MORTAL ENGINES (2018), based on the novel by Philip Reeve, rolls out like a Mad Max movie for the YA crowd. The film adaptation is fairly derivative of other films, but overall it worked for me. After reading bad reviews, I went into it with low expectations and had fun with it, hoping for another READY PLAYER ONE and getting something much tighter and emotionally engaging.
Hundreds of years after a fantastic weapon called Medusa destroyed civilization, the last cities are equipped with engines and treads and roam the earth competing for the last resources. This Darwinistic game is coming to a close as the big cities have gobbled up the smaller ones. To survive, London has come to mainland Europe in search of fresh hunting grounds.
When London devours a small mining town, Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar) boards the city and attempts to kill Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo Weaving at his Hugo Weaving best), an archaeologist working on a secret project involving old tech. After historian Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan) stops the assassination, he ends up stranded with her and learning about her past and reasons for wanting to stop Valentine, resulting in him joining forces with her.
I understand the movie is very different than the books, but it worked for me. The world building is pretty incredible, the action sequences are put together well, and the characters, while fairly lightly developed, are nonetheless engaging. Shrike, the last of the Lazarus Men, is actually more emotionally engaging than all the rest put together, he’s a great addition to the film. There were plenty of obvious jokes that fell flat for me (like statues of Minions being confused in a museum as ancient deities, and our current time being called the Screen Age), everything rolls out pretty much how you’d expect, it’s got a real YA bent, and it’s pretty derivative even for mainstream Hollywood, but in the end I didn’t care, I just enjoyed it for what it is. Overall, a B+ watch for me.