Film Reviews


Wednesday, 26th June 2019, 11:50 am
Updated Wednesday, 24th July 2019, 4:06 pm
Horrible Histories: The Movie - Rotten Romans. Picture PA.
Horrible Histories: The Movie - Rotten Romans. Picture PA.

Based on Terry Deary's popular children's book series, Horrible Histories: The Movie - Rotten Romans expands on one tattered page from our inglorious national past for 92 minutes of toilet humour-laden edutainment punctuated by rumbustious songs.

Rattus Rattus, the puppet vermin host of the small-screen incarnation, is consigned to a pastiche of the MGM company logo at the beginning of the film and a brief coda to confirm any stomach-churning facts underpinning the on-screen tomfoolery.

Bodily fluids are used as easy punchlines and wanton violence is cartoonish, such as when one character is decapitated and a woman who catches the severed noggin inquires aloud: "Anyone missing a head?"


Let there be light!

Sadly, there is only gloom in director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon's turgid period drama, which promises to illuminate the hard-fought battle of words and copper wires between Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch) and entrepreneur George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon) in the late 19th century.

The two men publicly disagreed about the best electrical system to usher America out of the gas-powered age - Edison advocated direct current while Westinghouse tethered his hopes to alternating current.

Michael Mitnick's script leaves us in the dark about the pivotal role played by maverick Croatian inventor Nikola Tesla (Nicholas Hoult) but Texan filmmaker Gomez-Rejon is determined to energise this laboured history lesson with flashy camerawork.

His showmanship behind the lens is particularly distracting in the film's opening 20 minutes, when we should be getting to know characters rather than suffering a mild bout of dizziness from the technical trickery.