Mortal Engines mostly relies on special effects, and two supporting actors, to compensate for nearly every other thing the film offers.

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Mortal Engines mostly relies on special effects, and two supporting actors, to compensate for nearly every other thing the film offers.


Director(s) Christian Rivers
Written By Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson
Date Released 12/13/2018
Genre(s) Action, Adventure, Sci-fi
Good If You Like Movies Which Primarily Focus On Special Effects

Stories About Imperialism

The Most Interesting Characters Playing Minor Roles

Noted Cast
Hester Hera Hilmar
Tom Robert Sheehan
Thaddeus Hugo Weaving
Anna Jihae
Shrike Stephen Lang

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Mortal Engines‘ Plot

Hester has spent at least 15 years planning her revenge on Thaddeus Valentine. The man who killed her mother for power, and left her to die out in the wilderness. But, thanks to a soldier named Shrike – she lived. However, just before she was close enough to get her revenge a historian named Tom ruins her chance. Yet, it is also thanks to Tom that, after many events and near-death experiences, Hester is able to do far more than simply get revenge, but protect the eastern world from western imperialism.


The Social Commentary

Thaddeus (Hugo Weaving) commanding London.
Thaddeus (Hugo Weaving)

I find it hilarious, even though it isn’t funny, pretty much this movie is about western imperialism. Cities like London swallowing up small mobile towns and then having them work terrible jobs, with little to no social mobility, for low pay. All the while, the upper crust justify the conquering for it gives the middle and upper class more splendor.

But, then you got to add in that London, the heart of England, is trying to conquer the east, aka Asian people. Though not a big history buff, it isn’t lost on me that this is a showing of history repeating itself and some white man wanting to conquer the easting world. Especially with racist terminology being used to justify it and the populace being gung-ho about it. Even treating it as a spectator’s sport as the final moments of the movie play out and they know tens, hundreds, maybe even thousands are dying.

It Has The Occasional Emotional Moment

For the most part, Mortal Enginesir?source=bk&t=amaall0c 20&bm id=default&l=ktl&linkId=11a087d2a137e28e14cb0f2ea3beab5a& cb=1544804632038 relies on special effects to keep you engages more than character interaction. However, even though it feels a bit rushed, it is hard to not get a bit emotional when it comes to Shrike’s storyline. Also, thanks to the charisma of Jihae, her character too brings this oomph that is largely missing from most of the film. Making any sign of trouble, or death, for those two when you’re less about watching these giant cities and towns move and actually take note of the weakly beating heart the film has.


It Doesn’t Push You To Want Sequels

Hester and Tom are not the kind of characters you want to see over and over. While Robert Sheehan will always have a place in my heart when he gets a bit manic and reminds us of his time playing Nathan Young in Misfitsir?source=bk&t=amaall0c 20&bm id=default&l=ktl&linkId=4666c0faa299a556cb12e57d8b0d12ae& cb=1544804618063, when he isn’t that energized, he lacks oomph. It’s almost like Will Smith in After/ Earthir?source=bk&t=amaall0c 20&bm id=default&l=ktl&linkId=7a3d572afbd01d1b82d56cbd2258fe0f& cb=1544804602384. While you recognize that energy you fell in love with, it feels so muted that you can’t connect as you usually would.

Then with Hilmar? Don’t get me wrong, she seems like a nice actor, she plays off Jihae and Stephen Lang, as Shrike, well, but there is something about her that seems like she was made a lead too early. Granted, maybe it is just this role and the writing that is the issue, more than her, but the way she performs in Mortal Engines would lead you to believe this is a direct to VoD movie and not a $100+ million blockbuster. As if this movie is just about her gaining experience rather than showing the culmination of the experience she has been gaining since 1995.

Overall: Mixed (Divisive) | Buy Tickets on Fandango

Hester (Hera Hilmar) telling her story to Tom.
Hester (Hera Hilmar)

Unfortunately, Mortal Engines is the kind of film which rests a bit too much on its effects and thus leaves developing interesting characters as secondary. For while we do have a handful of shining moments from Anna Fang and Shrike, they are but a small part of this 2-hour behemoth. Hence the mixed label. For whether it is the time length, leads with the personality of bit-part characters, or a Star Wars like ending which felt anti-climactic, Mortal Engines feels like a huge disappointment

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