Tag Archives: Hugo Weaving

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.


Oranges and Sunshine

In the 1980s, British social worker Margaret Humphreys uncovered a secret. Her government had sent hundreds of children to Australia. Supposedly orphaned, these kids were sent to be adopted by Australian parents, though some wound up in orphanages instead. Turns out, the kids weren’t necessarily orphans. If their parents turned up to reclaim them, they were told their kids had already been adopted. In fact they’d vanished into a child migration scheme that was kept quiet for decades. Humphreys set out to reunite these displaced children,  scattered across Australia over decades, with parents who might still be living in Britain. Neither country wanted to take any responsibility, of course.

Margaret Humphreys is a real woman who took this on herself because she saw the MV5BNTk2MzYyMDA2M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTAxMjg0NA@@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,740_AL_injustice, and people’s pain, and she decided to do something about it. She was threatened and abused because she was exposing some very dirty secrets covered up by some very powerful people. The only help she ever got was from the adoptees themselves, all of them different shades of broken, harbouring the wounded children within. The real Margaret was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 1993, and Commander of the British Empire in 2011 for her work, but as this film can attest, life was not made easy for her.

I believe that we can’t start healing from a trauma until the truth of the injury is admitted. This story was quite shameful on Australian and Britain, but they’re not the only ones with blemishes. Here in Canada we have our own sorrow. We call it the 60s scoop though it’s much broader than that. It refers to the over-eager removal of Aboriginal children from their homes. In some cases removal may have been appropriate, but others not, and in any case, the children weren’t just taken from their parents, but from the culture. They were raised off-reserve, losing their language and their identity, breaking social and familial bonds. Although not deported, these kids also lost more than just their parents.

In Oranges and Sunshine, Emily Watson plays Margaret Humphreys, and she does the formidable woman justice. Watson always does, doesn’t she? Hugo Weaving plays Jack, the adoptee through whom we experience the grief and loss of the process. Seeing it from both their perspectives keeps the film balanced; this is not merely an interesting case, but a personal and painful journey that doesn’t guarantee a happy ending for everyone. It’s not a flashy movie. It’s mostly fact-based. But it is sincere and at times quite powerful.

Science Fiction (No Space, No Aliens)


You’ll have to bear with me. I’ve been back from California for less than 12 hours and I’m  alittle jet lagged. Nothing like meeting a gropey Doc Brown from Back to the Future at Universal Studios two days ago to get me thinking of my favourite science fiction movies though.

Blade Runner

Blade Runner (1982)– Director Ridley Scott makes my list two weeks in a row. Blade Runner never seems to get old though and, more than Alien or Thelma and Louise, I would say this is his best work. The best sci-fi mixes genres and this noirish detective movie take on artificial intelligence still feels unique even when viewed over thirty years later.

The Matrix

The Matrix (1999)– Speaking of mixing genres, the Wachowskis throw all their favourite things- comic books, Eastern philosophy, kung fu movies, Western religion, and John Woo movies- into their story of A.I.’s enslavery of the human race. There are at least a dozen iconic images in this movie and seeing it for the first time was one of my all-time favourite movie theater experiences.

eternal sunshine

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)– For those of us who like a little romantic comedy with our science fiction, Charlie Kaufman dreamt up his most beautiful story yet about Joel (Jim Carrey) taking advantage of a new technology to erase all memories of Clementine (Kate Winslet). It’s mostly a heartbreakingly funny exploration of how memory works and how our painful memories make us who we are but, of course, the movie also centers around a technology that hasn’t been invented yet and ponders the consequences of said technology so I am submitting what I often refer to as my favourite movie of all time as a science fiction pick.