Ferrara just hangs out in Las Vegas and just jumps into any movie that happens to be filming that particular week.
10:45 a.m.: “A Film By Paul W.S. Anderson” just flashed on the screen. I have nothing against Paul W.S. Anderson, but I will admit that every time I see his name, for a split second, I think it’s the other Paul Anderson and I get a momentary feeling of excitement.
10:47 a.m.: We’re introduced to a young child that I assume will one day grow up to be Kit Harrington.
10:48 a.m.: For now I’ll refer to him as “Johnny Pompeii.”
10:50 a.m.: Kiefer Sutherland is in this movie! What? He’s the bad guy and he’s doing a weird voice.
10:52 a.m.: People are now referring to Kit Harrington’s character as “The Celt,” which isn’t his name. I will continue to refer to him as “Johnny Pompeii."
10:54 a.m.: So, young Johnny Pompeii’s family was slaughtered by Romans, now Johnny Pompeii is a slave who is forced to fight in gladiator battles.
10:58 a.m.: Johnny Pompeii risks his life to help a horse that has fallen. This is how we know Johnny Pompeii is nice.
10:58 a.m.: Johnny Pompeii just snapped the horse’s neck. I can only assume he’s seen “Man of Steel.”
10:59 a.m.: Jared Harris is in this movie? What?
11:00 a.m.: Jared Harris is not even attempting to pretend that he’s from Italy.
11:02 a.m.: Unrelated: When I’m watching a movie and I’m hungry, the gruel that’s always served to prisoners looks appetizing.
11:03 a.m.: Kit Harrington just said the line, “He wants to know my name?” Yes, me too.
11:04 a.m.: If this movie were made 30 years ago, Dom DeLuise would have been cast as the man who is in charge of all of the gladiator slaves.
11:04 a.m.: We just got a sinister close-up of a volcano. I’m sure that won’t come into play later.
11:07 a.m.: Kit Harrington is actually pretty good in this movie.
11:15 a.m.: Honestly, Kiefer Sutherland’s voice sounds like it belongs in a Vaudeville routine.
11:16 a.m.: It looks like Kiefer Sutherland is thinking, The “Pompeii” wing of my house should be completed by the end of the summer, right next to the “Flatliners” wing.
11:20 a.m.: I really can’t get over the voice Kiefer Sutherland is doing.
11:22 a.m.: Johnny Pompeii just helped another horse.
11:26 a.m.: Seriously, Kiefer Sutherland’s voice is just the oddest thing.
11:28 a.m.: For Halloween this year I’m going to dress as Keifer Sutherland’s “Pompeii” accent.
11:36 a.m.: An hour into this movie, we learn Johnny Pompeii’s name is Milo.
11:38 a.m.: I have my suspicions that this movie isn’t historically accurate.
11:38 a.m.: My favorite scene just happened. So, Johnny Pompeii and Kiefer Sutherland are both in love with Jared Harris’ daughter, Cassia. Kiefer Sutherland tells Cassia, “Your father has granted me your hand in marriage.” The frame pans out and we see Jared Harris standing right there who says, “No, I didn’t,” with a “I’m standing right here and I can hear you” look on his face. This was like a scene out of a “Naked Gun” movie.
11:45 a.m.: “Pompeii” is a gladiator movie, only, every so often, a nearby volcano makes some noise.
11:47 a.m.: This movie isn’t particularly good, but I’m enjoying it more than I thought I would. Some of the fights are fun.
11:48 a.m.: Jared Harris just had his final scene in this movie. He has a look of peace and tranquility on his face that is so convincing it makes me think he’s not acting.
11:55 a.m.: The volcano has erupted.
11:58 a.m.: This has now become a different movie.
12:00 p.m.: It reminds me of a poor man’s “Titanic” all of a sudden. Everyone is trying to get to the harbor like people were trying to get to the life boats –- except for Johnny Pompeii, who goes back to save Cassia.
12:07 p.m.: There are fires, floods and earthquakes. This is disaster porn.
12:10 p.m.: Even in the middle of a volcanic eruption, there’s still time for one more gladiator battle.
12:12 p.m.: The volcano is back.
12:13 p.m.: I feel this movie doesn’t want to end, though it should have 10 minutes ago.
12:17 p.m.: Here’s where we learn if a horse can outrun an approaching wall of deadly volcano fire.
12:17 p.m.: Nope.
12:20 p.m.: Okay, that could have been worse. Though, if you must watch a Volcano movie this weekend, maybe just stick with “When Time Ran Out,” or something.
Mike Ryan is senior writer for Huffington Post Entertainment. You can contact him directly on Twitter.
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