Mortal Engines is Flawed but Brilliantly Original (Review)

by | Dec 18, 2018

So after a week where nothing came out for movies (at least in the village where I live), this week there were TWO releases.  I had my choice between Mortal Engines and Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse. I wanted to see both, they both looked wonderful.  But a quick hop on Rotten Tomatoes showed me that they were not equal – Spiderman was at 98% or so, Mortal Engines was at 35%. So did I want to gush over a doubtlessly flawless movie or did I want to write about a dumpster fire?  Well you see what I chose. I went in with super low expectations and was delighted by what I saw.

In a post-apocalyptic world where cities ride on wheels and consume each other to survive, two people meet in London and try to stop a conspiracy.

Mortal Engines was gorgeous to look at.  Just the sheer spectacle of a city on wheels was amazing.  All the designs of the little, similarly mobile, towns, was also wonderful.  Everything looked so good, mostly because it’s like nothing we’ve actually seen before.  It felt so original. Do I really need to see another story about a radioactive spider bite? No I do not.  But walking cities that eat each other? Hell yes. There were other fantastically unique in Mortal Engines too and they were all glorious.  They were all designed down to the smallest logo and that deserves some praise.

Mortal Engines had a solid cast too.  I love Robert Sheehan unreservedly and I was pretty impressed with Hugo Weaving.  Jihae was a lot of fun as Anna Fang; she was so badass! And Stephen Lang was also amazing, though that might have also been due to his make-up and special effects.  There was no fan service, which was a shame. This is a movie based on Young Adult Fiction AND they had Robert Sheehan, so there was absolutely no excuse. I guess we got a couple Hugo Weaving chest hairs, which was better than nothing.

The real parts I had trouble with was the writing.  I couldn’t get through the novel it was based on (though I’m bad with YAF). And I had troubles with the sheer impossible logistics of the whole thing.  Mortal Engines might appear to be sci-fi but really it’s about as scientifically credible as, say, Lord of the Rings. It bothered me at first but once I got over it, I had a good time.  At 2 hours and 8 minutes, Mortal Engines was a little lengthy. They could have tightened it by 25 minutes and that would have been fine with me. There were definitely places where things dragged and wandered off.

So is Mortal Engines worth watching?  Yes. It’s a good time. It’s flawed but the sheer originality of the premise and the gorgeous execution of this vision more than make up for it.  I definitely liked it better than the Maze Runner movies, which might be the closest thing to compare it to.  Judging from the reviews and box office results, I can only hope that Mortal Engines becomes a cult film.  It certainly deserves more love than it got.

Rating: [star rating=”3.5″]