REVIEW: Mortal Engines (2018)

Directed by: Christian Rivers
Starring: Hera Hilmar, Robert Sheehan, Hugo Weaving, Jihae

Written by Elena Morgan

Based on the book by Philip Reeve, Mortal Engines is set in a post-apocalyptic future where in order to survive, whole towns and cities are on wheels, roaming the Earth looking for fuel. Smaller towns are on the constant lookout for predator cities, London being the biggest and deadliest of them all. If a town gets caught, the predator city ingests it and strips it for parts.

What you need from a whole new fantasy film, especially one where not everyone will have read the source material, is to be instantly immersed into this world – Mortal Engines succeeds in this. Opening with a thrilling chase as London pursues and eventually captures a small town, you’re seamlessly introduced to its world, how these towns work, and how its people live. Unbeknownst to London’s hero Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo Weaving), on their newly acquired fuel source is Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar) a young woman who is hell-bent on revenge for her mother’s murder. After Hester’s attempt to kill Valentine fails, she, along with historian Tom (Robert Sheehan) who had naively tried to help Valentine, are flung from the city and are forced to fend for themselves.

While there are big fights, explosions, and aerial spectacles, it’s Hester and Tom slowly learning to trust and care for one another that’s at the heart of this film. Sheehan’s natural charisma shines through, and his chemistry with Hilmar makes Tom and Hester’s relationship surprisingly sweet. They’re like an odd couple, Tom is friendly and enthused about ancient technology, while Hester is wary and untrusting. Having there be no big-name actors as the heroes, means there is a real sense of peril for these characters as you soon realise anyone might not make it.

The set design and special effects are incredible, these towns and cities feel like living creatures and they each have their own unique style. The same thing can be said for the various flying aircraft as well. The costumes and props flesh out this futuristic world that’s simultaneously old-fashioned with their love of books and need for coal, but also modern with their guns and planes. It’s like steam-punk mixed with sci-fi, making Mortal Engines a world of its own.

Some subplots aren’t that great and never really reach their potential, one in particular concerns Valentine’s daughter (Leila George) and her unlikely ally. They are both interesting characters but once they’ve discovered enough so the audience is aware of what’s happening, they disappear and there’s no real conclusion to their arcs.

Mortal Engines is an action-packed, fun adventure about outlaws attempting to save the world from a greedy capitalist. What more could you want? 

 

ELENA’S VERDICT:

4

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Reel Women: December UK Releases

Welcome back to Reel Women, the monthly feature that highlights the films being released in the UK that are written and/or directed by women. This month we’ve got a couple of Netflix releases, some foreign language films, and the latest offering from the Transformers franchise. There’s plenty to tide you over this holiday season.

 

7 December

Dumplin’
Directed by: Anne Fletcher
Written by: Kristin Hahn

Based on the YA novel by Julie Murphy, Dumplin’ (Danielle Macdonald) is the plus-size daughter of a former beauty queen (Jennifer Aniston) who signs up to her mum’s pageant as a protest. But soon things escalate as others follow in her footsteps.

Anne Fletcher is an actress, producer and director. Dumplin’ is her seventh film and some of her previous films include The Proposal (2009) and Step Up (2006). Kristen Hahn is a director, writer and producer, Dumplin’ is her second produced screenplay.

 

Tulip Fever
Directed by: Justin Chadwick
Written by: Deborah Moggach and Tom Stoppard

An artist falls for a young married woman while he’s commissioned to paint her portrait during the Tulip mania of 17th century Amsterdam.

Deborah Moggach is a film and television screenwriter and wrote the novel Tulip Fever is based on. In 2006 her adapted screenplay of Pride & Prejudice was nominated for a BAFTA

 

Mug
Directed by: Malgorzata Szumowska
Written by: Michal Englert and Malgorzata Szumowska

When Jacek (Mateusz Kosciukiewicz) undergoes a face transplant, he suffers identity issues as he struggles to find his place again in the tight knit community he’s from.

Mug is Malgorzata Szumowska’s seventh feature film and at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival it was nominated for the Golden Berlin Bear and won the Jury Grand Prix. Szumowska has won 25 awards and has another 30 nominations to her name.

 

Theatre of War
Written & Directed by: Lola Arias

A documentary that reveals the personal stories of both British and Argentinean former soldiers whose lives were deeply affected by the Falklands war.

Theatre of War is Arias’s first film.

 

8 December

Mortal Engines
Directed by: Christian Rivers
Written by: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Peter Jackson

Set in a dystopian future where all cities are constantly moving across the Earth on wheels, Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar) fights for revenge for her mother’s murder.

Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens have collaborated with Peter Jackson previously on King Kong (2005), the Hobbit trilogy, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. They both won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003).

 

12 December

Out of Many, One
Directed by John Hoffman and Nanfu Wang

Documentary about immigration has become a divisive issue in the United States.

Nanfu Wang is a director, editor, cinematographer and producer.

 

14 December

Free Solo
Directed by: Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi

A documentary about Alex Honnold, the first person to ever free solo climb Yosemite’s 3,000ft high El Capitan Wall.

Free Solo is Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi’s sixth feature-length documentary. Her previous film Incorruptible (2015) is currently on Netflix.

 

21 December

Bird Box
Directed by: Susanne Bier
Written by: Eric Heisserer

After a mysterious event leaves the world in fear, Malorie (Sandra Bullock) and her two children must travel through a forest blindfolded in order to survive.

Susanne Bier has over 20 directing credits to her name and she’s also a writer and producer. In 2016 she won an Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie or a Dramatic Special for her work on The Night Manager.

 

24 December

Bumblebee
Directed by: Travis Knight
Written by: Christina Hodson

Set in the 1980’s, a teenage girl finds and befriends Bumblebee, an alien robot from another planet.

Bumblebee is Christina Hodson’s third produced screenplay. Her next screenplay is Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn).


That’s nine films made by women released this month – three of them are on Netflix. As always, we’d love to hear what you think of any of these films if you get the chance to see them. We’ll see you next year as we continue to shine a spotlight on female filmmakers.

It’s A Game Of Survival In A Brand New ‘Mortal Engines’ Trailer

“Hundreds of years after civilization was destroyed by a cataclysmic event, a mysterious young woman, Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar), emerges as the only one who can stop London — now a giant, predator city on wheels — from devouring everything in its path. Feral, and fiercely driven by the memory of her mother, Hester joins forces with Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan), an outcast from London, along with Anna Fang (Jihae), a dangerous outlaw with a bounty on her head.”

Directed by: Christian Rivers

Cast: Hera Hilmar, Robert Sheehan, Hugo Weaving, Frankie Adams, Stephen Lang

Release Date: December 14th, 2018

It’s Survival Of The Fastest In Brand New Trailer For ‘Mortal Engines’

“Thousands of years after civilization was destroyed by a cataclysmic event, humankind has adapted and a new way of living has evolved. Gigantic moving cities now roam the Earth, ruthlessly preying upon smaller traction towns. Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan)—who hails from a Lower Tier of the great traction city of London—finds himself fighting for his own survival after he encounters the dangerous fugitive Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar). Two opposites, whose paths should never have crossed, forge an unlikely alliance that is destined to change the course of the future.”

Directed by: Christian Rivers

Cast: Hera Hilmar, Robert Sheehan, Hugo Weaving, Frankie Adams, Stephen Lang

Release Date: December 14th, 2018

 

Epic First Trailer For Peter Jackon’s New Saga ‘Mortal Engines’

“Thousands of years after civilization was destroyed by a cataclysmic event, humankind has adapted and a new way of living has evolved. Gigantic moving cities now roam the Earth, ruthlessly preying upon smaller traction towns. Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan)—who hails from a Lower Tier of the great traction city of London—finds himself fighting for his own survival after he encounters the dangerous fugitive Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar). Two opposites, whose paths should never have crossed, forge an unlikely alliance that is destined to change the course of the future.’

Directed By: Christian Rivers

Cast: Robert Sheehan, Hera Hilmar, Hugo Weaving, Stephen Lang, Joel Tobeck

Release Date: 14th December 2018