Mortal Engines

Who could resist a film about roving cities devouring each other in a dystopian future? Almost two decades after Philip Reeve published the first of his quartet, it’s arrived on the big screen courtesy Peter Jackson and the creative crew in New Zealand.

A masked Hester Shaw outside London

It’s pretty much non-stop action, with glorious opening scenes of London chasing and devouring a smaller city. We’re introduced to the young apprentice Historian, Tom Natsworthy, who joins his leader, Thaddeus Valentine, in an attempt to scavenge old tech from a recently captured city. He thwarts an assassination attempt upon Thaddeus by Hester Shaw, a teenaged anti-Tractionist, and is witness to the connection between Hester and Thaddeus, and thus is expelled from the city to protect Thaddeus’ secrets.

The film follows Tom’s attempts to return to the city, and his discovery of more about the world he inhabits as he follows Hester to survive.

There are androids, steampunk airships, floating cities, slave traders, revolutionaries and, ultimately, a confrontation between London and the Asians hiding behind their great wall.

The Jenny Haniver in action

Can I just say I love the red flying machine, Jenny Haniver, a cross between Zeppelin and jet engined striker[1]. I want one!
An enjoyable action film, glorious to view, with excellent special effects.

Hugo Weaving makes a wonderful villain, Thaddeus Valentine, as he strives to keep London powerful and supreme. Hera Hilmar, an Icelandic actress, plays Hester Shaw, and the Irish Robert Sheehan plays Tom, the third major character through which the story of Mortal Engines is told.

The story is complete in this film; no doubt sequels will tackle the rest of the quartet if the film is successful. They pack a lot into the 128 minutes of the movie! Enjoyable, visually stunning, but without that spark of originality which would make it one of the greats.

[1] Jenny Hanivers are hoaxes from the old Dutch times. They are actually rays and devil fish carved to make them look like Sea Monks or Bishop Fish. They are usually shown off as proof of dragons or fairies.