Engines splutter after big entrance
Starring: Hugo Weaving, Hera Hilmar, Robert Sheehan, Jihae, Ronan Raftery, Leila George. Great starter motor, but doesn’t fire on all cylinders HERE is a blockbuster production that certainly knows how to make an entrance, but seems unsure what to do once inside the room.
Mortal Engines would have just about every movie of 2018 well and truly beaten if first impressions were all that mattered.
An awesome opening establishes an apocalyptic future, where huge cities on wheels chase one another across devastated landscapes, engaging in a form of steampunk warfare.
But because it is lasting impressions that really matter for any movie, Mortal Engines gradually falls away very conspicuously in this department after an amazing first act.
The action centres on the mobilised metropolis of London, stronghold for an oppressive regime out to dominate and devour what is left of the planet.
It is the Traction Era, some time after the year 3100. A fateful conflict referred to in hushed tones as the Sixty Minute War ended mankind as we knew it.
The few survivors migrated to the massive mechanised cities that now roam Earth looking for precious resources. The most prized commodity is known as “Old-Tech” — ancient gadgets and gizmos from the world as it used to be. These gadgets will be familiar to audiences; they are the ones we use today.
The core narrative of Mortal Engines warms up when a mysterious young woman, Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar), clambers aboard London on a secret mission.
After moving to assassinate respected historian and as- piring fascist dictator Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo Weaving), Hester plants the seeds for a rebellion against those steering London down the wrong path.
Based on the first in a series of books by Philip Reeve, Mortal Engines is a blockbuster not short on big ideas, whether they be creative or allegorical They were obviously the hooks that drew filmmaker Peter Jackson (serving here as both producer and co-screenwriter) to the project.
However, Jackson and his regular collaborators from his famous Tolkien movies can’t quite keep Mortal Engines revving with excitement or wonder once the bland basics of its tale are bedded down.
GRAND ENTRANCE: Hugo Weaving as Thaddeus Valentine in Peter Jackson’s Mortal Engines.