Mortal Engines is a strange beast and I can understand why it didn’t make a lot of money on its initial release however, I urge you to go in with an open mind as there are some striking visuals and plenty of action to be well worth your time.
Plot: Hundreds of years after civilization was destroyed by a cataclysmic event, a mysterious young woman, Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar), emerges as the only one who can stop London — now a giant, predator city on wheels — from devouring everything in its path. Feral, and fiercely driven by the memory of her mother, Hester joins forces with Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan), an outcast from London, along with Anna Fang (Jihae), a dangerous outlaw with a bounty on her head.
Review: I (like most of the general public) didn’t bother seeing Mortal Engines when it was in theatres as it really just looked a bit too silly for my tastes however, curiosity got the better of me and frankly I’ll watch anything with Hugo Weaving in it so I thought it was time to give it a watch. It must be so crushing to direct and put together a movie of this scale for it to fail at the box office and not even make its money back but I foresee Mortal Engines becoming a cult classic over the years.
It is indeed a bonkers concept and one of the strangest movies I’ve seen for quite some time and I can understand why it wasn’t a box office smash but I have to applaud something that is so startlingly different from anything else out there right now. The sheer imagination used is breathtaking and the steampunk visuals are for the most part quite stunning and you wonder how anyone could actually come up with such an idea. The whole concept of wheeled cities requires a large suspension of disbelief but once you get past that you can just enjoy getting swept up in this fantastical world end enjoy the ride. There is plenty of action and the finale is never short of spectacle so action fans will not be left disappointed.
Our two leads Hester and Tom are sympathetic but it’s Hester who is the real badass here with Tom coming off as a bit of a wet blanket; I could never take him seriously as he looked like a cross between Justin Trudeau and James Blunt. My favourite character though and also one of the most bizarre story aspects has to be the addition of Shrike (Stephen Lang) who is some kind of undead being with green glowing eyes who is hunting Hester for breaking a promise she made to him. He is quite a tragic character and all he really wants is company; I would watch a movie just about him as he was freakily fascinating when he is on screen.
Hugo Weaving is on villain duties and when he is playing bad he can be truly menacing; his character has the wonderful name of Thaddeus Valentine and he is quite the monster who will kill anyone who gets in his way. He is understated and never over the top which makes him a more effective antagonist.
At times the music score was a little intrusive and overly loud but it was certainly epic sounding with some choir and large orchestral cues during the big action scenes.
I found myself smiling at a lot of the dialogue which was written by Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens who all wrote Lord of the Rings and you can tell as there are some very familiar sounding lines so it feels like they couldn’t quite let go of Middle Earth.
It’s not without a sense of humour with a few sly digs at modern society; I loved the Minions joke especially…
Overall, Mortal Engines is worth watching at least once and although it won’t be to everyone’s tastes it’s worth giving it a chance just to see something truly unique; I wish I had watched it on a big screen as there are some spectacular visuals and some incredibly imaginative ideas.