Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans

A Relaxing, Funny And Enjoyable Family Film

by Liselotte Vanophem

7.5

THE QUICK SELL
Roman teenager Atti is forced to join the Roman Army when one of his clever schemes falls foul of Emperor Nero. He is sent to "miserable, cold, wet Britain" where "the natives are revolting

RELEASE DATE
26th July 2019

DIRECTED BY
Dominic Brigstocke

WRITTEN BY
Caroline Norris, Giles Pilbrow, Kevin Cecil, Andy Riley, Jessica Swale

Running Time:
1h 32min

Certificate:
PG

 
 

Were you one of those people who loved history during your studentship? From Roman warriors to the Greek culture. You had a passion for it. Were you the student who always sat as far as possible at the back during history class?

Well, doesn’t matter to which category you belong, you can all now come together to watch the latest Dominic Brigstocke film (“Horrible Histories (TV)”, “Horrible Histories With Stephen Fry (TV)”).

With his “Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans”, he brings the books from Terry Deary to the big screen and gives a humouristic, musical and family-friendly twist to Roman history.

It’s celebration day. Emperor Nero (Craig Roberts) is finally coming of age! He’s ready to take over the throne from his mother Agrippina (Kim Cattrall) after his dad Claudio (Derek Jacobi) died years ago from not so natural causes.

Every head of state of his Roman empire is bringing him gifts. The most unique but unroyal gift comes from “the stain” Britain. It’s Roman warriors sweat but it’s absolutely not what it seems due to the funny but stupid prank from Atti (Sebastian Croft), a young Roman who’s always up for adventures.

As punishment for his prank, he’s being sent to Nero’s army to go to Britain but he doesn’t want to join the army and fight. However, if there’s a person who would love to fight to prove herself, it’s Orla (Emilia Jones), a youthful resolute Celtic girl.

To prove her worth and strength to her headstrong father Arghus (Nick Frost), she wants to go to battle with Boudicca’s (Kate Nash) army. Boudicca is recruiting an army to claim her heritage after her late husband gave it to Nero.

Atti and Orla paths cross when she takes him hostage and demonstrate her strength. Although he escapes, they keep on bumping into each other. The hostile relationship changes into something else and they decide to help each other out whenever they can.

While all this is happening in the Celtic village, Nero does everything he can to get rid of his nosy mother in Rome. As you already notice, with so many different people come a lot of problems, wars, and fights. Who will claim victory and who will go down as the biggest loser in history?

If you’re a history lover or you’ve immersed yourself in the original books, you know in which direction this film will go. However, you have no idea how funny history can be. Although “Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans” never makes you burst out with laughter, it will constantly put a smile on your face.

Clearly, Dominic and his team aren’t afraid of making fun of British history. In our interview with him, he mentioned that “that there’s a great British tradition in making fun of our past” and that exactly what happens in this film.

Ok yes, some jokes are incredibly predictable and hearing a joke more than one time can be annoying once in a while but despite those flaws, the humour is excellent.

When making a film in which humour is key, you need a cast who can pull it off. Saying that this cast can do it would be an understatement.

If we have to believe Rattus Rattus, the narrator, and the funny, witty and comical performance of Craig Roberts (“Tolkien”, “Bittersweet Symphony”), Maximus was a silly, heated but not so very smart emperor.

If you’ve seen him as the Young Ned Stark as a child in Game of Thrones, you know that Sebastian Croft knows how to wield sword and shield and that’s exactly what he does in this film. He also brings a lot of laughter, charms, and banter to this film as Roman “soon-to-be” warrior Atti.

His courageous, impulsive and loving frenemy Orla is portrayed wonderfully by Emilia Jones (“High-Rise”, “Two for Joy”). She’s the woman your young girls will look up to in this movie.

Playing her farther is the hilarious, entertaining and pleasant Nick Frost (“Fighting With My Family”, “Slaghterhouse Rulez”).

Highly remarkable, funny and clever performances also come from the great Derek Jacobi (“Murder on the Orient Express”, “I, Claudius”) as Claudius, the amusing Kim Cattrall (“Sex and the City 2”, “Meet Monica Velour”), the stunning Kate Nash (“Powder Room”, “Syrup”) as Boudicca, the fierce Rupert Graves (“Swimming with Men”, “Silencio”) as Paulinus and the humorous Lee Mack (“Semi-Detached”, “Dick Whittington) as Decimus.

Apart from the humour and great casting, the lack of VFX effects is what makes this movie such a relief. No fake landscapes, no CGI soldiers or no fake fantasy creatures. Just the natural beauty of Britain, real people, and actual fights. At least it seems like that.

If you have children, then you know that their summer holiday is already halfway but no need to get depressed or getting into a bad mood. Just go with the whole family to “Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans”. You will have a wonderful, funny and relaxing time.

Read our interview with director Dominic Brigstocke here.

Read our interview with writer Terry Deary here.

Read our interview with actor Sebastian Croft here.

 

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