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‘Pompeii’ lacks fireworks

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POMPEII

You wonder if Paul W.S. Anderson is a director who might feel disrespected. Like the Jack Arnold school’s most determined student, Anderson can lend surprising legitimacy to a franchise-milking gimmick like “Alien vs. Predator” or a videogame tie-in like “Resident Evil.” For his trouble, though, he often seems to get the business from fanboys and critics alike. He gets the chance to make his next B movie, and that’s about it. Heck, he even had to tack on the “W.S.” a few movies into his career because Paul Thomas Anderson commandeered the name with, you know, respectable films like “Magnolia.”

Now comes “Pompeii,” Anderson’s stab at rendering the Mount Vesuvius catastrophe with a 3-D “Titanic” gloss. And you wonder some more: Is this simply the latest project to grab his interest or a calculated bid to help him break out in a way he never has?

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