Movie Review: Mortal Engines

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The things we do for love. In my case, I watched this Robert Sheehan movie.

Let’s be honest right from the jump friends; Robert Sheehan is a babe. He is very very very pretty and thus I decided to watch whatever I could because I appreciate a pretty man. My friends and I decided to check this movie out after all seeing Umbrella Academy and coming away with Klaus as our favorite, and boy this movie is a trip.

I watched this film without having any backstory on the book or characters or anything having to do with this film and it doesn’t do a great job at explaining. This is one of those movies where it throws SO MUCH at you right off the bat, it’s hard for it to catch back up with explaining why all of these aspects are important. We jump right in showing the roaming towns on wheels but it never really get a full explanation as to what caused it. The movie also casts Hugo Weaving in the villain role which, is there ANY movie in which someone sees Hugo Weaving and doesn’t immediately assume he’s a villain aside from Lord of the Rings? To be fair, Hugo Weaving is a boss and made this movie bearable.

The whole design of this is great. I loved the steampunk elements, I thought the rolling cities were cool, I loved the space pirate element to it; it was just bogged down by a bad script. We don’t get a lot of depth or growth out of our characters and it feels really flat. Like this entire movie was storyboarded with an art style before anyone thought “hey, how are we going to fit a great YA series into one 2 hour movie? We need dialogue right?”

I actually went and read the book after seeing this movie because I wanted to know if this was an issue with the source material or just the film and my friends, it is just the film. The book this movie is based upon is a great YA adventure story! It explains so much more about how this world came to be, it gives us more of a glimpse into Tom’s mind and thoughts and I really enjoyed it.

There’s some big differences from the book to the movie. Magnus Crome is a much more villainous character in the books, but the movie seems to have combined the characters of Valentine and Magnus in the book to provide the movie with a single, core villain. Shrike in the movies is Grike in the book, and I found the chase scenes in the books to have much more impact because they had time to build. The biggest change is Hester’s face, which is described as severely disfigured in the book yet in the movie she just has a rather minimal scar in comparison. The role of Katherine is also HUGE in the book and she’s the reason the plan to stop Valentine actually works. In the movie is Hester and Tom who do all the heavy lifting, but in the book Katherine is a key element and her story of discovering who her father really was is character growth. That being said movie version Anna Fang is a BOSS and I would die for her.

Overall this film just doesn’t do a competent job of explaining and making an audience understand this new, fantastical world. In science fiction/fantasy, world building is key and while the book does a good job at establishing it, the movie drops you in with a few lines of exposition and only causes you to have more questions. It’s not all bad. There’s a lot of fun to be had watching it because it’s so ridiculous and it was a great movie to hang out and heckle with friends, but I’m glad I didn’t pay to see it. Watch it on Netflix while you’re cleaning or something and you’ll have a fine time.

And if all else fails, just mute it and look at Robert Sheehan for a while. You can thank me later.

 

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