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"Mortal Engines" Movie Review

Updated on December 17, 2021
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Nathan is a film critic and aspiring author with a true passion for the film industry who hopes his writings will help launch his career.

Movies based on books can be a fickle thing. Sometimes they're perfect adaptations, sometimes things are changed, sometimes the film isn't like the book at all, and then there's those times when the film doesn't include enough backstory for the average filmgoer to completely understand everything without needing to go to the book for help. Mortal Engines falls under the latter, delivering a good film but only slightly explains the backstory and the why to it all.

The film takes place in the distant future, at least 1000 years from now, when the world has become a wasteland. What was left of humanity regrouped and formed mobile cities, powered by massive engines. The city of London spends its days wandering Europe, looking for smaller colonies. They trap and absorb these colonies, stealing their resources and forcing the people to work for them. Vallentine, Head of the Guild of Historians, has convinced London's leader Lord Mayor Magnus Crome that he is working on an energy project that will save the city. Hester Shaw, a young woman who was part of the colony absorbed by London, is on a mission to assassinate Vallentine. Tom, an aspiring historian, is at the right place at the right time and thwarts the assassination attempt. He finds out too late, however, that Vallentine is hiding something big as he admits to killing Hester's mother Pandora. Hester and Tom escape and now must rely on each other if they are to survive and take Vallentine down.

I try my best not to spoil anything in my reviews so I apologize if my plot summary was a bit too revealing. It's difficult to review this film without at least revealing a little bit. So, in an effort to stay as secretive as possible, let me just say that, while there was a little background revealed, I felt that it wasn't enough for people unfamiliar with the book. It wasn't difficult to understand without backstory, there were just some questions that arose due to not knowing the history.

From what I've read, the film keeps fairly close with the main plot of the book with only a few changes. I commend that, especially with today's film studios changing books to fit their limited views.

The visuals were outstanding. It's difficult to choose which film this year had the best effects. From Ready Player One to Avengers: Infinity War to Aquaman, this has been an incredible year for visually dynamic films.

The acting was both good and mediocre. Hugo Weaving was without a doubt the best performer of the film, once again making it look so easy to be a morally corrupt baddie who craves power. Hugo's an absolute genius of an actor.

In conclusion, I think it's worth seeing in theaters but it will be a big help if you read the book first. I give the film a 3 out of 4.

© 2018 Nathan Jasper


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