16th Aug2019

‘Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans’ Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Sebastian Croft, Emilia Jones, Nick Frost, Craig Roberts, Kate Nash, Kim Cattrall, Derek Jacobi, Rupert Graves, Warwick Davis, Alexander Armstrong, Kevin Bishop, Chris Addison | Written by Caroline Norris, Giles Pilbrow | Directed by Dominic Brigstocke


Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans is the long-awaited feature film version of the infamous British television show of the same name. The first of presumably many spin-offs, Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans focuses on as the title description states the Romans. The film follows Atti (Sebastian Croft) who gets into trouble with the new emperor Nero (Craig Roberts) and as punishment is sent to Britain, AKA the Stain. Atti is soon taken captive by Orla (Emilia Jones), a young wannabe warrior, while in the background the rise of Boudicca (Kate Nash) against the Romans begins.

First and foremost Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans, for the intended target audience, is a blast. The tone and charisma are wonderfully engaging throughout with bubbling energy. At times said energy is delivered at a speed of 110% but thankfully does not overload the system. The film is not necessarily overly childish but does cater towards that specific substantial minority; however, Dominic Brigstocke’s film has a delicate balance of the more edgier and riskier content that somewhat elevates the feature for the younger adult-oriented audiences also to enjoy.

Emilia Jones as Orla is a terrific stand out in a packed-out feature. The young actress puts forward an engaging and hearty performance as a young willed warrior with warming charisma. If anything Jones is underused in a film that chooses to go for excess characters instead of a strong lead focus on one specific character. The sheer number of British comedians and performers included in this feature are vast and incredibly dense. Lee Mack, Nick Frost, Craig Roberts, Warwick Davis, Alexander Armstrong and Derek Jacobi are all, but a few of household names, that are used sparingly but are undoubtedly part of the fabric. It is an aspect that a domestic viewer can appreciate how, even with how the franchise has evolved onto the big screen, it remains fundamentally British. The opposite side of that argument is the limitation of intrigue on an international platform. If the viewer is looking in from an international perspective much of the names and stars will not particularly stand out, aside from Kim Cattrall, and with how fundamentally British the film is, it will sadly struggle to breakthrough on many international markets.

Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans, on the whole, is not massively impressive with how it is constructed in terms of the film making. It is devised in the same manner as it on the smaller screen with tight setups and constant close-ups by cinematographer John Sorapure that only reinforces how bland and cheap-looking the production design is throughout. The edit by Nigel Williams personifies that of the target audience with it being snappy and concise, especially the montage/music video sequences that are produced in a genuinely frantic construction that will undoubtedly age the whole film like milk in the next few years.

Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans is in cinemas now.


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