Two great things to note about Mortal Engines. The steampunk mobile cities & awesome vehicles are eye candies.The CGI backdrops are also lovely enough for you not to notice the disconnected narration.
Mortal Engines Synopsis
Centuries after Earth’s devastation by a cataclysmic event known as the Sixty Minute War, the remnants of humanity are divided between two opposing factions. In Europe, giant mobile cities hunt and absorb smaller settlements, practicing a philosophy known as Municipal Darwinism. In the East, the Anti-Traction League leads a group of static cities, settlements protected by a powerfully armed Shield Wall. The movie begins with mysterious assassin Hester Shaw’s unsuccessful attempt to kill Thaddeus Valentine, Head of the Guild of Historians of mobile London. As Shaw flees from Valentine’s men, she is assisted by Tom Natsworthy, a London apprentice historian. Together, they then uncover a larger conspiracy headed by Valentine. To their horror, Valentine dreams of wiping out the Anti-Traction League once and for all.
I mostly enjoyed this, in spite of the uneven story. I’m a big steampunk fan and we just don’t get enough movies of that genre, do we? What’s more, the show comes with huge trundling monstrosities resembling the Tower of Babel.
Or oh-so-cool air vehicles that look right out of Daz3D or Renderosity.
Yeah. The visual candy was thrilling enough for me not to mind the, erm, bumbling story.
Not that there anything that unbearable about the story, allow me to highlight. It’s your usual dystopia adventuring quest albeit one told with characters abruptly forgotten, then retrieved, and a backstory that’s barely laid out.
The latter, IMO, is also what earned Mortal Engines its current negative reviews. Philip Reeve’s vision of Earth after apocalypse is not as straight-forward as it seems, as like all such worlds. There has to be a lot more behind why some cities chose to go “mobile” while other stayed static, or why the entire end-conflict seems like a cultural confrontation between the East and West.
Now, I have not read the book, so I’m unsure whether these area were decently explored by Reeve in his writings. As far as the movie is concerned, the viewer is purely told but never spoken with. The result of which, expectedly, is a marked lack of narrative connection. Which then evolves into a case of the movie being enjoyable for its noisy machines, but little else. In some parts, I’d even say the whole tale barely makes sense.
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