Movie Review – Mortal Engines

Late to the party as usual, finally caught Mortal Engines yesterday. I was not disappointed. Well, I was, but more on that later.

Be warned, there be spoilers ahead.

Peter Jackson has a track record of making the same visual constructions I have. That is to say, the look of something as brought to the big screen by him is just how I imagined it should look. I remember clearly the first time I saw the Ents in the trailer for The Two Towers. “Oh yeah,” thought I as the trailer started. “All very well and good but no-one has done an Ent properly yet.” And then there they were. Large as life and just as I had imagined they would be. Perfect. Jaw -> floor.

And that’s just how it was with London in the trailer for Mortal Engines. And it’s repeated time and again throughout the movie – Airhaven? Spot on. The Wall? Wow. Medusa? Oh, yeah! The cities, villages, the guilds of London, the policemen! The Lord Mayor! All just as if they’d stepped out of the book via my imagination.

But – and this is something I’d not fully appreciated from reading the book – a lot of it is just there to be a backdrop for destruction. In a way, Mortal Engines follows a very similar pattern to The Force Awakens – our heroes arrive at a location, shortly followed by the villains of the piece, and it gets destroyed. Sometimes the villains arrive at a location all by themselves and proceed to destroy it. And it all happens so quickly! Okay so it’s been a while since I read the books, but I’m sure it didn’t clip along at such a fast pace! And I’m sure London wasn’t finished off with such an assault-on-the-Death-Star attack.

The biggest problem for me, though, was Hugo Weaving. Our Mr Valentine, saviour of London and all round good guy. Ish. And Shrike, but I can understand why they did Shrike the way they did. Made him a very grey character, not black/white bad/good. Valentine, though, was more of a pantomime villain than King Phillip of Spain (of Spain) in Bill. Mr Weaving seems to be going through the motions, putting as little effort as possible in to the part. Not sure why, maybe his paycheck from DisMarvelney is grand enough he doesn’t have to bother. To my mind, he displayed a greater depth of emotion and acting calibre as Agent Smith in the first Matrix movie.

I’d give this a solid 7/10, could do better. My eldest son hated the design of the Jenny Hanniver airship but we all want the next book to be filmed. And the next… And the next… Oh, to see Anchorage! Brighton! Stalker Fang…

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