Mortal Engines is produced by Peter Jackson and directed by Christian Rivers. It follows Hester Shaw in post apocalyptic world were city’s drive around on wheels, bigger city’s like London eat smaller city’s to help power their city. Hester teams up with Tom they were both wronged by (Hugo Weaving) Valentine and try to stop him. This will likely become one of those “Nightmare before Christmas” scenarios considering the marketing was done poorly and a lot of people will think Peter Jackson directed this, granted he did write and produce it.
This film has a lot going for it on and off the camera,amazing production design, and impressive visual effects. The film is very large in scope, quite a few characters thrown in as well. There is very little back story given here, we get a few flashbacks throughout that kind of hint at why things are happening and what might happen. Main characters are basically used as fillers to move the story along.
The biggest problem with “Mortal Engines” is that it feels like the 3rd film in a trilogy, like we skipped the 1st 2 entries, the development just isn’t there. They drove past the essential story elements and basically subbed then in as flashbacks. I felt for the main character and one of the other low level co-stars that’s referred to as Shrike (looks like a combination of Tin-man and Terminator), they have a troubled connection that drives a sub-plot that’s a bit interesting but again very little back-story here.
Hugo Weaving (“The Matrix”) plays a power hungry mayor of London who only wants more power he’s holding a secret from the past that likely be his downfall.There’s nothing there to really get in line with his point of view.
Tom’s a bit of a vagabond likes to collect old tech, and Hester saves him more than once, but she notices that he’s earnestly taken with her, and stands by her when he has a chance to bolt, something that resonates with her-past. I’d like to say that sparks fly, but the chemistry between these two-actors is nonexistent (hurt by some bad dialogue) and it’s a big problem for “Mortal Engines”, a movie desperately short on emotion (despite a loud score designed to cue them). There is actually more depth of feeling between Hester and Shrike (Stephen Lang) the robot dispatched to killer her.
There’s also a rebel leader (Jihae) with Matrix eyewear, a flowing coat, and a cool sidearm, and while that seems like a loving homage, other forms of borrowing are less excusable, especially as they make the movie predictable.
The finale is pure Star Wars. London-on-Wheels essentially turns into a death star with a weapon that must be disabled before it destroys the stronghold of the rebel alliance. Airborne fighters swoop in, dodging deck guns, sorry no light sabers.
In the steampunk future, scores are settled with knives.
The movie also has a hint of “Mad Max: Fury Road” with the over all look and feel and just like with that film the 3D format here is wasted which is surprising considering Peter Jackson the “Hobbit Trilogy” helmer produced it. Considering this film is already a big time box office bomb its unlikely they will continue it of better yet make a prequel. This is apparently based on a book series which I never heard of.
PG-13 (for sequences of futuristic violence and action)
REVIEW SCORE/ C+