Mortal Engines is one of those movies where the less you know about it, the more intrigued you are. It is also a movie where the more you found out about it, the more you hate it. First, I believed that this was a sci-fi movie until I discovered it was an adventure film. For months looking at the poster, I also believed the lead actress was Kate Beckinsale until I was proven otherwise again and my interest imploded. Just when I thought the Michael Bennett cameo was the last back-breaking straw, turns out that straw was the fact Mortal Engines is Hollywood’s latest attempt to revive the YA genre because that is exactly what we are all waiting for…more YA movies.
Mortal Engines is set in a post-apocalyptic future where apparently humans have nuked the entire planet and in response have created massive mobile cities that devour smaller mobile cities. Just like every other YA movie before it, the citizens are divided by class and the rich oppress the poor. The captain of the London ‘city’ Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo Weaving) in his quest for resources develops a weapon that will make him the most feared captain in the world. Standing in his way is a young woman named Hester, who believes that Valentine is responsible for the death of her mother. Things go belly up when Hester and her love interest are removed from the city and they must not only fend for themselves but prevent Valentine’s plan of a hostile takeover.
If you want to see all the good Mortal Engines has to offer, go into the theater, watch the first ten minutes, and then walk out because it doesn’t get any better after that. The film is impressive looking, for sure and with a 100 million budget, they clearly didn’t spare any expense. As far the story goes, the plot is unoriginal and uninteresting. You basically have a bad guy with a new and improved death star seeking world domination and your typical YA couple are the only ones that can stop them. I don’t know how much clearer I can put this, people are tired of YA movies. The days of The Hunger Games, Twilight, and Maze Runner are well over and no amount of expensive effects is going to change that.
The film is simply too bogged down its own mess. Too many characters to care about any of them. Too much explanation of how the world works to give anyone a reason to care about the central plot. Finally, when you are trying to be woke by drawing parallels to current politics in a film as mediocre as this one, your message comes off as uninspired as your young actors’ performance. Mortal Engines is the equivalent of drinking a can of Monster, you’ll feel amazing for 10 minutes and then crash…hard.