When cities come to life

A technical movie marvel that falls a little short in the performances.

Peter Jackson is back after another stint in Middle-Earth, to bring us a tale set well into the future where most cities are now mobile, out of necessity after a quantum bomb ripped the earth’s crust apart. Tom is a historian in London, and meets the mysterious Hester Shaw after his town devours the one she is taking refuge in for resources. The two uncover a dangerous conspiracy and must do what they can to stop it.

mortal chick

The first thing you will notice when watching this movie is just how beautiful it is. The detail in the mobile cities is great, observing them traversing the land is wonderful and once you’re amongst the buildings and people, the steampunk/Art Deco style is an absolute delight. It brings back memories of the Bioshock games, for those who have played them. The technical creatives, Weta Digital and the art department have created a marvellous world and I found myself incredibly intrigued by it. Sadly, more so then the actual progression of the plot.

City chase

‘Peter Jackson’s Mortal Engines’ is how this movie is being marketed. His name is all over it. And fair enough this was originally the movie series he was gearing up to direct when Guillermo del Toro pulled out of the Hobbit and Jackson had to fill his shoes. After a gruelling filming process, he found he was way too exhausted to take up the directing chair again for Mortal Engines, and instead passed along the baton to long time filmmaker chum Christian Rivers. So this really isn’t a Peter Jackson movie, and it shows.

Where Peter Jackson is great for giving us those little character moments that really suck us into the story, Christian Rivers is not as gifted. I can tell there is a good story underneath all this (I’m actually interested in reading the book to really uncover it), but the performances given here show us surface level characters at best. Which I think comes down to an inexperienced Director and actors that I’m not aware of. Besides Hugo Weaving (who is great, as always), there is a lack of star power. Not so much in name actors, but these performers have very little presence on screen.

mortal hugo

Saying all this, there was enough here to keep me interested. I want to know more about this universe, I’ll be lining up to see the sequel. The concept alone is worth the watch. Unfortunately this is a case where the technical filmmakers have out shone the creatives, and that should never happen. If we don’t care that much about the characters, it’s hard to care at all.

3 out of 5 – Good Watch

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