Mortal Engines is a steam punk post-apocalyptic science fiction film set several hundred years in the future. It is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Philip Reeve.
In Mortal Engines, cities are powered by engines of great proportions and they prowl across the globe over dried sea bed to literally swallow other smaller cities to gain their resources.
Analogically speaking, it is like a vacuum cleaner sucking away the tiny dust mites sprawling across a floor.
The film begins with a bang as you get submerged by the grandeur of the production design and the special effects but, as the movie progresses, you soon realise that the back story literally drags down the tone and rhythm of the plot.
Produced and written by Peter Jackson of the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit trilogy fame, Mortal Engines misses out the chance to develop its character with history and emotions. In LOTR, Peter Jackson patiently built up the back story and the premise of the famed rings. Soon we started rooting for young Bilbo Baggins’ quest.
But in Mortal Engines, the plot begins with a shock and awe and there is very little left to imagine what actually happened to the characters or the world in general. Also, the lack of twists make the screenplay feeble.
Despite having a pockmarked plot line, Mortal Engines does have it moments. The director, Christian Rivers, grabs your eyeballs in a stellar starting sequence of the motorised London city hauling a tiny town with brilliantly shot visual effects.
The costumes and set design dazzle with vibrant colours, electronic scraps and the groan of engines. The final war scene near the famed Shield Wall of Batmunkh Gompa vaguely reminds us of Minas Tirith from LOTR while the sequence where the lead hero chases down the lead female character under the massive belly of mechanised city of London leaves you in awe.
Hera Hilmar as the lead star shines with her performance as Hester Shaw while Hugo Weaving as Thaddeus Valentine is at his usual best. Newbie star, Leila George as Katherine Valentine, gives a commendable performance and so does Robert Sheehan as Tom Natsworthy.
Mortal Engines offers non-stop, extravagant supply of special effects but the thin script leaves the narrative style cluttered and ineffective.