Mortal Engines shouldn’t be dismissed as just another adaptation of a young adult novel set in a grim future where a gutsy heroine fights to bring down an oppressive regime. With Peter Jackson onboard as a producer, this stunning sci-fi fantasy adventure shares more in common with The Lord of the Rings than The Hunger Games.
The concept alone is a belter. Following a ‘Sixty Minute War’ that turned the Earth into a wasteland, predatory traction cities prowl the landscape on gigantic treads, ingesting towns and plundering their resources. The most fearsome of these is London – a steampunk monstrosity (crowned by St. Paul’s Cathedral) that upgrades itself using valuable ‘old tech’ scavenged from the ruins.
Scarred fugitive Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar)may be the only one capable of preventing this mobile metropolis from consuming all in its path. Finding a valuable ally in London outcast Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan), the pair join forces with the Anti-Traction League to stop the predator city in its tracks.
While the plot and characters aren’t particularly remarkable, Mortal Engines is a conceptual and visual triumph that will blow you away with its incredible production design and world building. Boasting the same level of intricate detail that went into the creation of Middle-earth, as well as swooping cinematography that dives and weaves through the Victorian-era aesthetic of London, Jackson and director Christian Rivers have brought a unique and mythologically rich new world to the screen.
Adapted from the first novel in a four-book saga by Philip Reeve, the possibility of further exploring the landscape and lore of Mortal Engines is enticing, although a return visit will ultimately depend on box office dollars.
In cinemas: December 6, 2018
Starring: Hera Hilmar, Robert Sheehan, Hugo Weaving
Directed by: Christian Rivers