Film Review: Mortal Engines

Christian Rivers’ Mortal Engines is very much a case of style over substance. Whilst the film offers spectacle, the poor writing scuppers enjoyment.

In a world where cities are roaming beasts which consume smaller towns, Hester is determined to get into London to fulfil a mission. Meanwhile, Londoner Tom inadvertently gets caught up in the melee…

Based on the novel by Philip Reeve, Mortal Engines is set in a dystopian world of cities on wheels. The premise of the film is enticing enough; a post-apocalyptic world where powerful cities absorb smaller ones. There is plenty of room for exploration here, with the imbalance of power between the urban and the rural. Furthermore, the prominence of London points to a colonial past. Yet these aspects are not inspected in any detail.

Where the film falls down is its script. Written by Peter Jackson (who also produces), Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens, Mortal Engines feels like it was made a decade or so ago. It falls into a trap that some big blockbusters of that period did; so much is put into the visuals that the story seems like an afterthought. Characters in Mortal Engines do not break out of their archetypes. The two leads are not developed in a sympathetic way; it is difficult to care about their outcomes. Other characters do not fare any better, with a dull antagonist, wafer-thin helpers, and a supporting character who disappears completely without explanation.

There is a sub plot in Mortal Engines that could have been completely omitted, as it adds nothing to the main narrative and characters. Elsewhere, a later twist is utterly predictable, and adds nothing to the stakes. Poor dialogue and lacklustre character development hinder performances from the cast. Visuals are where the film shines. Some dated steampunk inclinations aside, the world created by the film envelops viewers. Special effects are faultless.

There are some great looking action set pieces, but these are not enough to redeem the film. Mortal Engines is a high-concept premise that needed a decent script.

Previews: Mission: Impossible – Fallout Featurette, More!

Plenty in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the new Mission: Impossible – Fallout featurette, plus Mortal Engines, Mile 22, and more…

Mission: Impossible – Fallout Featurette

Here is the brand new Mission: Impossible – Fallout featurette. Producer and star Tom Cruise and director Christopher McQuarrie discuss the upcoming film, the sixth in the franchise. What is interesting about the series is that rather than starting off strong, and getting progressively weaker, the films have got better generally (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is a particular highlight). Mission: Impossible – Fallout will hit UK screens on 25th July 2018.

Mile 22 Trailer

Here is the latest trailer for Mile 22. The action thriller is about an American intelligence officer who must smuggle an informant out of the country. The film stars Mark Wahlberg, Ronda Rousey, John Malkovich, and Iko Uwais. Directed by Peter Berg, Mile 22 is coming soon to UK cinemas.

Black KkKlansman Poster

Above is the latest poster for Spike Lee’s Black KkKlansman. The film is based on the true story of first African-American detective on the Colorado Springs Police Department, who infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan. The film stars John David Washington and Adam Driver. Black KkKlansman is out at UK cinemas on 24th August 2018.

The House with a Clock in its Walls Trailer

The House with a Clock in its Walls is a new fantasy adventure from director Eli Roth. The film is about a young boy who goes to live with his mysterious uncle in a peculiar house. The film stars Jack Black and Cate Blanchett. The House with a Clock in its Walls will be released in cinemas on 21st September 2018.

Mortal Engines Featurette

Here is a new look at the upcoming Mortal Engines. The film is directed by Christian Rivers, and co-written and produced by Peter Jackson. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, the film is about giant cities that roam the Earth, enveloping smaller towns. Starring Hugo Weaving, Mortal Instruments will hit UK screens on 14th December 2018.