Director: Dominic Brigstocke
Cast: Sebastian Croft, Emilia Jones, Nick Frost, Craig Roberts, Kim Cattrall, Derek Jacobi, Kate Nash, Rupert Graves, Alex Macqueen
Runtime: 1 hr 33 mins
Rating: PG (Some Violence)
Released By: Shaw Organisation
Opening Day: 12 September 2019
Synopsis: The world’s best-selling children’s history brand is coming to cinemas this summer! Atti is a Roman teenager with brains but very little brawn. When one of his schemes falls foul of Emperor Nero, Atti is forced to join the army and sent to miserable, cold, wet Britain. Things go from bad to worse when Atti is captured by Orla, a feisty teenage Celt desperate to prove herself as a warrior. Meanwhile a furious Nero is determined to crush the British rebellion, led by Boudicca. As the Romans prepare for an historic showdown with the Celts at the Battle of Watling Street, the two new friends find themselves lined up on opposite sides of the battlefield.
We asked ourselves: What is the point of this movie directed by Dominic Brigstocke? Is there a reason why we are watching this comedy on the big screen? And what exactly is “Horrible Histories”?
Turns out that we have been ignorant. The movie is based on a British TV series which uses comedy and musical sequences to tell stories on actual historic events. Rewind things a bit - the series is based on a series of children’s history books of the same name. The tone for these two mediums is similarly irreverent, and employs laughs to focu son the dark and gruesome aspects of history. Familiar topics would include the Stone Age to the post World War II era, where things got quite bloody.
Now it makes sense, because the protagonist of this film is a Roman teenager who isn’t a hunk as you’d expect. What he lacks in body mass is made up with brains. One of his clever ideas to get some quick bucks upsets the emperor, who sends him to Britain. There, he is captured by the Celts and eventually becomes involved in the Battle of Watling Street
Viewers who scored in world history would find this story engaging, and laugh at how it is played out on screen with comedy. Although the song and dance sequences aren’t grand, they are refreshing and will definitely milk a few chuckles. For the rest of us who have no clue about the important series of events that happened that era will have to settle with the gags that take place throughout the movie’s 93 minute runtime.
It is not difficult to understand what’s going on, and the funny way the story is told will keep you engaged. Adults will appreciate the humour (the lyrics of the catchy songs are particularly hilarious), while the young ones will laugh at the physical humour (someone falling into a mud pool can cheer you up on a moody day). You may even go home to find out more about what really happened in real life after watching the very accessible comedy.
While you may not know who Sebastian Croft and Emilia Jones are, Nick Frost and Kim Cattrall are familiar faces. Each cast member seemed to have a fun time on set, especially during the musical sequences where they can perform some cheesy dances like they did at prom. As long as you are not expecting an elaborate set with complicated choreography, these scenes are fun and enjoyable.
The same goes for the production values of this fairly straightforward movie. Do not go into the theatres expecting grandeur just because the story is about epic battles and large scale gladiator fights which happened during that time. The depictions are on a much, much smaller scale which does its job to make you laugh. This is an adequate comedy that doesn’t want too much from its viewers, just a few giggles which are enough to lift your mood for the day. Bring your kids to the cinemas to enjoy this lightweight production.
(Just enough laughs to entertain and make you understand a bit about how bloody this part of history was)
Review by John Li