<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>


Directed by Christian Rivers. Starring Hugo Weaving, Hera Hilmar, Robert Sheehan, Jihae, Ronan Raftery, Leila George, Patrick Malahide, Stephen Lang, Colin Salmon

Running time: 2 hours 8 minutes


While the trailer looked interesting, the overly clunky and lengthy Mortal Engines is a film that strives for greatness only to achieve mediocrity.

In the future, considering the way the world is going, all cities are wiped out only to be reborn as urban mobile monster trucks that must escape ‘ingestion’ by larger city-class behemoths intent on capturing them and making them their slaves. All tech here is ‘old tech’, cobbled together from junkyards and bits of the past. London, the mega-city on tracks, has glass structures interwoven with landmarks like the Tower of London and St. Paul’s Cathedral. This city is lead by a Mayor (Patrick Malahide) and its chief engineer and saviour, Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo Weaving), who you know is the bad guy.


Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar) is one of London’s conquests as she is scooped up with her little town into the belly of the beast. But she’s been waiting for this, since she must take revenge upon Thaddeus for the death of her mother Pandora (Leila George). Very soon, Londoner and Museum employee Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan) form an alliance when she fails to kill her target – a bit surprising since she’s had so much time to prepare and still manages to stab him in the side of his stomach rather than his heart.

What follows is a story that meanders just like the rolling towns that are depicted with grandeur but which failed to elicit any awe in my ‘seen-it-all’ mind. There are rebels and monsters, human auctions and flying boats, an re-animated human-android that has feelings for Hester but wants to kill her – very little backstory provided for this, but still the only story line that has some interest value. The rest is formula stuff, with Thaddeus out to destroy a sanctuary behind a wall and the rebels, Hester and Tom trying to stop him.


Robert Sheehan looks sort of like a simple version of Canadian PM Justin Trudeau and manages to be charismatic enough considering Hera Hilmar is a bit bland and uninspiring. Hugo Weaving’s voice and demeanour are spot-on big-bad-villain. The rest of the cast don’t have much to do apart from Jihae who plays rebel leader Anna Fang and manages to upstage Hera in every scene with her badass lines and moves.

Peter Jackson may have written this and tried to imbue in it the fantasy and fantastic spirit of the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings films, but humanity and emotion get lost in the glut of CGI that tries to overwhelm you. Also, the cast isn’t really that great or well known enough to bring people in, which I find curious on the part of the filmmakers. Perhaps they spent all the money on elaborate sets and special effects. Mortal Engines is protracted, clumsy, unoriginal, shambolic and uninspiring.


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