Horrible Histories: The Movie- Rotten Romans is a British historical comedy film, based on the best selling Horrible Histories books and the hit TV series. The plot follows a Celt girl called Orla, (Emilia Jones), and a young Roman boy called Atti, (Sebastian Croft), as they go from captor and captive to unlikely friends, all the while Boudica, (Kate Nash), and her Celtic tribe fight against the Romans.
Since I was young, I’ve been a huge fan of Horrible Histories, the original incarnation of the TV series is still some of if not the finest kids television out there. It is entertaining and informative; with a lot for people of all ages to enjoy. Needless to say, I went into this with pretty high expectations.
Straight off the bat, I was saddened by the fact that most of the original cast from the television show don’t make an appearance; not even a cameo. That certainly hurts the film. However, we do get some excellent newcomers mainly in Glow’s Kate Nash, who here plays British legend Boudica, Nash is incredibly cool and stylish and really sells the character. She steals every scene she is in especially when they do a rendition of the Boudica song from the series.
Therein lies another one of my complaints about the film, it feels too reliant on the TV series, it has many winks and nods to gags and songs that made the original so beloved, which isn’t in itself a bad thing. What makes it a bad thing though is that Horrible Histories the Movie has nothing new, it has nothing to offer besides these winks and nods. Except for Kate Nash’s Boudica, all the new characters we meet in this outing are utterly forgettable, which is a crying shame as the actors themselves are quite talented. Nick Frost and Craig Roberts are both capable of adding a lot to a film, but here feel hamstrung by a weak and predictable script.
The Show is broken up into sketches, these sketches cover everything from Vikings to Victorians, they don’t linger on any one period for too long. That is another thing this film falls prey to the entire runtime is dedicated to the ‘Rotten Romans’, and it becomes apparent after a while that there isn’t enough material to cover this length of time. This lead to long sequences that feel incredibly drawn out, not adding much to the overall plot instead just being boring.
Overall this film is the textbook definition of a missed opportunity, the absence of the original cast is felt strongly, and even a show-stopping performance by Kate Nash can’t change that. It is passable and inoffensive, but if you want to see the masterpiece that is Horrible Histories watch the 2009 series, I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Review by Luke