Adapted from a novel by Philipe Reeve of the same name, Mortal Engines takes hundreds of years since the collapse of civilization. Humans live in “steampunk” cities that can move like giant vehicles. In a world where sophisticated technology is a scarce item, the lord of the city of London, Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo Weaving), plans to utilize the technology of the past he found for his personal purposes. Our protagonist, Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar) and Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheenan) in collaboration with rebel Anna Fang (Jihae) are trying to thwart the Valentine’s plan which could destroy human civilization for the second time. Top Movie Site
Promoted by selling the name Peter Jackson, the Oscar-winning director this time sat in the chair of the producer and writer along with the writers of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, namely Philipa Boyens and Fran Walsh. Meanwhile, the director of the film Mortal Engines is Christian Rivers, a storyboard artist who also worked with Peter Jackson in the LOTR and King Kong trilogy.
Directed by a storyboard artist, Mortal Engines from the very beginning has spoiled the eyes with an extraordinarily magnificent visual of a very interesting steampunk world. It’s great to not watch this “scene” on the biggest screen.
The film opens with exciting scenes when the city of London as a city of predators chasing smaller cities in search of fuel and human resources. This scene is reminiscent of Mad Max: Fury Road, which even the drum beat on his scoring also sounds like George Miller’s scoring. Mortal Engines also follows the current film trend, which is full of cool female characters and casts from various races. It is undeniable that these female characters steal the show because they are shown as strong women. Especially Anna Fang (Jihae) who looks really cool like an anime character or a video game. Best Movie
The Mortal Engines film set in the post apocalyptic era raised the theme of the adverse effects of misuse of technology by stupid humans. It’s like criticizing us humans who live in the present. Sophisticated technology does not guarantee the intelligence of its users.
As a result of the misuse of technology, human civilization was destroyed and returned to the point where humans are very dependent on machines, without electronic devices. Smartphones are artifacts and Minion sculptures are masterpieces of fine art.
The film Mortal Engines also illustrates that humans who have never learned from history are the main villains of world civilization. When Thaddeus Valentine should be aware of the dangers of ancient technology that he discovered, he still wants to use it for selfish purposes.
Besides containing the issue of misuse of technology, the film Mortal Engines also contains the issue of colonialism by Europeans, especially the British who colonized for natural and human resources. The city of London which is very powerful as a city predator hunts down cities like a small country to drain its resources.
Uniquely this colonialism was shown as an arbitrary but relatively not so cruel act. When London ate the small towns, many of its inhabitants were happy because they could live under London’s more advanced rule for a brighter future.
Then, when all the resources have been dredged, the eyes of the people of London will turn to areas where the population lives peacefully like in Utopia, namely Shan Gao. Having abundant resources and protected walls like China, Shan Gao is like representing Asia in this film.
With satisfying visuals, world building, costumes, and acting as well as interesting issues, Mortal Engines films have great potential for success like the films of Peter Jackson. But unfortunately, none of that was able to cover up the weaknesses of this Christian Rivers film.
Mortal Engines failed to explore the characters to make the premise that is quite simple feels boring. Cheesy and mediocre backstory presentations fail to reinforce and explain the motives of some important characters that make them easily forgotten. One of them (not a spoiler) was felt when Shrike, who was like a Terminator, appeared. His motivation that fails to be explained properly makes this potential character end up confusing. This film seems overwhelmed to translate all the pages of the novel by Philip Reeve into a two-hour film. Movie Review
The film is also made worse by scenes that have a market-oriented dialogue at crucial moments. While the scene should function to create emotional and epic moments, this mediocre dialogue and scene actually fails to climax. This weakness makes the movie Mortal Engines not so memorable and leaves mixed feelings. On the one hand we are amazed and curious about the visuals and the world building. On the other hand, the main character who lacks imprint fails to be an attraction if later the sequel is made (considering the film is adapted from a novel trilogy).