Screening Room: “Pompeii,” “In Secret”

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1. POMPEII (PG-13)
Sony Pictures

‘A hunka, hunka burnin’ love’ could be the theme song for “Pompeii,” a third-rate sword and sandal epic surrounded by first-rate special effects. Kit Harington from TV’s “Game of Thrones” plays a Celtic gladiator brought to the ill-fated Italian city in 79 AD to fight for his life just before the fireworks begin.

The fireworks are cool. Yes, the visual effects in "Pompeii' are spectacular. Actually pretty awesome. But the story is ridiculously stupid, love angle trite and acting less than stellar. But hey it's an impressively entertaining movie despite its many flaws.

Everything about the movie is campy except for the impressive production values, which are admittedly spectacular. If you decide to see it, opt for all the bells and whistles your local cinema has to offer. The over-the-top visuals are the only reason this movie exists.

It's not the only reason it exist. The filmmakers were actually on to something. Combining elements of "Titanic" and "Gladiator" ain't a bad concept. If this movie were better executed it would be lethal. But it wasn't so all you get is a cable ready caliber movie with major movie blockbuster status effects. I can't quite raise a sword to that but it's also not an epic fail.

RUSS: 2 Popcorn Bags
SHAWN: 3 Popcorn Bags

Roadside Attractions

RUSS: Adultery, murder and retribution are at the heart of Émile Zola's scandalous 1867 novel “Thérèse Raquin,” often considered the original example of noir fiction. “In Secret” is the title of the latest of about a dozen screen versions of the story. It offers nothing new, except for a strong supporting performance from Jessica Lange. "In Secret” is an appropriately dark and unsettling melodrama and the talented cast adds some gravitas. But it may be just a bit too familiar to seem shocking any longer.

RUSS: 3 Popcorn Bags

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