[Review] Time traveller back in hot water

By Young Wang
By Young Wang |

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Lucius Modestus, an architect of spas in ancient Rome, finds himself back in hot water - literally - in the time-travel Japanese comedy sequel, Thermae Romae II.

The original 2012 film, Thermae Romae - which means "Roman bath" - was based on Mari Yamazaki's hit manga of the same name. It sees Lucius (Hiroshi Abe) frequently travelling to modern-day Japan to find ideas to revolutionise Roman baths.

New challenges are added in Thermae Romae II. In 136 AD, peace-loving Emperor Hadrianus (Masachika Ichimura), who prefers baths to battles, asks Lucius to build a spa where gladiators can soothe their injuries. Once again Lucius is sucked into a mysterious time portal and "travels" to modern Japan to find inspiration.

Lucius is surprised to discover advanced inventions such as massage chairs, and Japanese delicacies, such as ramen noodle. He is also inspired to build spas for children, the elderly, and soldiers - and then is told to build a "thermae" to achieve peace. Can it be done?

There are some good laughs here, but time travelling every 10 minutes gets a little repetitive. The film also tries to cram in too many elements - war, conspiracy, romance, idealism and family values - into its 113 minutes. It's far too much for a comedy.