Terumae romae (Thermae Romae) Reviews
Well, it does. Unfortunately. It never really realizes its potential and has no sense of purpose or direction. There are a few highly amusing scenes and the occasional clever plot point but on the whole it's fairly dull once you get over the sheer bizarre novelty of it. It quickly falls into a repetetive pattern: Lucius is discontented about the current bath problem - he finds a portal - he is amazed by Japanese designs - he builds a Roman version. This may have worked better in manga form or even episodic tv form than a live action movie.
Lucius never really has much of a personality beyond disappointment, joy, and anger. He does occasionally manage to pull off amusingly ridiculous facial expressions, and his comedic timing isn't bad, but the drama just falls flat.
It does get better as it goes on and develops something resembling a plot. There are imperial complications involved. But it never becomes exactly compelling. At its best it's amusingly ridiculous in an epic way. At its second best it manages to be a glorious visual feast. That's not too bad in the end. It also features the most epic bathing music you'll ever find.
Of course, the real fun in this is seeing a bunch of Japanese guys pretending to be Roman. Generally the casting is pretty good. The guy playing Hadrian is the only one who is hopelessly Japanese. The background extras are all local Italians (the outside scenes were filmed on the leftover sets from HBO's Rome in CinecittÃ ) with Japanese dialogue dubbed over them.