Mortal Engines

I can see how this might be a pretty cool idea on paper, and might have succeeded as a novel, or better yet, a graphic novel (in fact it’s a whole series). But as a movie, it’s really just a bloat of CGI and very little narrative. In the years beyond civilizations collapse (presumably), London is now a predatory city on wheels. So, you know, a very large monster truck of a city that…eats other hapless cities? The why and when and who and how are all vitally important but completely neglected. We’re simply thrown into a story already in progress with all the juicy details left out. Even Michael Bay devotes a full 30 seconds of exposition about where the Transformers come from and why they care so much about dumb little Earthlings. This movie just drops you into the middle of a battle scene expecting you to care but not really caring itself whether or not you do.

Film Title: Mortal EnginesHester Shaw (Hera Hilmar) is a young woman with a scar and a secret. When her little city is devoured and destroyed by London, you might think she’d be crushed herself -emotionally if not physically. The rest of her citizens become refugees on London, but it turns out London was Hester’s destination all along, and she’s come to strike down its primary architect and greatest celebrity, Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo Weaving). We don’t know why Hester is so dead set against the celebrated Valentine, but her cause is joined by nerdy Tom (Robert Sheehan) and a dangerous outlaw named Anna Fang (Jihae).

Mortal Engines is crowded with visuals but devotes no time to character or theme. It’s so busy setting itself up for future sequels it forgets to be good right now. The actors aren’t bad but they’re main preoccupation is jumping over steampunk set pieces, with little else to work with.

Mortal Engines wants to be, and could have been, like Mad Max meets Snowpiercer, except those movies are good and this one is just 129 minutes that would have been better spent feeding quarters into a broken vending machine.

 

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16 thoughts on “Mortal Engines

  1. mywifeisablackbelt

    I saw a trailer for this a while back on tv and well… just from that I concluded that there is no way there could be any good answer for why and how that scenario could possibly happen. So definitely nothing I’m going to watch…

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  2. tubularsock

    “. . . better spent feeding quarters into a broken vending machine.”

    Well said Jay and right on the money, sort of speak.

    These CGI dominant films are one step under a video game and to call them a movie is a push except as a set up for a franchise of crap.

    Besides, London is too sissy to be a Truck! It is like acting like Paris is macho! Maybe Chicago would have a go at it.

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  3. The Inner Circle

    This looked DOA at the first preview,this should have been set on a much,much larger planet…it would have made more sense. But when it hits the 1.50 mark at my video store,I’ll check it out….

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  4. Widdershins

    Liked the books … saw the first trailer and thought a dubious ‘maybe, … saw the second trailer and thought, ‘where’s the nearest broken vending machine?’ 🙂

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  5. Brittani

    I was curious about this so I read all the wikipedia entries for the entire series and I’m not sure if this ever had a chance to succeed. I do want to watch it eventually but it’s not something I’d actively seek out, especially if you say they spent no time on the characters.

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  6. selizabryangmailcom

    It tried. But the idea was too big for a movie. Just didn’t work. Implausible and impossible are understatements.

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  7. Liz A.

    I saw the trailer a couple times, and I was like “meh”. I couldn’t figure out the whys of it. If it already had a following, this would all make sense. But it doesn’t. And I don’t see it getting one.

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  8. walterrhein

    Wasn’t great, but it had some good moments and I liked the steampunk feel to it. Could have done without the star wars conclusion, and Hugo Weaving takes 3 minutes to say a 30 second phrase, but I’m glad I watched it.

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  9. mydangblog

    I heard that it was really short on plot explication–I’d want to see it for the visuals, but at least I know what I’m getting into. I actually didn’t like Snowpiercer that much–I keep wanting to rewatch it to see if I like it better the second time, but I keep falling asleep during everything these days!

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  10. Jason

    The movie definitely had some good world-building ideas and design work, but the actually story was pretty flat and derivate. Did not care about any of the movie’s characters. Plus, the film’s ending was totally blah.

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