Skip to main content

Ads

loading...

Featured Post

Simplisafe Wireless Home Security Review

Simple to install and very easy to use, Simplisafe is a great home alarm system which is monitored by a security firm that can call out the police on your behalf.
Should I Buy The Simplisafe Wireless Home Security System?
The Simplisafe system couldn’t be easier to self-install, but it does require a monthly subscription which could put some people off. We’d like the option of an external siren, but other than that, it’s a comprehensive smart security system.

Ads

ads

Flipboard

Flipboard

Mortal Engines Movie Review

Tech and the City

Editor's note: we get a lot of pitches and screening invitations here at BPBS, and much as we'd like to - being the movie buffs that we are - we can't cover everything. Sometimes it seems easy to rule out an upcoming release based on a trailer, so when I saw a big-screen preview of "Mortal Engines" and rolled my eyes at what looked like an overblown sci-fi mess, I mentally crossed it off our coverage list, assuming it would be awful, end of story. Well, it turns out that BPBS co-founder and former reviewer Joe Lozito thought otherwise, and as we caught up with each other at a recent Christmas party he made a strong case for "Mortal Engines". What's an editor to do? Ask for a review, that's what! Here's a film that brought Joe out of reviewer retirement, so you know it has to be something special - and he may even convince me to see it (though he's still had no luck on the "Taxi Driver" front...).

-Lora

"Mortal Engines" is the first adaption of Phillip Reeve's quartet of novels. There isn't likely to be a second - at least, if you believe the film's negative reviews which, judging from the box office, most people do. To be sure, there are plenty of reasons to poo-poo this film, even sight unseen. For one thing, there's the previously bullet-proof pedigree "From the people who brought you The Lord of the Rings films," which nowadays retains a bit of the stank from the bloated "Hobbit" trilogy. Add in the fact that Peter Jackson hands over directorial reins to his long-time storyboard artist, Christian Rivers, and there's enough reason to be doubtful.

Then there's the story itself, about a post-apocalyptic future in which thousands of years have passed since a "big event" that decimated the world's population, prompting the remaining survivors to put their cities on wheels and start roaming the wasteland gobbling each other up. Biggest city wins. They call it "Municipal Darwinism" (c'mon, that's pretty great). Finally, there are the troubling geo-political implications of the story. London consuming other cities? Entering Europe and then trying to find a way to exit? While the best sci-fi is based in metaphor, it's far too short a hop from this set-up to British Colonialism and the current state of the EU.

For better or worse, political statements seem low on the list of the filmmaker's priorities. More important is the realization of Mr. Reeve's world and the infrastructure that supports it. And it's there that the film soars in a way that is reminiscent of the best of sci-fi films. "The Fifth Element" comes quickly to mind due to the fast-pace and vibrant color palate.

The most disingenuous criticism of "Mortal Engines" revolves around the rote nature of the plot.  Yes, the plot is fairly trope-heavy, but no more so that the vast majority of blockbusters out there. And at least it's not about a "Chosen One" for once (ahem, "The Matrix" and countless YA adaptations, I'm looking in your direction). This is just your typical "little guy (or gal) takes on the establishment" story. In this case, the little person is Hester Shaw (played by Icelandic actress Hera Hilmar), a scarred traveler who has it out for London's leader, Thaddeus Valentine, for reasons that will be made abundantly clear.

If the fact that Hugo Weaving plays Valentine doesn't immediate tip you off to the direction the plot is headed, well good for you! You'll be more surprised than most of the audience.

Hester's partner/meet-cute love interest is Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan, "Killing Bono"), who works in the London Museum and scavenges for the kind of valuable "old Tech" that the movie has a lot of fun with (wait'll you see the "Museum of Screens" or the "American Deities"). One piece of this Tech is the typical MacGuffin that will become very important to the plot later.

Mr. River's experience as a visual artist shows. The detailed realization of these "traction cities," as they're called, and the world they inhabit is thrilling. In the novel, Mr. Reeve likens them to layered wedding cakes, and sure enough, London looks like a ramshackle amalgamation of classic landmarks - with St Paul's Cathedral rising high at the top - piled on top of each other, just barely holding on.

There are several supporting factions at work here. Too many to get into. But the most interesting is a bounty hunter that's part zombie, part Terminator, part Robocop. The backstory of this character, named Shrike and voiced by Avatar's Stephen Lang, and his connection to Hester, gives the plot its unexpected heart.

Is "Mortal Engines" a perfectly unique and transcendent bit of sci-fi storytelling? No. But does it deserve the kind of social media-fueled schadenfreude that gives angry internet mobs their raison d'etre? Absolutely not. For those willing to look past all that, "Mortal Engines" is a thrilling first entry into Mr. Reeve's inventive world. And it might just make you mourn for the fact that there will not be another.



Comments

ads

loading...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Loading...

Popular posts from this blog

Game Of Thrones Season 8 - End Game With Sinhala Subtitles

WD My Cloud Mirror 4TB Review

If you’re looking for a home storage solution but can’t be bothered sourcing and installing your own disks then the WD My Cloud Mirror is an attractive option at a good price. WD My Cloud Mirror 4TB review.
Should I Buy The WD My Cloud Mirror 4TB?
When it comes to ease of use the WE My Cloud Mirror is hard to beat. Initial setup is very easy and even sorting our remote access is simple too. For sharing music, movies, photos and documents it works a treat and performance is fine. The downside is that you don’t get the huge range of apps that are available for other brands. However, if you prioritise ease of set up and ease of use the WD is worth looking at and with 4 TB of storage included for the price, it’s a great value option.

Huawei P30 Lite Review

A cheaper version of Huawei's flagship P30 phones is tempting and while the P30 Lite has good style and cameras, it falls down in other areas and has tough competition. Find our why in our full review.
Should I Buy The Huawei P30 Lite?
The P30 Lite is an attractive phone with decent cameras at an affordable price.
However, it falls down in other areas which are important. Most notably performance and battery life.

Drobo 5N2 Review

Drobo's latest NAS starts with the assumption that everyone who buys a NAS box doesn’t start with a full complement of identical hard drives. Here's our Drobo 5N2 review.
Should I buy the Drobo 5N2?
It might be relatively expensive, but the flexible RAID system that can handle multiple drives of different size could be a major cost saving for many users. The performance, build quality and expanding app selection also makes the Drobo 5N2 a highly desirable solution.

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (7390) Review: Hands-on

The redesigned XPS 13 2-in-1 is finally good enough to really rival Dell's traditional laptops - find out what we thought when it launched at Computex 2019.
Should I Buy The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (7390)?
We won't know just how well the new 10nm Intel chips perform until we get the XPS 13 2-in-1 into the office for a proper review, but on paper this looks like a very capable machine. Strong specs combined with the best of Dell's already strong XPS design language mean that not only does this look like a good convertible, it might even dethrone its clamshell cousin from the top of the laptop world.

Like Fan Page