Mortal Engines (2018)

mortal engines poster 2018 movie
5.5 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 7/10

Some interesting visuals

Introduces too many characters, too many plotlines, and bogs down the story

Movie Info

Movie Name: Mortal Engines

Studio: WingNut Films

Genre(s): Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  November 27, 2018 (Premiere)/December 14, 2018 (US)

MPAA Rating: PG-13

mortal engines hester shaw tom natsworthy hera hilmar robert sheehan

Hester, I liked you more in your “We must destroy G.I. Joe!” look better

The Sixty Second War destroyed much of the Earth.  Now a thousand years later, the people of the Earth live in moving cities that threaten to cannibalize each other for resources and energy.  The massive city of London has moved to the mainland and is consuming everything in its path at the controls of Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo Weaving) who vows to protect the people of his city.  When Valentine is targeted by a mysterious woman named Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar), a historian named Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan) finds himself lost in the wilds with Hester fighting for survival.  Meanwhile in London, Valentine is working on an unspeakable evil, and his daughter Katherine (Leila George) and an engineer named Bevis Pod (Ronan Raftery) are out to uncover what it is.

Directed by Christian Rivers, Mortal Engines is an adaptation of Philip Reeve’s young adult novel first published in 2001.  Produced by Peter Jackson, the movie was a critical failure and a massive financial failure as well.

With Harry Potter and the crossover nature of that series, there were a big boom of young adult books.  Books like The Hunger Games and Twilight really became their own fan favorites, but there were also just a number of books that seemed to have similar titles and ideas.  Mortal Engines was one of those books and as a result has the same problem as a movie.

mortal engines bevis pod katherine valentine leila george donofrio ronan raftery

Here are some more characters doing some other stuff…

I can see what the writer was doing with the story.  Harry Potter (like Star Wars) was loaded with characters, and fans began to adopt and know everything about the smallest character to the largest.  Rowling smartly introduced lots of characters in the early books, but it wasn’t really about those characters, and they would develop later.  Mortal Engines keeps adding and adding characters to the already bloated story.  Be it the fighter pilots with Anna Fang (Jihae) or the whole storyline surrounding Bevis and Katherine, it feels like they were supposed to be bigger characters in the sequels and instead they bogged down the basic intro story.

The script is rather clunky for a lot of the actors, and it is one of those films that I have a hard time judging their acting ability based on it when they are having to say and do.  The dialogue doesn’t really roll off the tongue (especially when they are running around).  Hugo Weaving always makes a good villain and I like Hera Hilmar, but many of the male leads are rather generic.  The movie waits too long to introduce more interesting characters like Anna Fang and the creepy Shrike (played by Stephen Lang), and it hurts the cast.

mortal engines shrike stephen lang

Ok…this thing is kind of creepy. Too bad it was about 40 minutes into the movie before they decided to introduce him

The movie does look pretty good.  I like the steampunk nature of the vehicles and surroundings in a world where steampunk is the future instead of the past (which it often is).  As mentioned, Shrike is pretty impressive, but the “ha-ha” things like the Minion statues are a bit too tongue-in-cheek for the rest of the film.

Mortal Engines is a bit of a snoozer.  I could see it picking up fans over the years and getting a cult following.  However, as I watched it as it adds story upon story upon story with the realization that the ending will probably not be satisfactory, made the whole film a bit of a struggle.  The bombing of the movie most likely damned future installments, but you can never say never…but don’t hit a ride on this city.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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