From the creators of Lord of the Rings (Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh & Zane Weiner) comes a new world, ripe and new. An adventure that soars with concepts visualised in the most beautiful of ways. This is an epic for the ages, with elements pulled from Jackson’s past works in the world building side of things – pushing special effects to the extreme limits, it has some of the best CGI work probably in the history of cinema.
Mortal Engines follows Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar), on a quest to avenge her mother’s death. Hester must fight for her survival, she meets Tom (Robert Sheehan) as she attempts to get her revenge in the moving city of London. Valentine (Hugo Weaving) is a dastardly and manipulative man who plans to stage an attack on the great wall and devour the remaining settlements. The world is set far in the future where civilisation has gone beyond repair.
The film is successful on almost all accounts, with its rich world building we delve into the future that has been so carefully plotted and placed – you can’t help but be in awe of the wonder your eyes feast upon. The sweeping shots from director Christian Rivers in chase scenes similar Mad Max: Fury Road, capture the sheer sense of scale and power of the mobile cities.
However the film does suffer a little from its rather flat dialogue at points, elements of the script are very well written and without a doubt the screenplay is marvelous but just the use of familiar cliches may serve to rub some people in the eye rolling way or you will scan over the discrepancies due to the absolute charm of the characters.
Hester is the most fleshed out character, entirely likable and a great lead. Hera Hilmar shines as she commands those surrounding, with the ruthless-yet-kind inner nature that is explored throughout. Hugo Weaving puts on a convincing performance with his intensity and heart (for a little while) corrupted by power and greed. Jihae plays Anna Fang, a fugitive with a temper for those opposing her – Jihae puts on a likeable performance in her some-what cliche written role, however subverting the male saviour trope at the same time.
The film is ferocious with the searing sounds ripping through the screen and the violence portrayed tests the limits of what is expected of a fantasy adventure. It is ambitious in its concept and execution with it’s architectural feel, all exquisitely realised.
Illustrated is a film that talks about politics, society, colonialism and human sentiments in a specific way – perhaps as a warning for our future as a constantly developing world. All displayed in the most spectacular and devastating way to really drill in the key ideas of how a world can be turned into ruins within days.
It is a hard film to market, so I must tell you – go watch it! It is the best high-concept adventure film since The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit, you will be swept up in the magic of this wondrous escapist world, full of colour and vibrancy in the darkest of times.