Some scars never heal
Director: Christian Rivers
Starring: Hera Hilmar, Robert Sheehan, Hugo Weaving, Jihae
Release Date: December 8th 2018
The great predator city of London has crossed into what remains of mainland Europe in search of other settlements to consume and remnants of “old tech”. Onboard Hester (Hilmar) and Tom (Sheehan) must put aside their differences to prevent Deputy Lord Mayor Thaddeus (Weaving) from using his superweapon to destroy the only wall protecting the Shan Guo, the last of non-mobile settlements.
I’ve seen many book adaptations suffer from the same issue when being turned into a movie, namely ending up with an overly complicated plot caused by the makers trying to fit as much into the film as possible, Mortal Engines which is adapted from Philip Reeve’s novel series of the same name is definitely no different
If you think that plot sounds complicated, that’s because it is and I’ve missed out multiple subplots that spring up throughout the film, some of which are cleared up by the end and some of which were clearly to be explored in sequels and that in part is one of the issues that dogged the film and might help to explain its poor theatrical run/critical response.
The film, however, does have its strong points, with the visuals, especially of the moving city of London and the airships a particular delight, Hugo Weaving puts in an enjoyable performance as the slightly over the top evil Thaddeus Valentine and it’s clear to see that he enjoyed himself in the role as the main antagonists, not only this but both Robert Sheehan and Hera Hilmar were likeable as the protagonists and you did route for them even when the film got bogged down in one of the many subplots.
Another of the bright spots of the film comes from Jihae’s portrayal of resistance fighter Anna Fang, managing to steal every scene that she appears in and I wouldn’t of minded if they had dedicated more screen time to her motivations and backstory, sadly instead we get treated to Valentine’s daughter and one of Tom’s friends’ adventures onboard London, which doesn’t really add a lot to the plot and you wouldn’t have missed much if either or both weren’t included in the movie.
It’s actually a shame that the film fell into the trap so many have done before because the world that Reeves created in his book series is an exciting one and I would have liked to see where they went next with it, sadly it doesn’t look as though we will be getting any sequels but there might be hope of a re-adaptation TV series in the works, so we shall see.
Overall, Mortal Engines is a visually stunning and well-acted film, but the amount of plots and subplots the makers tried to squeeze in has resulted in it being way too needlessly complicated for you to switch off and enjoy.