Pompeii ★★★★

Through the first half I was lamenting what I'd come to know as Anderson's trademarks: the maps, the puzzles, the slyly winking wit. He abandons the video game plotting in favor of a more traditional (the less charitable would say generic and cliched) melodrama, a PWSA does CB DeMille vibe. But the second half is one long action sequence (spoiler: the volcano blows up) and that's always a lot of fun (I am, I still believe, the world's biggest Volcano fan). But then it gets to the end, and I know why the first half had to be so serious. Those final shots don't work if the rest of the film isn't played straight. It might be the first truly moving moment in Anderson's work, and it's perfect.

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