Tuesday, December 3, 2019

By the Gods!

Duncan Regehr plays the dominant gladiator in THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII (1984 mini-series)

At over 5 and half hours long, watching the entire series is a chore, or at least to me it is. I'm a massive fan for this stuff and yet I can barely sit through this mini-series from beginning to end. For those who are too young to know, mini-series were like a TV series but condensed in a few long episodes. Sorta bing watching before bing watching was a thing. The first episode is 2 and half hours long and the 2 subsequent episodes are roughly 90 minutes in length. With commercials, the first episode was 3 hours long, and episodes 2 and 3 were 2 hours long each. That's 7 hours.

The production itself is amazing. One of the best looking PEPLUM productions ever filmed. The cast is excellent with Nicholas Clay being one of the few memorable characters. There's also Franco Nero and Marilu Tolo in it. Everyone with clashing accents. Overall the entire production is quite solid but for me nearly all the characters are boring. And since there are gazillion characters to follow (a standard practice in mini-series), it's amazing how this important aspect was overlooked. One of a mini-series' selling point was seeing popular actors, who mainly worked on TV, play roles unlike the one they were famous for. Back then, this tactic worked in attracting viewers but today it's more quaint than anything else. The uncut version has all the annoying stop-frame and fade-to-black outros before commercials were shown. Editing them out would help move things along.

Canadian Duncan Regehr is physically impressive but his 80s look sorta takes the realism away from this elaborate mini-series. Everything looks right (if a bit too clean cut) and then the 'Let's Get Physical' gladiator shows up. The production is not helped with the fact that the gladiator scenes or action scenes are bad, or ineffective. Bad angles, bad editing, and bad composition. The gladiator scenes should be riveting but here they're more clunky than action-packed. A feast for the eyes but hardly compelling.

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