July 22, 2019

Winnipeg
18° C, Clear

Full Forecast

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Dystopian tale gets by on oddball charm

Film features young adults fighting for survival in post-apocalyptic future, again

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/12/2018 (219 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

If one must categorize, the movie Mortal Engines falls into the newly-minted genre — the post-apocalyptic-young-adult-adventure.

To its credit, it doesn’t really feel like a stab at that potentially lucrative market, where crummy movies such as Hunger Games can pay off big dividends. Produced and written by the Lord of the Rings trio of Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, it layers a certain loopy majesty on a premise that is, well, pretty strange.

Roughly 1,000 years into the future, the world is a realm of fugitives and scavengers, save for the residents of “predator cities,” roving metropolises on giant caterpillar tracks capable of swallowing whole the small towns foraging in its path. (Think Mad Max attempting to speed away from an ambulatory Brisbane and you get the idea.)

In the opening sequence, the city of London, commanded by Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo Weaving), descends on and “ingests” a mining town, ripping apart the structure for fuel and presumably enslaving its citizens. (Restraint points to director Christian Rivers for bucking any urge to set the whole sequence to The Clash’s London Calling.) One young woman in the town, scar-faced Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar), uses the occasion to make an attempt on the life of Valentine, but is stopped from her mission by ambitious archeologist Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan), who hopes to be mentored by the powerful London kingpin.

Get the full story.
No credit card required. Cancel anytime.

Join free for 30 days

After that, pay as little as $0.99 per month for the best local news coverage in Manitoba.

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Keep reading free:

Already have an account? Log in here »

Subscribers Log in below to continue reading,
not a subscriber? Create an account to start a 30 day free trial.

Log in Create your account

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Mon to Sat Delivery

Pay

$34.36

per month

  • Includes all benefits of All Access Digital
  • 6-day delivery of our award-winning newspaper
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/12/2018 (219 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

If one must categorize, the movie Mortal Engines falls into the newly-minted genre — the post-apocalyptic-young-adult-adventure.

To its credit, it doesn’t really feel like a stab at that potentially lucrative market, where crummy movies such as Hunger Games can pay off big dividends. Produced and written by the Lord of the Rings trio of Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, it layers a certain loopy majesty on a premise that is, well, pretty strange.

Roughly 1,000 years into the future, the world is a realm of fugitives and scavengers, save for the residents of "predator cities," roving metropolises on giant caterpillar tracks capable of swallowing whole the small towns foraging in its path. (Think Mad Max attempting to speed away from an ambulatory Brisbane and you get the idea.)

In the opening sequence, the city of London, commanded by Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo Weaving), descends on and "ingests" a mining town, ripping apart the structure for fuel and presumably enslaving its citizens. (Restraint points to director Christian Rivers for bucking any urge to set the whole sequence to The Clash’s London Calling.) One young woman in the town, scar-faced Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar), uses the occasion to make an attempt on the life of Valentine, but is stopped from her mission by ambitious archeologist Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan), who hopes to be mentored by the powerful London kingpin.

The post-apocalyptic young adult fantasy flick Mortal Engines rolls into and out of one's consciousness like "traction cities" that roam its landscape. (Universal Pictures)</p>

The post-apocalyptic young adult fantasy flick Mortal Engines rolls into and out of one's consciousness like "traction cities" that roam its landscape. (Universal Pictures)

That doesn’t work out. Soon, both Hester and Tom are abandoned in the wasteland, and Valentine is seeking information on his mysterious attacker, a pursuit that leads to the barely human Shrike (Stephen Lang in a motion-capture performance), a battle cyborg "resurrected" from the body of a soldier ages earlier. Shrike is released from his prison to fulfil his stated mission: killing Hester.

That frees Valentine to pursue a mission of his own: employing the same technology that all but destroyed the world to take power for himself, much to the growing consternation of his daughter Katherine (Leila George).

Production-wise, the film is a cut above the Hunger Games ilk. While this is a first feature for Rivers, producer Jackson knows a thing or two about creating a strange new world from whole digital cloth, and the film is rife with vistas desolate and beautiful.

As antagonists go, Shrike is an especially impressive creation, suggesting what would happen if an Iron Giant-style robot opted for an operating system of pure malevolence.

For the lead roles, the film opted for comparative unknowns, a risky proposition, notwithstanding precedents along the lines of Star Wars. Hilmar brings a certain fury to the role, possibly driven by having to act out the cliché of the beautiful woman who believes herself to be hideous because of a facial scar. As Tom, Sheehan brings a dangerous amount of "academic twit" to the role, making for an unusual if not altogether likable hero.

The film is an adaptation of the first in a series of books by Philip Reeve, and given the critical drubbing the movie is getting — it’s currently 30 per cent at Rotten Tomatoes — it’s not likely any film sequels will be forthcoming.

But if making the movie was a gamble, seeing the movie is a risk worth taking on the strength of sheer oddball charm.

randall.king@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @FreepKing

Hugo Weaving as Thaddeus Valentine and Patrick Malahide as Magnus Crome. (Universal Pictures)</p>

Hugo Weaving as Thaddeus Valentine and Patrick Malahide as Magnus Crome. (Universal Pictures)

Randall King

Randall King
Reporter

In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.

Read full biography

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us