The Jakarta Post
I plead guilty for not reading Mortal Engines, the novel by Philip Reeve, prior to watching the film. However, since Peter Jackson was involved in the movie as one of the producers and writers, and it took him around 10 years to finish the film, I was certain the film adaptation would not be a disappointment.
Fortunately, I was right.
The film is set hundreds of years after civilization was destroyed by a cataclysmic event known as the Sixty Minute War. On the future Earth, current technological devices, including your brand new smartphone, are displayed as relics. The Earth’s landscape has changed, and London has become a giant moving city.
The movie opens with Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan), a Londoner who has never set foot outside the city. As an orphan, he had to bury his dream of becoming an aviator, and he now works at the London Museum, studying relics from past civilizations.
The plot does not get straight to business. At the beginning of the film, the audience is slowly introduced to the steampunk version of London as well as the main characters. But the plot is chock-full of events and action, which should glue the moviegoers on their seats, while also giving them an idea of what the future has in store for planet Earth.
After the first 30 minutes of the film, we got to know the city’s lead archaeologist, Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo Weaving), and his daughter Katherine Valentine (Leina George). The audience was exposed to Thaddeus’ persona to come to the same conclusion as Tom, namely that the archaeologist was going to lead London to a better life.
Then, along with Tom, we meet Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar), the film’s heroine, who wants to kill Thaddeus. The plot then follows the battles between Hester and Tom as well as their encounter with Anti-Tractionist aviatrix Anna Fang (Jihae) and a robot with a human soul, Shrike (Stephen Lang).
As someone who has yet to read the book, I found that the writers, Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, did a great job in introducing the characters. They not only showed the characters on screen but also gave glimpses into their past, allowing us to better understand each character.
The plot is intense but features some jokes, allowing the audience to breathe.
Science fiction relies heavily on the visual. Since the movie was directed by Christian Rivers, an Academy Award winner for Best Achievement in Visual Effects in 2006, you can expect visuals to be among the strengths of the film. The movie showcases a steampunk version of London as something monstrous, while the peaceful Shan Guo is a feast for the eyes.
Mortal Engines meets the expectations of those who have yet to read the novel. The team basically put everything in the right place: an adequate amount of action, striking visuals and an easy-to-follow plot, creating a film that deserves to be watched. (kes)
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