In a post-apocalyptic world where there’s a conflict between mobilised cities and static settlements, a girl named Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar) attempts to murder London historian and statesman Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo Weaving) only to be obstructed by another fellow, a much younger historian Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan) leaving Valentine only fairly injured. Tom chases her throughout London but she manages to escape but not before telling him as to why she attacked Valentine, who upon learning about the same pushes Tom out of the city.
Why did Hester attack Valentine? Why did Valentine push Tom? What will both Tom and Hester do now?
Positive Points: –
- With all those well-placed colours and well-executed CGI, Mortal Engines is probably one the most visually astounding piece of work of this entire decade.
- The committed performances of Hilmar, Sheehan and Weaving.
Negative Points: –
- Beneath its grandiloquence Mortal Engines is largely void, something that gets over its initially engrossing premise.
- Lack of proper character interactions, dialogues and even development.
- The basic storyline of the film had a lot to tell but nothing comes out in a matter of 128 minutes. The film could have been much better if it were lengthened in order to present all its details effectively onto the screen, or even better if it were a miniseries instead of a feature film.
The General Aspects: –
Director Christian River’s debut feature is powered by terrific cinematography and a resplendent portrayal of an interesting dystopian scenario as it begins with an excellent chase sequence as a much larger and powerful ‘mobile London’ pursues a smaller city on what the film calls The Great Hunting Ground. The visual grandeur and thrill of its very opening promise a much more glorious cinematic experience to the viewer but this induced excitement soon begins to wither away as the story unfolds. In its heart, Mortal Engines has a very rich story with many interesting elements which if subsumed consummately could have produced magnificent results. River’s efforts to make the film visually pleasing can be commended but the same cannot be said about how he handles the film’s narrative and characters. The movie has a lot of plot-points which have been stuffed into a stipulated time frame of 128 minutes leaving little or no space for either the story to develop or its characters to flesh out. There are too many characters who are supposed to be important but hardly anyone gets nurtured into maturity. Another problem with Mortal Engines is its lack of novelty. It surely has some unique ideations but in terms of execution, it seems to have copied various themes from similar dystopian flicks only with much more underwhelming results. Disappointment is the only thing which one carries from the film notwithstanding its brilliant visual execution.
Hera Hilmar and Robert Sheehan get the maximum screentime and they make the most of it. Hilmar is great in both her emotional and tough outlooks and is probably the only person who gets a character with proper variations and development. Sheehan isn’t as lucky as her but he does manage to impress with his effortless rendition of Tom. Hugo Weaving is good not because Valentine is a great villain but because he’s a good actor and hence he managed to make the most out of a jerry-built character. Jihae is badass, Stephen Lang has an interesting cameo and Leila George also has a brief lukewarm appearance in the film.
Final Verdict: –
Mortal Engines is the kind of a ride where you have enough fuel to run the vehicle but not a powerful engine to use the same efficiently. It’s visual effects definitely have a terrific appeal but that’s all that keeps it up. It’s an example of extremely poor storytelling which not only underwhelms a promising plot but also wastes the efforts put up by a talented cast and an equally (or even more) adept technical team.