Mortal Engines: Film Review

I had no idea what to expect from Mortal Engines because I didn’t know anything about it besides it being produced by Peter Jackson. The trailer and lack of promo didn’t exactly fill me with confidence so I went in expecting it to be totally pants but it was decent and I enjoyed it for the most part.

The film introduces us to a completely new world, one set 1,000 years in the future when the land has been ravaged following a “sixty-minute war”. Food and fuel are scarce and while there are some static settlements, there are also “traction cities” which roam around looking for smaller traction cities to gobble up and use for fuel and workers. Once such predator city is London, effectively run by Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo Weaving).

The action begins here with Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar) attempting to kill Valentine for what he did to her mother in the past. She must team up with Tom (Robert Sheehan), who works at the London Museum, to find a way to bring Valentine down and save other cities after they are chucked off London.

I love it when films go ambitious and present us with completely new worlds. The concept of Mortal Engines, based on the 2001 young adult book by Philip Reeve, is intriguing and inventive and the steampunk look and world building are cool but it ultimately becomes quite unoriginal. Despite the unique setting, the plot is similar to a lot of young adult dystopian future/sci-fi movies, which is a shame.

I really enjoyed it in the beginning because it was interesting and I was curious about the new world we were being introduced to. I liked all the references to our tech-reliant generation and it had some fun, lighter elements in there but it loses that once they are off London. The story is pretty easy to follow and enjoyable enough but I never felt involved in it or particularly thrilled or moved by it or cared too much about the fate of the characters. The script and the action are pretty standard and by the book for the most part and it could have done with a bit more humour and personality.

I was a fan of Sheehan when he was in Misfits so it was nice to see him in a big blockbuster like this. His character was annoying at first but he’s sweet and you grow to like him. Weaving was cool, charming and evil (surprise surprise) and South Korean singer Jihae was kick ass as rebel Anna Fang. Newcomer Hilmar did well to lead the movie and added some emotional depth to the piece.

The CGI here is visually stunning – the London on wheels and the static city behind a wall are particularly impressive – and the inventive concept was strong, so it’s just a shame it failed to wow me with the story.

In cinemas Friday 14th December 

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