Mortal Engines: A Review

Mortal Engines
Mortal Engines
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Even though the Hobbit movies may not have done as well as we would have liked, the name of its director Peter Jackson still has a good enough ring to make you at least a little bit curious about whatever he gets into. Whoever films Lord of the Rings once does not have to worry about maintaining his good name and fame for the rest of his career. However, the deadly machines did not offer much else, and Jackson himself and the story of a world where cities move on giant belts and eat each other is probably not enough for the audience. Mortal Engines is already more or less expected to be a commercial flop and I was quite sad because the trailers didn’t look bad at all. I don’t regret it now. This movie deserves it.

Mortal Engines: PHOTO GALLERY

I really don’t understand how it is possible that such a bad thing came out of it. Sure, Christian Rivers is making his feature debut and so far he’s mostly done stunts and won an Oscar for the ones in King Kong, but otherwise there were a lot of smart people hanging around Lethal Machine who should know how not to screw up a big movie, but it still happened, even if it took a while , before this ugly truth comes out. The first fifteen minutes look pretty good on the screen. The tours around the giant London, which is driven through the arid countryside, are breathtaking on the big screen. Tricksters went wild on the detailed moving city, and when we get the chance to admire how English houses grow on the roofs of glass tower blocks and typical London landmarks hang on the sides, while the whole thing moves forward, huffing and puffing, it really doesn’t look bad. Unfortunately, this soon becomes apparent and the space is instead given to the story, characters and world. And this is where the film takes a nasty hit.

The moving cities, on which most of the money fell from the hundred million budget, are fine, unfortunately the desperately boring story of Hester Shaw, who wants to murder one of the most powerful Londoners and instead gets involved in a war for the fate of the whole world, gets more space. Well, it’s exactly as banal, ordinary and sloppy as you might imagine. In addition, Hester is not a very interesting character and she is not played by a very interesting actress, so in that sense it is boring. And actually further too. It wouldn’t matter so much that the creators bet on a classic adventure template, but it needs to be revived with something, and that doesn’t work here. And straight away on two fronts.

On the one hand, the creators stick to the most classic clichés. The development of the heroes, their relationships and their path to the goal takes place exactly as you would expect and as you have probably seen hundreds of times. Although this could be survivable. The bigger problem is that Mortal Kombat is based on a book, which has (I assume) a lot of plot twists, supporting characters, and secondary motifs and story lines. This usually has to be cut into the film a bit to make it work. However, Rivers and Jackson are fighting everything here at any cost, and the result is that most of the story simply does not work. We don’t get a chance to get to know the secondary characters at all, and their existence in the story is almost not important at all. They are just here because they were probably in the book, they will do what they have to do and nothing more. And it doesn’t just apply to this “bush”, but also to obviously important characters, which should affect the main characters and their fate. For example, the whole story line with the robot and Hester’s past will not only make you laugh out loud, but you will probably also say to yourself “what the hell was that supposed to be?” At the same time, it is clear that it was supposed to be something important. But it is not, because there was no time, space or ideas to develop it in any interesting way. It just makes noise. Like pretty much everything in Mortal Engines.

The closer we get to the end, the more evident it becomes that Rivers doesn’t master the director’s craft. He is still quite good at fancy tours of cities and working with tricks, but unfortunately he simply does not understand the characters, dialogues or plot, and in the more intimate scenes it all looks like a very cheap series. And as for the action scenes, let’s just say it pulls off what one automatically expects from the genre and budget, but nothing more. As a result, in the end I didn’t care at all how it all turned out, because it was clear that this film cannot surprise, because its creator does not have what it takes to come up with something really attractive, new or at least above average in terms of craftsmanship. And he wasn’t surprised either.

Play the trailer Mortal Engines isn’t exactly a mess, but it’s a movie where it’s hard to find anything that’s actually good, interesting, or worth seeing. Fans of science fiction and fantasy will get from Jackson and Rivers the classic spectacular average, on which the money is quite visible, but unfortunately nothing else. I can think of about ten other similar films out of the blue, which manage to distinguish themselves from the others or at least attract attention in some way, so the question arises, why watch this one in particular. Apart from the big cities, there really isn’t anything worth paying attention to. Just an average and sloppy story filmed by a director who I hope won’t be back behind the camera, because the storytelling profession is obviously beyond his strength.

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