Disaster epic POMPEII opens tonight in theaters nationwide. No doubt you already know this. Tristar’s non-stop media blitz between figure skating sessions, curling matches, and updates on the Bob Costas eye-infection saga have seen to that. But what you probably don’t know is that the screenplay for POMPEII was scripted by two of the most loved and respected screenwriters of faith in Hollywood: Lee and Janet Scott Batchler.
Like all screenwriters who sell their beloved work of art to a studio or production company (who then have absolute control over changing it in any way they deem best), Janet and Lee can’t vouch for everything you’ll see. Their faithful adaptation of Robert Harris’s meticulously researched historical novel helped them learn, in Janet’s words, “more about volcanoes (and about this particular volcano) than any reasonable person should,” and carried a compelling character arc in the film’s hero, Milo (Kit Harington of Game of Thrones). Sadly, much of that depth is missing from the onscreen version. Director Paul W.S. Anderson (Resident Evil) isn’t exactly known for his subtly and POMPEII is no exception. The action sequences are stunning, while character development is significantly weaker.
Still, $100 million in special effects make this entertaining spectacle of a morality tale well worth an evening’s investment, and by going tonight, you’ll be helping Lee and Janet shine in an industry focused on little more than first weekend’s box office numbers. Janet suggests, “Think of it as contributing to a Kickstarter, or clicking on a Doritos ad, only on a bigger screen.” So go see POMPEII tonight (or at least this weekend.) It could be some of the best artistic patronage you will ever invest in two of the best people you could ever know.