Scale is impressive in a movie, if there is substance to back it. So when Peter Jackson decided to produce ‘Mortal Engines’, a film that is based on the books by the same name, you know it will be on a big scale and there will be enough substance to back it. However, that is not the case here at all. While the concept is unique and the first few minutes are quite entertaining as you discover just how the cities evolved to run on steam engines, the film starts to lag when the other characters are slowly introduced.
Given that the books have their own Universe, debutant director Christian Silver has tried hard to explain that and balance it with the stories of the characters. Alas, he could have done a much better job. Instead of trying to find balance, the filmmaker could have stuck with the spirit of the book, which already has a legion of fans.
Another thing working against the film is the fact that, while you’re dazzled by the stunning visual effects, you don’t really connect with the characters. Hugo Weaving as Thaddeus Valentine isn’t half as scary as a villain. Hera Hilmar as Hester Shaw, who daringly takes on the mission to kill Valentine, is also not enough of a bad ass when it comes to battling it out. Shrike (Stephen Lang), the undead robot, is more funny than scary as he chases Hester like a clueless zombie. The only character that shows any promise, Jihae as Anna Fang who leads a resistance group, is not as much a part of the action.
Considering there are four books in the series, there is obviously ample scope for a sequel. For the sake of the viewers, we hope the writers spend a lot of time on adapting it for the screen, because the screenplay was one of the weakest points in this one. From the team that brought us Lord of the Rings, the viewers will always hope for something incredible. We hope Jackson and company don’t disappoint in the next one.