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.

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