Standout character: Shrike, solid arc and amazing design. (You have seen this character in the trailer).
Mortal Engines (2018)
User ReviewsReview this title
Standout character: Shrike, solid arc and amazing design. (You have seen this character in the trailer).
So I thought the high concept of the movie - motorized cities rolling on land - might seem ridiculous, but I gotta admit it worked for me and made the movie feel fresh. That starting chase sequence between the two towns was original and memorable. There were other spectacular action sequences, including one involving buzzsaws, with great special effects, but I gotta admit the melee fights were weak as they were of the chaotic, frantic-cut variety, except perhaps those involving Shrike that were better. Regarding that undead cyborg Shrike, I loved pretty much everything about him: his look, the way he moved, his back story and his story arc. Probably my favorite character, but the others were interesting too, and the acting was solid overall.
The production design was excellent with several fascinating cities and/or vehicles with a certain steampunk design vibe. Special mention to the location where the giant London tank threads passed. Visual effects were outstanding with sights you might never have seen before. Music was very good and appropriately grand when called for. I liked the story despite feeling a slight déjà-vu in the last part. This future world creation based on the novels was very well portrayed and captivating to me, and I wanted to learn more about it. Overall, the film was a very nice surprise, quite different than the usual sci-fi/fantasy blockbuster, at least in its setting. To be honest, until the last act I was going to recommend this film without any real reserves, but then it felt as if had to explain certain things.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10 (Remarkable)
But all doesn't go entirely smoothly for the UK capital. The Lord Mayor of London (Patrick Malahide) declares "We should never have gone into Europe. It's the biggest mistake we ever made". (Classic: how we SNORTED with laughter!)
Stuffing it squarely to the 'remainers', London makes its own future. "It's time to show the world how strong London can be". Having conquered most of Europe, it's time to set its sights on new markets to conquer: so London takes the Chinese on! (Now the tears of laughter are flowing freely!) Trade deals have never been more entertaining since "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace"!
OK, so in the interests of 'advertising standards', I'd better make clear before you rush out to the cinema expecting a comedy feature that my tongue is firmly in my cheek here. For "Mortal Engines" is the latest sci-fi feature from Peter Jackson. But when viewed from a Brexit perspective, it's hilarious!
In terms of plot, this (like "Waterworld") makes clever use of the Universal logo to set the agenda. The world has been decimated with a worldwide war - though clearly one that selectively destroyed bits of London and not others! - and the survivors must try to survive in any way they can. Settlements are divided between those that are 'static' and those (like London) that are mobile and constantly evolving: "Municipal Darwinism" as it is hysterically described. But London, or rather the power-crazed Londoner Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo Weaving), wants revolution rather than evolution and he is working on development of one of the super-weapons that started the world's demise in the first place.
But Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar), separated when young from her mother Pandora (yes, she has a box and we've seen it: wink, wink) is intent on stopping him, since she is on a personal path of vengence. Teaming up with Londoner Tom (Robert Sheehan) and activist Anna Fang (Jihae) they must face both Thaddeus and the ever-relentless Shrike (Stephen Lang) to try to derail the destructive plan.
Anna Fang declares "I'm not subtle" and neither is this movie. The film is loud and action-filled and (as a significant plus) visually extremely impressive with it. I'm not a great fan of excessive CGI but here it is essential, and the special-effects team do a great job. The production design is tremendous - a lot of money has been thrown at this - and the costume design inventive, a high-spot (again snortworthy) being the Beefeater guards costumes!
Where the film really crashes, like a post-Brexit stock market, is with the dialogue. The screenplay by Jackson himself, with his regular writers Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyens contains some absolute clunkers, notwithstanding the unintended LOL-worthy Brexit irony. It's jaw-droppingly bad, believe me.
As for 'the turns', the only real "name" in the whole film is Jackson-favourite Hugo Weaving. Just about everyone else in the cast is pretty well unknown, and in many cases it shows. Standing head and shoulders though for me over the rest of the cast was Icelandic actress Hera Hilmar, who strikes a splendidly feisty pose as the mentally and physically scarred Hester. I look forward to seeing what she does next.
Story-wise, there's not a sci-fi film that's not been looted, and a number of other films seem to be plundered too. (I can't comment on how much of this comes from the source book by Philip Reeve). The Londonmobile looks for all the world like Monty Python's "Crimson Permanent Assurance Company"; the teenage female lead is Sarah Connors, relentlessly pursued by The Terminator; the male lead is archaologist cum hot-shot pilot Indiana Solo, leather jacket and all; there is a Blade Runner moment; a battle that is a meld of "The Great Wall" and Morannon from "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers"; a less sophisticated aerial location from "The Empire Strikes Back"; and another classic Star Wars moment (without the words being actually said!).
Now I'm loathe to say anything bad about director Peter Jackson, after his breathtakingly memorable "They Shall Not Grown Old". And the film has its moments of flair, most memorably a "life flashing before your eyes scene" that I found genuinely moving. But overall, as an actioner, it's a bit of a mess. It's a long way from being the worse film I've seen this year by a long stroke - it kept me interested and amused in equal measure for the running time. But I think given it's initially bombed at the Box Office, any plans Jackson had to deliver a series of these movies might need to be self-funded.
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Zero empathy for characters, wasted talent of Hugo Weaving - the only reason why I want to watch this movie. Although the first scene of the movie looks promising.
Another thing that I hate about this movie, there's some line in this movie like "I don't want to tell you." then they looking at each other, and then "5 years ago..." and I'm like.. w-what.. the hell...
The nuanced villain has become almost comic book, despite Hugo Weaving's best efforts and the changes to make the Star Wars like ending took the tragedy from the finale. Hester seems hollow and her affection for Tom seems forced. Tom doesn't get to be our unwitting hero, with all his bravery that breaks down Hester removed and the tragic end is turned into an explosive pyrotechnic fest. Even Shrike's story is broken for no good reason, just to make Valentine even more evil and Tom less heroic. What a shame.
So, if you've not read the book, give it a go - there are far worse films - if you have, beware.
The plot is very solid where we get an introduction of what the Mortal Engines and these moving cities are all about, then we get an understanding who the main heroes/villains are followed by some plot development and a grand finale with the possibility of ending the series here and now or continuing following the books.
Overall a good movie with great cinematography, interesting plot with potential for the future. There is nothing jaw-dropping or over the top action or deep meaning behind actions. See the trailer to know if this is your kind of movie. If you enjoy the trailer, you will enjoy the movie... as simple as that.
Basicly what you are watching is a movie that almost seems to aim to be the next terrible tween trilogy. But... the story is not half bad. Filled with plotholes, obnoxious characters and refusing to explain just WHY THEY HAVE TO DRIVE THEIR CITIES!? but overall enjoyable.
The true attrection however is the scenery and boy is it worth it. The cities look amazing, the planes, buildings and everything in the film is dressed to impress. It made me want to crawl through the screen and just marvel at the beauty of it all.
So yeah! The movie is kinda like watching an anime like Howls moving castle without subtitles. I have no idee what they are trying to say but it sure looks nice.
Cons: -Villain/Antagonist motivation is weak and also its backstory -Supporting characters are flat -Unnecessary sub plots
Score: -2.5/5 Chili Peppers
- The story itself has some flaws, it has a weak world building. It's antagonist has weak qualities of a good villain where you could hate him in the entire film. The movie also suffers from the lack of good backstory for the supporting characters and some of its protagonist motivation. Some subplots are not needed in the film , it just make the film longer and dragging.
A film that feels like it's come out too late in the dystopian piece, this Peter Jackson produced blockbuster has had a tough time convincing audiences that they should spend their hard earned dollars on catching it while it plays in cinemas but despite my low expectations and willingness to be pleasantly surprised, Engines left me cold, empty and rather disappointed in that it failed so miserably in giving its world a chance to succeed.
So many elements of debut director Christian Rivers cinematic tale feel underutilised, under-cooked and under-developed, as we are quickly introduced to a future world landscape where humans have decided to build moving cities and roam the planet searching for resources, after a cataclysmic event wiped out a large portion of Earth's population and civilisations.
Before you have much of chance to blink, we're introduced to a moving London, Hugo Weaving's scheming Thaddeus Valentine, Robert Sheehan's kind-hearted history buff Tom Natsworthy and Hera Hilmar's main protagonist Hester Shaw, who seeks vengeance against Valentine for past wrongs but in around all these introductions and numerous by the numbers action scenes, there's carefully little time spent on making any of it matter, disallowing us an audience to ever feel even slightly invested in what occurrences take place.
Its all seriously frustrating, as this steampunk world seems like one that's open for exploration and the film often looks visually stunning thanks to the VFX work and set design, but it's a cold and far to basically developed universe to feel lived in and alive.
Rivers struggles to explain why humanity decided its best option was to develop a collection of moving cities, there's almost no talk of what happened before these cities took shape and who on earth are the ancient ones and why does a Terminator named Shrike decide to adopt a human child?
These are just some of the questions and thoughts that for some reason the team behind Engines decided not to answer and you can't help but escape the feeling that a first time director wasn't the storyteller required to bring Philip Reeve's novel to the big screen, with trite dialogue, awkward pacing and bad performances a staple of this film that could've been.
You can sense the actors struggling with the material and while the only recognisable faces in the piece in the forms of Weaving and a motion captured Stephan Lang try their best gruff guy takes, relative newcomers Hilmar and Sheehan fail to inspire, while Asian megastar Jihae comes in too late in the piece to add any real spark to the piece as her rebellious pilot Anna Fang.
Final Say -
At its best a half-baked attempt to create a unique new movie universe, that's only saving graces are some neat visual flourishes, Mortal Engines is close to an entirely charmless and lifeless exercise in big budget filmmaking that appears destined to be one of the growing number of high profile failures of 2018.
2 Minions out of 5
Mortal Engines is...a film. Many films actually. Something of a patchwork of films- Mad Max, Star Wars, Waterworld, Howl's Moving Castle. That's just the surface.
Here cities have had to load themselves up on tank tracks and roam around an apocalyptic wasteland looking for fuel and food.
These gigantic monstrosities adorned with buildings, gardens, roads, and exhaust pipes never feel lived in so much as they're just eyesores.
Hugo Weaving is some big higher-up of the city of London, which is just crushing it in the whole devouring other cities thing, and he's just getting started.
Hera Hilmar plays Hester, a mopey survivalist seeking revenge on Weaving for killing her mom and scarring up her face, though not as badly as in the book cause you know, you gotta sell the teen lover angle.
Robert Sheehan is Tom, the other teen, he looks like a complete puss next to Hester and requires saving constantly.
These two encounter quirky, murderous, and freedom-fighting characters, none of which funny or memorable, as they make their way back to the final showdown with Weaving.
Of course they fall in love along the way but the movie is so fast-paced and scattered you'd hardly ever recognize they even have chemistry.
More problematic than how derivative and frankly joyless this all is is that the only real emotional beats take place in flashbacks I would have rather seen fleshed out than watch the actual movie.
The best that could be said for this is that Peter Jackson actually didn't direct it, as the marketing seems to be misleading people to think.
That dishonor goes to Christian Rivers, Jackson's storyboard artist, although it's hard to tell what drew either to this. It's a movie where even the special effects seem to be saying "we could do alot better."
If you like this, check out Craig James Review on Youtube for more
That said, enjoyable hamburger, holiday fare...
I do not recommend, save your money for a new pair of headphones or whatever it is you kids are into because that's who this movie is for.
Mortal Engines looks pretty good. The house-machines look awesome, especially the big ones. We are treated to some fine shots. Grandiose stuff. That's cool. The action is alright, nothing too special, but at times it's quite exciting. There is one fight scene though and I gotta say: someone did NOT get the memo that we don't use a million cuts any more. But there isn't that much fighting anyway, so it's not a big problem. The action that's on a bigger scale is much better. The effects look good, except from some greenscreen stuff that will not age well. (remember that one scene in King Kong? Jeeesh)
This movie really is a mixed bag. On one side it's got some creative, original ideas, on the other some overused clishees. For every creative element, there's a cringy line or two.
The characters are okay, can't say I liked anyone to a very big extent..Although Hugo Weaving does have some charisma. What's with that Tom guy? Sorry, but I just didn't like his face. Reminded me of a ventriloquist dummy, or something. Dunno.
Mortal Engines does have a cool atmosphere about it that I liked. But it is a little long, and there is especially one plot element that fell totally flat, although it was supposed to be very moving. It wasn't.
All in all a decent movie, sure to entertain at least some people.