Kit Harington in Pompeii.

The story of how Mount Vesuvius blew up sounds like an intriguing setup for an action movie.

Unfortunately, Pompeii was directed by Paul W.S. Anderson.

He has a way of destroying interesting premises with his sloppy directorial hand. For prime examples of how he screws things up terribly, see Alien vs. Predator, Resident Evil: Afterlife, The Three Musketeers or Death Race. Better yet, don’t see them.

Anderson takes the historic eruption and makes it the basis of what he probably hoped would be his Titanic. He has a love story; he has a lot of people scurrying for their lives; he even has mournful vocals that remind of Celine Dion. What he doesn’t have are magnetic stars, decent special effects or a sense of pacing and continuity.

When the volcano finally erupts, people have time for serious conversation, various sword fights, and whatnot. I don’t think so, fellas.

It should be noted that this film contains the very worst Kiefer Sutherland performance ever put to film. So that’s something, at least.

Pompeii is playing at theaters across the valley.