SUB-PRIME ‘STAR WARS’ STORY

Daily Star Sunday - - RESULT! -

AS is cus­tom­ary when re­view­ing teen sci-fi, I’ll start by list­ing some older and bet­ter movies…

Here Star Wars meets Mad Max, flirts with The Ma­trix and has a fling with The Ter­mi­na­tor.

While that sounds great on pa­per it makes for a sur­pris­ingly dull night out.

The set­ting is a postapoc­a­lyp­tic Lon­don which, in the first in­stal­ment of Philip Reeve’s four-novel se­ries, has be­come the Death Star on wheels.

It’s 1,000 years af­ter an event called The Sixty Sec­ond War and the city is pur­su­ing a small Ger­man town around a blasted land­scape.

Af­ter an eye-pop­ping chase that brings to mind Mad Max: Fury Road, Lon­don – now mounted on gi­ant tank treads – cap­tures the min­ing town in a mesh of har­poons, opens its gi­ant maw and swal­lows it.

Sadly this isn’t just a thrilling open­ing, it’s also the film’s best scene. The mo­torised cities in this Peter Jack­son-pro­duced sci-fi look im­pres­sive but the char­ac­ters are run­ning on fumes. At first a young mu­seum cu­ra­tor Tom Natswor­thy (Robert Shee­han, in­set) seems the like­li­est hero.

His work col­lect­ing arte­facts from the “Screen Age” gets the cu­rios­ity of Thad­deus Valen­tine (Hugo Weav­ing) the de facto ruler of Lon­don who has a cu­ri­ous in­ter­est in 21st cen­tury weapons. Early on, the men find them­selves in the bow­els of the city as a masked girl called Hester Shaw (Hera Hil­mar) tries to stab Valen­tine. Tom in­ter­venes and chases the would-be as­sas­sin to the city’s refuse chute. Be­fore she tum­bles over the edge she tells him Valen­tine mur­dered her mother.

Tom, who has a tal­ent for do­ing pre­cisely the wrong thing at the worst time, re­ports this to the clearly evil Valen­tine while he is stand­ing next to a gi­ant hole. Af­ter this, things all go a bit Star Wars. Tom and Hester pick them­selves up, be­gin an un­con­vinc­ing ro­mance and team up with rebels who want to stop Valen­tine build­ing a su­per­weapon with a glar­ing de­sign flaw. Their leader is a hot-shot avi­a­tor and Han Solo stand-in called Anna Fang (Ji­hae) who is dressed as at least three dif­fer­ent Ma­trix char­ac­ters. She doesn’t say much but those “Mor­pheus” glasses work beau­ti­fully with her “Neo” leather coat. We also get a fun but point­less sub­plot in­volv­ing Hester’s un­dead robo step­dad Shrike (Stephen Lang) – a zom­bie Ter­mi­na­tor with parental aban­don­ment is­sues. Other char­ac­ters drift about. In the open­ing act, Valen­tine’s daugh­ter Kather­ine (Leila Ge­orge) and a cleaner with the great name of Be­vis Pod (Ro­nan Raftery) seem to have a big role to play. But the film for­gets all about them in a me­an­der­ing mid­dle stretch. By the fi­nal bat­tle it’s hard to re­mem­ber who ev­ery­one is...and al­most im­pos­si­ble to care.

■ COVER-UP: Hera Hil­mar as Hester. Above, Hugo Weav­ing

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