Title – Mortal Engines (2018)
Director – Christian Rivers (feature debut)
Cast – Hera Hilmar, Robert Sheehan, Hugo Weaving, Jihae, Stephen Lang, Leila George
Plot – Set in a bleak future were a majority of the world’s population live on a collection of moving cities after a catastrophic event ruins civilization, Hester Shaw (Hilmar) and Tom (Sheehan) must work together to stop the nefarious Thaddeus Valentine (Weaving) from unleashing a devastating weapon upon the world.
“Sixty minutes is all it took to bring humanity to the very brink of extinction”
Review by Eddie on 11/12/2018
In all honesty, I wasn’t expecting much from Mortal Engines.
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