Moving from a realm of past fantasies and into a dystopian post-apocalyptic future, Producer Peter Jackson emerges with a film for Steampunk fans everywhere.
Mortal Engines is a film adaptation of the award-winning book of the same name written by Phillip Reeves and published in 2001. The post-apocalyptic scene is set by a “60-minute War” which left the Earth in a state of geological and atmospheric instability. With natural resources dwindling, cities are mobilized and scour desolate lands engulfing smaller cities like prey.
London is the imperial force Predator city antagonist that is devouring everything in its path in hopes of its own sustained survival. At the forefront of London’s leadership is Thaddeus Valentine who is played by Hugo Weaving. He is a hero to his constituents, but a mortal enemy to the story’s main character Hester Shaw.
Hester Shaw is the strong female lead played by Hera Hilmar, she is a lone wolf with one mission, revenge. With the help of a London historian wrongfully exiled named Tom and played by Robert Sheehan, and an outlaw with a large bounty on her head named Jihae played by Anna Fang, Shaw hopes to take down Valentine and his oppressive tyranny to fulfill her vengeful desires.
Where the film captures its appeal is the incredible imagery of the steampunk, make-shift style that stands out brightly although engulfed in an equally impressive dark desolate setting. The mechanics of the massive moving cities do not at any point beg the question, “Would that even work?” The gadgets and wardrobes are also very detailed and functional, bringing a cohesive look to the whole production that keeps the audience in awe for the full length of the film.
So, it’s unfortunate that the story, albeit complete, lacked depth. The character development was poor, and the plot only seemed to scratch the surface of an elaborate world Jackson worked almost ten years to bring to life. It all just seemed hurried along for a two-hour experience, leaving you wanting more when the credits roll.