To judge by early reviews of Paul W.S. Anderson‘s Pompeii (Sony, 2.21), the following HE piece about a 2007 visit to the actual Pompeii is probably a bit more interesting than the film. I’ll never know, of course, as I’d rather jump off the Santa Monica Pier at midnight than see it. The CG zombie-whore vibe is like the stench of carrion. Update: Disdain doesn’t cut it. Sony never invited me to a screening so I’ll be paying to see Pompeii early Friday.

“With spooky, half-shaped visions of Roman Polanski‘s Pompeii flashing in my head, Hollywood Elsewhere visited the Pompeii ruins yesterday,” I wrote on 5.31.07. “I’m very glad I went — this is the best-preserved ancient Roman city anywhere, covered as it was and frozen in time by tons of ash that spewed out of Mount Vesuvius on August 24, 79 AD. The problem is that I was too cheap to buy a map or go with a tour group, and by the end of our visit I’d come across only one lousy plaster-covered body.

“The frescoes and the pottery and the precisely preserved apartments and villas are fascinating, but let’s be honest — if you come to Pompeii, you want to see how the citizens met their doom. You want freeze-frame death statues of people going “aaaah, this hurts!” And in this respect, Pompeii struck me as a faint ripoff. There should be bodies everywhere, in every house. Bodies of men, women, children, dogs, horses. Plus there were no chariots or carts. Or none that I came across.

“On top of which the area just outside Pompeii’s ancient walls looks like a cross between Orlando Disney World and the border approach in Tijuana. Scores of ticky-tacky motels, gross souvenir shops, low-grade pizzerias and fruit stands. Jett found it disgraceful, saying that the commerce dishonors the dead.”