Thursday, December 27, 2018

Movie Review: "Mortal Engines" (2018)

Director: Christian Rivers
Year: 2018
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 8 minutes

In a post-apocalyptic world, giant, nomadic predator cities battle for supremacy and cannibalize each other for fuel. Meanwhile, a young woman seeks revenge on a prominent, power-hungry figure named Thaddeus Valentine with dark ties to her past. 

Mortal Engines 2018 movie
"Whatever it is they're doing in that church has nothing to do with God." (Image Source)
With movies like "Mortal Engines," it's best not ask too many questions about how things work because the more you dig into this story, the less sense it will make. This film is directed by Christian Rivers and is his first feature-length directorial effort. It takes massive amounts of confidence to hand over a $100 million+ project to a first-time director, but go big or go home, right, Universal? The screenplay is written by Fran Walsh, Phillipa Boyens, and Peter Jackson, and it is based on the novel by Philip Reeve. The film takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where mobile predator cities gobble up smaller cities for their resources. The story revolves around a young woman named Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar), who is seeking revenge against Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo Weaving), the man who killed her mother. Thaddeus is a former archeologist who has risen to power on the predator city of London. He is hungry for even more power and thinks his new "energy" project will achieve that for him. What Thaddeus and his team are actually developing is a weapon that will help him bring down the stronghold of rooted cities. Hester must find a way to work with historian Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan), who has just discovered who Thaddeus really is as a person, to stop him before it is too late.
Mortal Engines 2018 movie Hera Hilmar Robert Sheehan
"You cannot ignore the lessons of the past as if they were nothing." (Image Source)
One thing's for sure, "Mortal Engines" is quite the visual spectacle, and with a $100+ million price tag, it damn well better be. This dystopian steampunk adventure has a lot of imagination. The giant mobile cities look amazing and are strangely reminiscent of Japanese animated features like "Howl's Moving Castle." It's an interesting concept no matter how impractical it may be in reality. Like we said, it's best not to think about the story and its details too terribly much, because once you do, you start to see the improbability of it all and the inconsistencies found within this universe. The set design, costumes, and visual effects are all exceptional, though the character of Shrike (Stephen Lang) did give us some strong "Fant4stic" Doctor Doom vibes (which is never a good comparison). The story itself is a simple tale of revenge against a baddie who wants to rule the world, you know, the typical 'young adult' formula. In that quest for revenge, the heroes find a higher purpose. That being said, there are a lot of characters in this story, and most of them are not well developed, which means we don't get connected to them, their troubles, or their plight. Some characters are downright superfluous, and if it weren't for the one specific job they were supposed to do to give one nugget of crucial information to our heroes, they would be wholly unnecessary to the plot. Even when the characters are developed, as is the case with our two main leads Hester and Tom, there is a lack of emotional heft in the script, so even when they are in danger, we still don't care all that much. We found ourselves waiting for someone to die just so we could feel connected to them. Still, there are some amazing looking action sequences that are very entertaining, and there's quite a bit of mindless fun, even if key portions of the finale are directly lifted from "Star Wars."
Mortal Engines 2018 movie Jihae Kim
"All they care about is feeding the beast." (Image Source)
In the end, "Mortal Engines" falls short of being a memorable new fantasy adventure, but it isn't the total disaster we feared it might be. Still, we don't envision ourselves ever revisiting this one.

My Rating: 5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~6.4/10
RT Rating: ~34%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

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1 comment:

  1. I'd like to see them do a Film version of 'Cities' in Flight' by James Blish