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Kink - The 51st Shade of Grey
Kink - The 51st Shade of Grey
Offered by M plus L
Price: CDN$ 28.52
5 used & new from CDN$ 28.52

4.0 out of 5 stars A LOOK INSIDE KINK.COM, Sept. 20 2016
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The first thing to know about this DVD entitled: "KINK: The 51st Shade of Grey" is that it is the SAME 2013 documentary about Peter Ackworth's KINK.COM internet BDSM site - produced by James Franco and Directed by Christine Voros - that is also sold under the title of. simply: "KINK".

This appears to be a Euro-version of the film - released in the Netherlands - with a different title and box cover art - obviously referencing the" 50 Shades of Grey" book & movie franchise - doubtless to make it seem more 'accessible' to the average viewer. But - people who are not particularly involved or interested in the REAL BDSM scene may find themselves a little 'shocked' by some of the content of this DVD. This is actually the second documentary to focus on this kinky empire - the first one being: "Graphic Sexual Horror" (2009) from director: Barbara Bell - which told the story of's predecessor: INSEX.COM. Ackworth was persecuted and prosecuted by the US Gov Dept of Homeland Security for the alleged 'terrorific' subject matter on INSEX - so he dropped that moniker and re-invented his web-based S&M media empire under the KINK banner... presenting essentially the same sort of bent subject matter to a subscription based public internet following.

The content & format of "KINK" is also pretty much similar to the earlier "Graphic Sexual Horror" doc. The film-makers wander around's impressively massive home base in an old armory building in San Fransisco - interspersing snippets of interviews with the people who work there with brief glimpses into some of the 'scenes' that are being filmed. The latter include examples of both gay and straight BDSM action that appear pretty intense - with some full male & female nudity -. lotsa ropes and clamps and toys - moaning and groaning! What is illuminating and enlightening is the professionalism of the whole situation and the intelligence of all the individuals involved. As the interviewees point out. over & over again, this is not some sleazy abusive environment preying on marginalized individuals - rather it is a very 'responsible' organization that is dedicated to filling a special niche of the human sexual spectrum. Apparently this 'niche' is on the ascendant in a world that is ever more permissive and intrigued with 'intense/extreme' experiences - one scene shows all of the organization sitting around analyzing the sales statistics from each of the company's different 'titles' - all of which show monthly profits in the hundreds of thousands of dollars! Altho the film-makers hint at the potentially corrupting role that money plays in the whole affair - most of 'actors' involved in the painful pleasures seem to be really enjoying themselves.

As is typical of the documentary format - the fragmented aspect of the scenes portrayed do not allow the viewer to really 'get-into' the action but there ARE a wide variety of 'kinks' represented. Male tumescence is shown but not much female pubic action and there are no scenes of 'penetration' - the doc walks a fine line of becoming offensively 'pornographic' while examining its' transgressive subject matter. The DVD is relatively sort - this Euro version of the film clocks in at 77 min. and I note that the N. American version is 80 min. long - whether this is a manifestation of the run time differential that occurs between PAL and NTSC formats or represents some 'cuts' isn't evident. I have actually ordered a copy of the DVD titled "KINK" and will report on any disparity between the content of the 2 versions - once I get a chance to watch it!

Over-all I thot that this was a pretty engaging and informative documentary and enjoyed it. People who are familiar with the KINK product will recognize many of the 'personalities' featured on the website and it is interesting to hear them speak about their lives and motivations, Anyone wishing to immerse themselves more fully in the content alluded to in the documentary will need to look elsewhere to source the actual product that is shown being produced - there are DVD versions available on the internet, as well as the 'subscription' service that is the primary source for the product. This version has both German and English sound options - nice clear picture quality throughout - only 'extras' are a couple of 'trailers' for the film. As the people who are interviewed constantly state > "this stuff isn't for everyone" - but - this doc does a pretty good job of trying to shed some positive light on a, traditionally, dark corner of human sexuality.

Petite Mort [Import]
Petite Mort [Import]
Price: CDN$ 25.81
14 used & new from CDN$ 16.44

3.0 out of 5 stars Germanic Grim-ness!, July 22 2016
This review is from: Petite Mort [Import] (DVD)
This movie is a good advertisement for just staying at the airport if you've got some time to kill between flights! Unfortunately for the trio of friends in this German 'torture porn' flik - they decide to venture out into the streets of Frankfurt for a few hours B4 their plane takes off and, instead of 'killing time' - they end up 'meeting the reaper' in particularly nasty ways. The Germans have produced some gritty and grim 'horror' films over the years and this one ranks right up there - it reminded me of similar fare from the likes of Germanic U.G. indie film-maker Andreas Bethmann. Following in the foot-steps of the 'Hostel' franchise this 2009 production reprises many of Hostel's core elements: principally the concept of a group of innocent young tourists getting abducted into a weird snuff club environment that caters to rich sadistic deviants.

After a prologue that purports the 'story to be based upon true events' - The film starts in a light-hearted manner introducing the 'victims' via some hand-help cell phone shots taken by one of the group. The 'group' includes a guy and his blind! - black GF and their female friend 'Dodo' who is portrayed as a feisty individual. The 2 girlz are heading off on a holiday and the boy-friend is 'seeing them off' - with some trepidation about their safety. They venture into a 'bar' that turns out to be a fetish club and things go 'south' rather quickly as they are confronted by some aggressive folks and next thing ya know they are all drugged and carted off to a remote subterranean lair where they become the unwilling participants in an organized ring of wealthy sadists who like to torture and kill other people for their own perverse enjoyment. The duration of the (relatively short 78 min.) run-time is devoted to the torments that the trio are subjected to.

The Director has filmed all of this nefarious action in a jerky hand-held fashion to give it a more 'realistic / snuff film' ambiance and the lighting and such are often intentionally dim and grainy. The S&M 'club' "Le Maison de le Petite Mort" is ruled over by a female domme that everyone refers to simply as 'Mom' and she is a nasty piece of work who really seems to hate men. The male of the tourist trio finds this out as he has his eye gouged out with a knife, is brutally castrated (in a particularly graphic cringe-worthy scene!!), and finally eviscerated. His two female companions don't make out a lot better but their tortures aren't quite as heavy-duty.

Whereas one might argue that Eli Roth's (original) "Hostel" had a bit of 'lightness' to it - "Petite Mort" certainly DOESN"T! I found this to be a pretty grim little bit of torture/horror porn with a nihilistic vibe from beginning to end. Despite some obvious attempts to build a 'rapport' with the victim characters in the plot - once everyone was in 'the dungeon' it became difficult to recognize who was who and there wasn't a lot empathy developed for anyone. I'd imagine that fans of this type of stark gore-fest would enjoy this film because it is very graphic (at least in the 'un-censored/un-rated version!) - but I found it to be sorta un-engaging beyond the visceral imagery that it portrayed. Minimal female nudity in this one - nakedness IS displayed by the hapless male of the group as his wee-wee getz sawed off (yeowh!) - German lang. w/ English subs. The only extra is the trailer for the film. Certainly not 'original' in its' concept - "Petite Mort" would doubtless appeal to anyone who thot that films like "Hostel" fell short of being violent and graphic enuf. Definitely NOT one for the kidees!

Soft Flesh And Orgies Of Death: Fiction, Features & Art From Classic Men's Adventure Magazines
Soft Flesh And Orgies Of Death: Fiction, Features & Art From Classic Men's Adventure Magazines
by Pep Pentangeli
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 42.08
20 used & new from CDN$ 25.01

4.0 out of 5 stars All the "Soft Screeming Flesh" You've Ever Wanted!, Feb. 27 2016
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This is one of 3 books that reproduce a selection of the warped stories and art that formed the content of the (s)exploitational "Men's Magazines" that populated the magazine racks back in the 1950's - 60's. In their original incarnation - these were pulpish publications with cheesy newsprint interiors and lurid color cover art that typically depicted men and/or women suffering some sort of horrific abuse. The subject matter covered in the stories varied from tales of 'man against nature' wilderness adventures to (in the aftermath of WW II) war horror recollections of grim battles and even grimmer tortures at the hands of the Nazis and Japanese warlords. Additional sensational plots were gleaned from accounts of 'real-life' murderers and 'human monsters' of yore, plus lots of scary exposes dealing with modern slavery, drugs, gangs, juvenile delinquents, rampant nymphomaniacs, and the like. All in all it was pretty over the top stuff that has, now in retrospect, become a rich source for kitschy nostalgia.

It's a little ironic that this most sleazy and reviled of pulp hardcore has NOW been given a first class re-introduction to the world! The yellowed newsprint has been replaced by thick glossy paper stock as a medium to reproduce the words and graphics that one often hardly dared to be seen looking at back in the day! This slick presentation is welcome for the picture reproduction - but seems a little overblown for the accompanying prose. Most of the illustrations that are provided are in B&W. Some reviewers have 'wished' that they were printed in color - BUT - the original interior artwork was actually mostly printed in B&W! There was a special style of painting that was developed for these magazines - with the artists working in gray toned tempra paints - that is unique to the genre - and it IS nice to have so many of these B&W illos made available for viewing again!

There IS a section in each of the books (towards the front & back covers) that reproduces some of the cover art work in full color. My 'complaint' with this section is that, rather than re-printing the cover as it originally looked, the editors have chosen to 'zoom-in' on only a (detail portion of the cover! While this does present some nice close-up detail of the artist's 'technique' - the over-all image cannot be appreciated! This is the situation for all 3 of the books currently in print.

Fortunately, for those who really want to see more of the artwork - there are some other books (recently published) that focus in primarily on the cover art. One of the best examples is the volume: "It's A Man's World: Men's Adventure Magazines" (available from Amazon!) that gives a great overview of the entire Men's Magazine phenomenon and reproduces literally hundreds of 'shocking' covers - organized by subject matter. "It's A Man's World..." is definitely the better of the books dealing with this weird sub-slice of period publishing - it is much broader in its' analysis and information on all aspects of the genre. BUT - if you find yourself wishing you could still read some of the crazed content that the covers allude to - this series of 'facsimile reproductions' gives you that opportunity.

Don't expect any Pulitzer Prize quality writing in these compilations of sleaze - but there's lotsa 'screaming tormented virgins' and 'blazing gun heroic adventure' to be 'enjoyed'. For me it was a bit of a trip down memory lane back to the days when I was just a young lad too nervous to even pick this jaundiced product up off the shelf. Now it just makes a great 'conversation starter' in our current age of anything goes mega-porn. All the whip-wielding nymphos and tormented maidens seem almost like a return to a simpler, happier time. Recommended - if you like this sorta bent stuff.

Super Eruption [Import]
Super Eruption [Import]
Offered by thebookcommunity_ca
Price: CDN$ 45.83
6 used & new from CDN$ 40.16

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Glad it was cheap!, May 30 2015
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This review is from: Super Eruption [Import] (DVD)
"Super Eruption" is a made for the SyFy Channel product that chronicles the effects of a potential eruption of the massive volcanic caldera that houses Yellowstone National Park. Personally, I love a good disaster flik and am particularly drawn to scenarios that involve volcanic and/or tsunami action. "Super Eruption" definitely delivered lotsa lava action, but was pretty flawed in many areas of its' basic plot development and editing - thus detracting from its' enjoyment level.

Perhaps one of the most disturbing elements, for me, was the fact that the film was obviously NOT shot in Yellowstone Park - or even America. As is the case with much SyFy Channel product the end credits revealed that the production took place in Eastern Europe and the landscape just didn't look 'right'. I have visited Yellowstone and know what it looks like - this factor alone made it hard to get into the feel of the film. The acting was all reasonably well done, but the story line was so 'by the numbers', that it just didn't build any kind of suspense or intrigue and, ultimately, relied on some rather improbable twists that totally destroyed any credibility in the plot. The CGI effects were pretty decent throughout but they felt sorta 'wasted' due to the sloppiness of the screenplay.

A vastly superior take on the same Yellowstone eruption premise was realized in the Knowledge Network generated docu-drama "Super Volcano" which is available on DVD, and the Yellowstone sequence in the film "2012"also gives much better 'bang for the buck'. Still - "Super Eruption" wasn't the worst thing I've seen come out of the SyFy pipe and it could be recommended for some light weight diversion by fans of the genre.

Pain Or Pleasure? [Import]
Pain Or Pleasure? [Import]
Price: CDN$ 15.40
2 used & new from CDN$ 15.40

2.0 out of 5 stars NOT HOT, Nov. 29 2014
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This review is from: Pain Or Pleasure? [Import] (DVD)
Purporting to be an introduction to the world of fetish and BDSM this DVD was long on talking and short on action. Perhaps its' one redeeming value might be that it does make the world of fetish seem approachable by portraying the world of dominance and submission as a sort of glorified tool for individuals to work thru their sexual hang-ups.

Via a series of interviews with people involved in the fetish scene topics such as rope bondage, domination, foot fetish and the like are skimmed over by both professional dominatrix and submissives. There is certainly nothing 'offensive' in this production, and no nudity either.

If the goal was to make the world of kink and fetish appear bland and (almost) normal - then this DVD succeeds! - which (sadly) is to say it rather sucks if the viewer is looking for some arousing content. Can't really recommend it as anything other than the most basic primer on the subject for those who haven't a clue. Save your money.

Killer Mermaid [Import]
Killer Mermaid [Import]
Price: CDN$ 19.72
4 used & new from CDN$ 19.72

3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Fishy, Oct. 2 2014
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This review is from: Killer Mermaid [Import] (DVD)
"Killer Mermaid" starts off promisingly enuf!... A young couple are making out on the Adriatic sea shore - the girl takes off her top and goes into the clinch with her BF - BUT - suddenly HE is lured into and under the water by a mysterious haunting melody and the shocked girl is simultaneously dispatched by an, unseen, on-shore psycho killer. This duel threat scenario of land-based AND water-based killer(s) is an interesting concept and sets the stage for all the subsequent action - wherein the usual group of young people with a variety of socio/sexual entanglements get picked off one by one as the plot progresses. At the same time this is indicative of the, sort of, schizoid approach that this film demonstrates, as it moves forward, that I found tended to detract from its' potential success. Is it a slasher flik OR is it a killer mermaid flik?!?

While there WERE a few original concepts & creepy moments - much of the movie seemed derivative & pretty 'by the numbers'. For starters - it was hard not to make comparisons with Spielberg's JAWS as 'Killer Mermaid' utilized so many of its' sorta 'over-used' techniques in attempting to provide thrills & chills... such as: the numerous underwater scenes with pulsating music alluding to the unseen aquatic threat - the grizzled old 'Quint'-like mariner who spins a long-winded scary tale of doom, and the key characters who ultimately end up in a vulnerable little boat on the sea anticipating an attack from the deep! Personally, I found it a little disappointing that so much time was devoted to the land based murderer - I was expecting and hoping for more mermaid action!

On the 'plus' side: the cast was attractive (lotsa skimpy bikinis!) and the dialog, albeit banal, was delivered adequately - though there was a LOT of verbal exposition that sorta slowed things down on several occasions. The 'mermaid' was pretty effectively realized AND had an unusual feature... a remarkably nice butt! - not the 'classic' asexual fishy lower extremities one typically sees in mer-creatures - this one has an attractive pink 'booty' B4 the tail begins! She was pretty gorgeous... when she wanted to be. It was also nice to see x-ploitation alumnus Franco Nero resurrected to fulfill the role of 'Nikos' - the sage old salt who tries to warn the young folk away from danger. The locations were interesting and definitely added to the 'sinister' feel of the film.

On the 'negative' side of the equation, however, I would again note the formulaic nature of many of the plot devices and the manner in which the story is told - not many surprises here! There are some fairly massive incongruities in the action and the, previously mentioned, tendency to try to 'explain' things in long winded soliloquy that generally slackened the pace and tension of the proceedings. Also - for fans of such - there ultimately was very little 'skin' on display beyond the brief opening sequence - Heck! even the 'topless' mermaid hardly revealed her upper torso to much advantage... apparently relying more on her 'siren song' to lure the men into her deadly embrace.

Over-all I found this eastern-European stab at horror to be OK - but with a little more originality and imagination it coulda been so much more... a bit more screen time for the titular mermaid wouldn't have hurt either. Perhaps more of a 'renter' than 'a keeper'- in my opinion - BUT worth a look! Widescreen format - English language - some nice extras.

Young & Beautiful [Import]
Young & Beautiful [Import]
Offered by Fulfillment Express CA
Price: CDN$ 31.58
16 used & new from CDN$ 12.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sleep-walking Through Her "Sexual Awakening", Sept. 16 2014
This review is from: Young & Beautiful [Import] (DVD)
As this film "Young & Beautiful' began to tell its' story of the sexual (mis)adventures of a lovely young (17 year old) French maiden "Isabelle" it (initially) reminded me of another recent French film that explored the world of young women and prostitution: "Student Services"(see my review of same for more on that film). In both movies the, rather disaffected, heroine of the tale dabbles in the 'play 4 pay' lifestyle to earn a little spending cash and both are seemingly emotionally quite distant from the intimate acts they are performing and the people that they are performing them with. But, whereas the plot of "Student Services' never went much beyond the rather mono-dimensional self loathing evinced by its' lead female "Young & Beautiful" takes some interesting twists and turns and presents a much more complex set of characters and circumstances and is ultimately, I feel, a more engaging and successful film because of that fact.

Perhaps this is partially due to the purported 'age' of the lead character - who determines to lose her 'cherry' on her 17th BD (and does!) then sets out to market herself on the internet as an 'escort' - all this while she is still, technically 'under-age', living at home with her family. It is ultimately this interaction w/ the complexities of the various family members that gives the film its' soul and poignancy. The Director does a fine job of revealing the various story elements and personalities slowly and providing just enough information about them to make them real without becoming moralistic or overindulgent about any of the proceedings.

The gorgeous ingenue lead actress (Marine Vacth) effectively portrays the (typically teenage) rather self-centered young woman who is coming to grips with her own physical sexuality but doesn't have much of a handle on the emotional aspects of it yet. She makes a very convincing 17 year old and rewards the viewer with many scenes sans clothing as she plies her trade - all of the sex scenes are tastefully presented - nuthin' gratuitous or XXX! Ultimately this is a film dealing with the complex nature of human sexuality and family relationships - I found it to be refreshingly candid and non-judgmental in addressing these topics (doubtless a Euro/French touch!) and would recommend it as an intriguing viewing experience for just about anyone. French language with English subs.

L'Immortelle [Blu-ray] [Import]
L'Immortelle [Blu-ray] [Import]
Price: CDN$ 38.91
12 used & new from CDN$ 21.81

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enigmatic Cinema Personified, Aug. 25 2014
"L'Immortelle" is one of several recent releases of films written and directed by French writer and film-maker Alain Robb-Grillet. In North America it appears that the Redemption DVD authoring group have secured the rights to distribute his works - while in England the British Film Institute (BFI) has the honor. Redemption has issued 5 films/disks 'individually' while the BFI has presented them in a nice 6 film retrospective box-set ( a format that is ultimately less expensive per film. The BFI set is , however, in the Euro Region 2 PAL format and requires a 'region-free' DVD player to view

The majority of Robb-Grillete's works have been generally un-available for 'home viewing' for decades. - this current collection presents some of his earliest works from the 1960-70's period when he was first trying his hand as a Director, after achieving his initial recognition for scripting the French art-house classic: "Last Year At Marienbad". "L'Immortelle" was, in fact, his first solo directorial outing and it continues to feature many of the surreal and enigmatic elements that were explored in '...Marienbad".

After viewing a body of Robb-Grillete's works, and reading some analysis of his films by cinema scholars, a pattern begins to emerge that helps the viewer to appreciate where he was coming from and what he was trying to achieve. Such background info is really helpful, because without it his films may initially seem very disjointed and abstract - even by art-house standards. Robb-Grillete enjoyed 'playing with' the peculiarities inherent in format of cinema and using , and abusing them, to his own ends to create a film experience that challenges the viewer's normal expectations for how a film should evolve. He pretty much ignores the concept of a linear plot progression in most of his scenarios and his plots and characters constantly fold back in upon themselves providing multiple viewpoints and time frames that ultimately provide a very surreal experience. One should not expect everything to wrap up tidily at the end of the show but one may expect the film to 'stick with them' for a while after viewing due to the enigmatic nature of the images and concepts presented - almost like a 'waking-dream'.

Alain Robb-Grillete, & his 'partner' Catherine (who makes regular appearances in his films) were both noted for their "outre' " sexual preferences that leaned in the BDSM direction, and many of his films featured elements that portrayed this personal penchant for S/M symbolism and lifestyle. Not surprisingly - this flirtation with 'forbidden' sexual practices often drew the ire of film censors and some of his film's were 'banned' in certain countries for many years - contributing to his obscurity and the (previous) difficulty in accessing his works. Ironically (and despite all the '50 Shades of Gray' allusions on the box cover) "L'Immortelle" actually contains virtually no images or references to these themes of sexual dominance & submission!... nor any 'nudity' within its' contents - whereas later films ( such as 'Trans Europe Express', "Successive Slidings of Pleasure", and "Gradiva' for example) provide a hefty dose of the aforementioned.

That info notwithstanding - "L'Immortelle" is one of the 'spaciest' most intriguing movies I have seen in a long while and qualifies as a genuine surreal experience. It is practically useless to try to describe its' 'plot' because it doesn't really have one, yet the film mesmerizes the viewer with a hypnotic quality that is quite unique. Beautifully filmed in B&W in exotic locales in Istanbul, Turkey the characters, and audience, are caught up in Robb-Grillete's dream-like spell. This is a great intro to this creative film-maker's work and a pretty psychedelic viewing experience. Highly recommended! French language w/ English subs.

Jailbait [Import]
Jailbait [Import]

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bend Over And Spread 'Em, June 5 2014
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This review is from: Jailbait [Import] (DVD)
"JAILBAIT" provides a very acceptable, albeit rather 'by the numbers' modern foray into the venerable WIP genre of exploitation movies. Pretty much all the 'stock' action that one has come to expect and enjoy from the incarcerated females scenario are present: a 'wrongfully accused' heroine, the de-rigeur humiliating body cavity search, lotsa communal showers, a despicable warden, inter-racial tensions, lesbian love-ins, bad cafeteria food, AND full nudity abound.

The lead actress (Sara Malakul Lane) does a credible job as the sexually abused teenager (with outstanding cello playing skills!) who gets 'sent up the river' after accidentally killing her lecherous step dad while he is in mid molestation mode - though her purported 17 yr old persona is somewhat challenged when she removes her clothes (which she does A LOT!) to reveal a body that looks like it's got a few more years on it than advertised (but is VERY pleasing to behold, nonetheless!). She's got great freckles, and can even act - as her 'character' must come to grips with the brutal realities of prison life.

The plot moves forward with a satisfying predictability and decent performances all around - nothing really 'new' here - but then why mess with a successful formula?! A light weight and enjoyable viewing experience if you are a fan of women in the slammer flix.

Pompeii (Bilingual)
Pompeii (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Kit Harington
Price: CDN$ 8.00
16 used & new from CDN$ 2.98

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spartacus V/S Vesuvius, May 18 2014
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This review is from: Pompeii (Bilingual) (DVD)
I'm a big fan of films that feature volcanic catastrophe (both real and imaginary) and the infamous tale of the Roman city of Pompeii that was buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79AD holds a special place in the lexicon of cinematic treatments for this genre. Previous re-enactments of the story have been made several times, perhaps most notably with multiple versions of "The Last Days of Pompeii" - wherein some involving storyline of human entanglements is interwoven with the ultimate eruptive spectacle whence the studio SPFX crew get to unleash a lot of impressive destruction on the 'characters' and film audience.

This most recent re-telling of the saga seemingly looks to take advantage of the current state of the art in volcanic CGI effects to provide an eruption of unprecedented realism and visual impact (which it does manage to do pretty effectively!) BUT I found the rest of the film to be pretty formulaic as the director attempts to develop some engaging sympathy for the fore-doomed characters whose lives it chronicles up to their pre-determined historical climax. This version presents a rather simple tale of revenge as a 'barbarian' youth from a Celtic 'horse tribe' has his family wiped out and is carried away to the slave pits (shades of Conan the Barbarian) by the evil Roman conquerors and ends up becoming a gladiator in Pompeii. Along the way his equine skills bring him to the attention of a beautiful aristocratic Pompeiian lady with whom he ultimately develops a love affair - AND a bro-mance, of sorts, with a rival massive 'Nubian' gladiator who is 'fighting for his freedom'. Add to the mix the thoroughly smarmy Roman Senator who is also lusting after the lovely maiden and the stage is set for some interpersonal fire-works. The 'fun' thing about Pompeii based films is that you just know that all the puny human interactions are gonna get interrupted, big time.

Once Vesuvius starts to do its' thing the screen definitely 'lights up' with some impressive pyrotechnics - but - there have been so many similar spectacular CGI 'eruptions' in recent disaster flix (such as the Yellowstone sequence in '2012' or the volcano 'god' in 'Wrath of the Titans') that there isn't much 'new' to be experienced - despite the film's promo hype-line that: "you've never experienced anything like THIS before!" Personally, I have read a lot about the actual Pompeii (even had the pleasure of visiting it!) and from that perspective came my biggest pros and cons for the movie. On the positive side - this version of Pompeii does a fantastic job of digitally recreating the ancient city with great accuracy. Areal perspectives of the city show it exactly as it was laid out and the set designs at street level also are very authentic in depicting the look of the dwellings and life in those times. On the negative side of reality - there is a glaring error in the way the demise of Pompeii is presented. In the film Pompeii is shown being engulfed by a giant pyroclastic cloud of super-heated material sweeping rapidly over everything. Pompeii was, in actual fact, covered by a persistent 'rain' of pumice stone that rapidly (over the course of several days) 'buried' the city and its' remaining inhabitants in an ironically 'gentle' but deadly crushing embrace! The pyroclastic phenomenon actually occurred a bit to the north of Pompeii where it wiped out the seaside city of Herculenium. Amidst all the raining fire balls, tidal waves, and earthquakes it becomes a bit incredulous that the lead characters continue to battle one another for the hand of the maiden and the director pulls out every cliche to have the bad guys keep popping up in 'Terminator'-esque fashion to add more tension to a situation that is already about as tense as could possibly be imagined.

It's an interesting side-note of historical fact that the real rebel gladiator 'Spartacus' did 'take refuge' from the Roman army in the caves upon Mt Vesuvius (well prior to its eruption). In a peripheral vein... I read an xlnt novel entitled 'Pompeii' by British author Robert Harris - wherein the lead protagonist was an aquatic engineer sent to Pompeii to determine the cause of irregularities with the City's complex water system (a foretelling of the volcanic event). This presented an intriguing character and action that was equally as involving and more 'interesting' than the rather 'stock' vengeful gladiator / frustrated love affair re-hash that this film based it's plot upon. It also provided a nifty 'escape clause' for the hero & heroine. Too bad that the producers couldn't have had a little more imaginative vision.

Ultimately, I would recommend this version of 'Pompeii' mostly for its''production values' and CGI volcanic effects - worth adding to the collection, but maybe after the prices come down a little. The best (and most authentic) recounting of the Pompeii tale I've seen is the documentary piece produced by the Discovery Channel for TV entitled "Pompeii - The Last Day" (available via Amazon) - IT gets the facts straight, has amazing production values, and manages to develop way more empathy for its' characters in its short run-time... Fellow volcano-philes may wish check IT out.

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