Mortal Engines: A Spectacle… but one with Little Substance.

two-and-a-half-stars
Despite what the trailers would have you believe, Mortal Engines is not directed by Peter Jackson but rather produced by him.
It is clear his name was used for recognition to try and get people into theaters because, given how badly this film has bombed, there was not much else that would draw an audience in.
Mortal Engines is actually directed by Christian Rivers and, I will admit, when I first saw the trailers I was intrigued.
The whole concept of the film was a bit ridiculous and, like most, I was fooled into believing Peter Jackson was the director but I still thought it looked like a spectacle.
And it was a spectacle… but one with little substance.
The film takes place in a dystopian future where large cities like London have been made mobile and capture other cities for their supplies to keep going.
This concept does require a large suspension of disbelief going in but the film could have still succeeded by going for a Mad Max type of movie.
This is evident by the exciting opening scene, which features London chasing down and capturing a smaller city in a thrilling action sequence with great CGI.

London chase
The opening scene of London chasing down a smaller city was genuinely exciting. If only the rest of the movie was like this.

However, after this Mortal Engines unfortunately delves into the realm of a young adult story that we have all seen a thousand times.
Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar) is the typical female protagonist out for revenge against a dictatorial government leader and Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan) is her bland love interest.
Their love for one another grows throughout the film, only for it to completely fall apart when you realise they have almost nothing in common and have known each other for a few days at the most.
As for Hugo Weaving’s Thaddeus Valentine, he is the typically evil government figure out for power that we have seen in all of these types of films.
Almost every character in Mortal Engines is incredibly bland or a character we have already seen in every single young adult more ever.
The one exception to this is Shrike (Stephen Lang) a character who, despite only having a small amount of screen time, is surprisingly sympathetic and a multi-dimensional character.

Shrike.jpg
Shrike is a surprisingly relatable character in a large cast of bland and cliche ones.  

With the exception of him though, every other character is bland or cliche, and this is not helped by the story these characters inhabit.
Full of plot holes and eye rolling moments, the writing makes it very difficult to care about what is happening most of the time.
The worst moment of Mortal Engines has to be right at the beginning when a historian declares that the Minions from Despicable Me are valuable ancient relics.
This alone shows how cringe inducing this film can get at times.
Like I said though, there are a few moments in the film when it is a spectacle to behold.
The opening action sequence is great and the other ones across the film are also fairly enjoyable, even if you do not really care about what is happening.
I just wish the excitement of this first action scene was carried along across the film because then it would have been a much better experience.