Historical epic is light on plot, heavy on carnage.
  • Review Date: February 21, 2014
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 102 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Facing death is easier when your friends and loved one are beside you. Also, stand up for what you believe in.

Positive role models

Though Milo is a slave, he refuses to surrender his dignity and instead is willing to make great sacrifices to help a friend and the woman he loves. Cassia is a strong young woman who's unafraid of standing up for herself.


It's a gladiator film, so there's near non-stop violence. Men use swords, spears, knives, and other weapons to kill, stab, and pummel each other. Sometimes they batter people with their bare hands. There are piles of corpses left at the end of several scenes, though few of the deaths are gory. A massive volcanic eruption destroys a city and kills most of its residents in extensive, explosive scenes. Some scenes show ash-covered corpses after a volcanic eruption.


A few suggestive comments as a woman examines a man. One scene shows a couple kissing passionately.


One character calls a woman a "bitch," once.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some scenes show people drinking wine at parties.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Pompeii is a gladiator tale set in the last days of the doomed Roman city, and is very heavy on combat and carnage. Gladiators fight to the death, soldiers massacre villagers, prisoners batter each other over petty slights, and numerous scenes end with piles of corpses in the background. There's hardly any swearing, sex, or drinking to interrupt the fight scenes, just lots and lots of death.

What's the story?

Milo (Kit Harington) is the only survivor after Roman soldiers massacre everyone in his village of horsemen. In POMPEII, he eventually grows up to be a champion gladiator who leaves a pile of corpses in his wake whenever he sets foot in the arena. Cassia (Emily Browning), the daughter of a nobleman, falls for Milo, but their dangerous romance means he has incurred the wrath of a Roman senator (Kiefer Sutherland) besotted with Cassia. As Mt. Vesuvius erupts, the couple must find a way to escape him and their doomed city.

Is it any good?


Pompeii is set in the Roman city, but doesn't really feel like a historical drama. The gladiator characters provides a reason for scene after scene filled with hand-to-hand combat sequences, and the neighboring volcano justifies some big-scale fire-and-flood destruction. Somewhere in there, the filmmakers manage to squeeze in an improbable love affair between a handsome gladiator and the daughter of a local nobleman, and their courtship unfurls like a modern-day dramedy, complete with a star-crossed lovers storyline, stereotypical parents (the dad complains of her having too much luggage, a complaint that doesn't feel like it belongs in a period movie) who may not understand their affections; a best friend to confer with, and a lecherous politician (Sutherland, not his best role) who wants what he can't have.

Pompeii loses steam long before the historic eruption quickens the pace of the movie. The parts don't meld together to create a coherent tale; they just serve to stitch together the fight scenes, which are intense and brutal, but hardly original. See it for the 3D eruption, which is quite impressive.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about history in movies. How does Pompeii compare with other historical epics? Does it seem accurate? Does the natural disaster take a back seat to the story unfolding within the city.

  • Do you think the many, many scenes of battle should have earned the film a stronger MPAA rating? What methods did the filmmakers use to lessen the impact of the violence?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:February 21, 2014
DVD release date:May 20, 2014
Cast:Carrie-Anne Moss, Emily Browning, Kiefer Sutherland, Kit Harington
Director:Paul W.S. Anderson
Studios:FilmDistrict, TriStar Pictures
Run time:102 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:intense battle sequences, disaster-related action and brief sexual content

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 15 years old Written byJflores14 February 23, 2014

Good but lots of gory action and violence

Great film with historical lessons. There is one bad word and little to no sexual content. Violence is EXTREME and is close to rated R material.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Teen, 14 years old Written byThe movie dude May 17, 2014


Look it's a decent but violent way to pass 1 hour and 45 mins .
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 13 years old Written byJeremyNaimanSpike May 10, 2014


Pompeii is pretty good movie! The visual effects are top notch! The only problems are some battle scenes with swords and on the swords, you can see blood. There is obviosly lots of death but we don't see many individual deaths besides a few. There are just a few minor cuss words. If your child can handle this, then they will enjoy it!
What other families should know
Too much violence


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