Producer Peter Jackson is keeping busy with the novel adaptation MORTAL ENGINES: WAR OF THE CITIES Exceptionally quite short. We reveal in our review how this affects the film and why we are remarkably positively surprised.
The Plot Summary
In a dystopian future in which most resources have already been used up, various cities have survived in a fascinating, abstruse way: They have assembled themselves into gigantic, moving mountains of buildings and, powered by monumental engines, drive from A to B, always on the lookout for other, smaller cities that they can attack, destroy and rob. One of the larger cities that still exists is London, although there is uncertainty among London’s most powerful as to how long the city can continue to do this. When London one day takes over the traveling city of the masked Hester (Hera Hilmar), the life of historian apprentice Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan) is turned upside down. Because the young man has to watch as Hester tries to kill his idol Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo Weaving), whom Hester holds responsible for her mother’s death…
Movie explanation of the ending
The (pre-)Christmas cinema season this year is more jam-packed with notable productions than it has been for a long time. After Nikolaus, among other things, a zombie Christmas high school musical, a nightmarish drug dance film, a conspiracy theory mystery thriller comedy, a heist drama, a cyber horror film and a star-studded USA comedy were released In the coming days, among other things, these materials will be vying for the attention of the cinema audience: a Spider-Man animated film, the new DC adventure “Aquaman”, Disney’s “Mary Poppins” sequel, which has received advance praise from the US, and the family-oriented “Transformers” spin-off “Bumblebee “ and the Hape Kerkeling biography “The boy needs to get some fresh air”. As well as a new film by the man who has made the local cinema box office ring loudly seven times during Advent: Peter Jackson. From 2001 to 2003, the New Zealander attracted more than 30 million people to the cinemas with the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy he directed, and over 2.5 million in 2005 with his extravagant “King Kong” spectacle, and from 2012 to 2015 Jackson reached more than 18 million fantasy fans with the “The Hobbit” films. On all of these films, Jackson worked with Christian Rivers, among others: The effects artist has known Jackson since the “Braindead” days and was significantly involved in the dinosaur fight in “King Kong,” among other things. Rivers is now celebrating his directorial debut with the novel adaptation “Mortal Engines – War of the Cities”, produced by Jackson. Jackson gave Rivers further help by contributing to the script, which was also written by producers Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh. “Mortal Engines” comes from the pens of both Middle-earth trilogies as well as “King Kong”, but also the less popular book adaptation “In My Heaven”…
Jihae cuts a fine figure in her first major film role.
The narrative that emerges from the exotic foundation rests on two conceptual pillars. First: “Just accept our ideas”or to put it more positively “Don’t question everything just because you can question it.”. The idea of moving monster cities grazing the almost depleted earth makes for impressive images, so you have to accept it – at least that’s how the film operates. If “Mortal Engines – War of the Cities” were an anime, only a fraction of the audience would look for gaps in this logic, so why should the film be hit harder just because it was made with real people, real sets and a lot of computer animation? So you have to bring the desire to explore a foreign world with you to the cinema, otherwise you’ll quickly be lost with “Mortal Engines – War of the Cities”. Reassuringly, Christian Rivers does not rely solely on this advance performance from his audience. Although “Mortal Engines” leaves out technical explanations of its film world, Rivers does solidify the concept on a visual level: The costume and production design is consistently coherent and full of interlocking details, which makes the world of this novel adaptation look plausible and, if you will, feels coherent. Even if it’s not necessarily her. After all, this is about a future in which humanity complains about a massive lack of resources and the traveling city of London worries about whether it will soon run out of energy – all while it operates, among other things, house-sized circular saws and other monster mechanisms. Not that Jackson, Walsh and Boyens would do anything with this contradiction, although in a dystopia it would be easy to use such duplicity to hold a mirror up to our society and environmental policy.
Contrary to the genre norm, “Mortal Engines – War of the Cities” doesn’t pursue a central message anyway – unless you watch the film “Destruction is stupid” want to break down. The trio of authors does not spin any stringent theses from Philip Reeve’s template, but instead sprinkles in various small political and social comments. When we are with Tom in the London museum, there are a few swipes at the hubris of the 21st century, several antagonistic characters embody warmongering and egomania, and a short plot thread that only touches on the central plot raises the question of whether it is a fair price would be to exchange one’s body for the eradication of all (including mental) pain. This branch, which is hardly relevant in terms of content, is one of the rare cases where one could have used the scissors in this film: Unlike the last three fantasy epics produced by Peter Jackson, “Mortal Engines” moves forward quickly and in a focused manner instead of expanding its story far beyond measure . Which leads us to the second pillar of this film: “Mortal Engines – War of the Cities” is a production that is thoroughly talked about “The route is the goal” applies. Without a theme that unifies the entire narrative and can be explored at the end, “Mortal Engines – War of the Cities” becomes (paradoxically for a dystopia) a film that is primarily there to provide a two-hour vacation in a fictional one World made by cameraman Simon Raby (“Deathgasm”) is functionally illuminated and captured. Here, the mostly aesthetic video game influences are also noticeable on another level: Not a sane soul wants the “Fallout” games to become reality – and yet millions of gamers love to spend hours upon hours in their fictional ones World. That’s how it is with “Mortal Engines”: Because of the amazing design and the great inventiveness that ensures that there is no monotony over the course of Hester and Tom’s journey, this shattered world is fun to look at – no matter how perplexed you may be like.
Hugo Weaving plays the insane Thaddeus Valentine with stoic determination.
This steampunk-meets-fantasy “Mad Max: Fury Road” universe borrows from Miller’s wild action ride the composer – Junkie XL, who tries to adapt the “Fury Road” feel for this film world in the action passages: Heavy strings , but they provoke a heavier, more sedate sound than the faster, more anarchic vision of the future that underscored Junkie XL. In the more dramatic passages, the composer moves further away from his previous works, with only a recurring, gently exotic theme remaining succinctly in mind. Jonno Woodford-Robinson’s editing, meanwhile, is a bit too abrupt during hand-to-hand combat in the first act to give us in the audience as much of an overview of the film world as we would like, but the editing gradually calms down, leaving more time for wonder remains without the pace of the narrative suffering. It is unfortunate that one of our two adventurous “travel companions” is a bit of a tormentor through this story: Robert Sheehan (“Geostorm”) Although he tries to portray Tom as inquisitive and helpful, he simply can’t compete with his material – and that paints Tom as a slow-witted chatterbox who takes himself very seriously. Tom’s character development into a capable companion of Hester’s is also one of the most unbelievable things in this film about traveling megacities. The Icelandic Hera Hilmar (“Inside Wikileaks”) On the other hand, the main role of the lone fighter Hester Shaw is great: she plays the killer with convincing anger and desperation, and she also manages to give the tough, capable Hester an accessible, sensitive nuance through the exhausted looks without weakening the role. The rest of the cast remains largely pale, Hugo Weaving (“Hacksaw Ridge”) but draws attention to herself with occasional overacting, whereas musician Jihae (“Mars”) as a pilot and revolutionary, she does exactly what she’s supposed to: she brings swagger and attitude to her role as a living, almost infallible legend.
The biggest stumbling block that “Mortal Engines – War of the Cities” encounters is the dialogue: While smaller, not too emotionally charged, interpersonal moments and livelier exchanges are solid, the exposition is often wooden. Only very rarely is it woven fluently into the conversations, for example when Tom shares some of his findings with an acquaintance who is less knowledgeable about history – mostly in this film people explain things to each other that they haven’t asked about and/or that they already know, but just like that want to say it again. As the playing time goes on, there is an increasing number of hackneyed script phrases that simply sound silly coming from these characters’ mouths. What makes matters worse is that these phrases often follow as an additional beat when the relevant statements have already been made – you could delete most of the bad sentences and not lose anything in terms of content. This is the panicked exclamation “They’re hunters!” the question “And what are they hunting?” provoked, which is answered with “Us!” without a hint of irony or annoyance, is just the tip of the cliché metropolis rolling along. How lucky that most of the characters in Mortal Engines – War of the Cities are not the most talkative.
Peter Jackson’s latest production is particularly convincing on a visual level.
Conclusion: It remains to be seen whether Peter Jackson and company will make big money again in the Christmas cinema season. Despite some weaknesses, the beautifully designed, narratively unoriginal sci-fi-fantasy-adventure mishmash “Mortal Engines – War of the Cities” could definitely be treated to a certain extent. Even if it’s just for the entertaining narrative style – that’s something Jackson has recently become unfamiliar with.
“Mortal Engines – War of the Cities” can be seen in many USA cinemas from December 13, 2018 – also in 3D.