horrible histories

Film review: Horrible Histories

Ben Peyton reviews Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans

Director: Dominic Brigstocke

Starring: Sebastian Croft, Emilia Jones, Nick Frost, Craig Roberts, Kate Nash, Kim Cattrall, Rupert Graves, Lee Mack, Warwick Davis, Alexander Armstrong, Joanna Bacon and Derek Jacobi.


Those horrible historians have been entertaining and educating children, adults and probably teachers for over a decade now and finally make their big screen debut with Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans.

Focusing on a petulant Nero’s (Roberts) ascent to Roman Emperor and feisty Boudicca’s (Nash) uprising in England, we follow reluctant Roman Soldier Atti (Croft) and wannabe Celtic warrior Orla (Jones) as the pair form an unlikely friendship amidst all the mayhem.

Combining their traditional use of historical fact mixed with humour and songs, it’s always risky making that leap from television to film and this is another of those shows that doesn’t quite achieve the desired height.

horrible histories

It certainly has its moments and there are some very funny nods to films such as Spartacus, Gladiator and Life of Brian, but the real shame is not allowing the stars of the series a chance to shine. Here, relegated to supporting artists, the regulars barely feature replaced by bigger names such as Alexander Armstrong, Lee Mack, Rupert Graves and Kim Cattrall. CBBC veterans including Tom Stourton, Jalaal Hartley, Richard David-Caine and Dominique Moore are all given token scenes which is a real waste of their considerable talents. Indeed, you only have to watch the magnificent Moore as Rosa Parks belting out “I Sat on A Bus”, (series 5, episode 1) to see why she deserved more screen time and most definitely a song.

Croft and Jones make an engaging pair, Kate Nash showcases her talents, albeit singing a song we’ve heard before in the series, and Rupert Graves hams it up in soldierly style whilst the rest of the cast make the most of what they’re given.

The pee, puke and poo gags will amuse the kids, but become tiresome after the first few explosions, and there simply aren’t enough funny jokes to justify the 92 minute running time. More suited to the smaller screen, the HH team still have a lot to teach, but hopefully they themselves will learn from these missed opportunities.