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Mortal EnginesMovie Review:It Is Far Better Than Some Reviews Suggest

Mortal Engines

Starring  Hera Hilmar, Robert Sheehan, Hugo Weaving

Directed by Christian Rivers

Rating: ***(3 stars)

 True confession. I am really not into comicbook spectacles. The more ‘epic’ they are the more they  bore me. I  forced myself  to see Mortal Engines because the other option was to watch the horror show  about some possessed girl named  Hannah Grace.

I saw  more grace in  young Hera Hilmar  in Mortal Engines who plays a scarred  but never scared fugitive on the run from life and its harsh realities.And where better  to hide than in this  cataclysmic  take on  post-apocalyptic cities now on wheels  mowing down the smaller cities.

There is  a lesson in capitalistic  bullying here. And this  could be the world Donald  Trump may bequeath to coming generations of  First World gobblers.

I enjoyed  Mortal Engines as a  metaphor on  power struggle. There  is no irony in the futuristic world where London becomes movable property.It is the film’s exquisitely laid-out  landscape of a bleak yet brilliant apocalypse where 21st century  technology has now become priceless treasures  for recycling life …well, life as seen through the prison-like  prism of selfdestructive narcissistic  self-renewal.

Imagine London, yes all of it, on giant wheels  looting and plundering smaller mobile townships. This  is a game  of oneupmanship brought to a state  of disambiguous dynamism by a populace that thrives on generating  nullity for self-validation.

The vigorous narrative pitchforks  mesmeric images visuals  and frames  of cavernous spaces  swallowing civilization in bloodless aggression.

And yet Mortal Engines  is not a violent film. Not in the  other selfstyled epics equating plunder with heroics like Padmaavat or Logan, were.  This is a world  wrapped in a cadaverous quaintness, everything is dying . Civilization is on  the verge  of extinction. And to hold one man the villainous Hugo Weaving,responsible  for this  widescale plunder! Well, that’s the way of the world as seen by the men and women who  relentlessly create post-apocalyptic  cinema  for a ruin-obsessed cinema audience.

 This one is different, it is gentler , calmer. Simon Raby’s  cinematography is flush with  funds of  eyecatching colours , yet not  overpowering  in its pursuance  of a flamboyant  trajectory.The background music(Junkie XL) is  almost elegiac . It doesn’t pound into your brain and tear  into your soul. It just does what it  is meant to: create suggestions of emotions to support the drama.

Drama,there is  in plenty. Though none of it is superfluously  opulent. The imagination soars but  never so high as to lose altitude.The  characters remain  steadily  engrossing , even the  incidental ones  such as the  jaded  couple  who take in our young romantic leads and then hands them over for a slave auction  which is followed by  a daredevilish rescue gambit by an exotic Far Eastern assassin named Anna Fang.

Fang is  so esoteric she exhales an otherworldly  oomph.

Nothing in Mortal Engines surprises. And that  is the biggest surprise  of all.

  I’ve to confess I  was more  moved by the relationship between Hester(Hera Hilmar) and her robot-guardian  Shrike(Stephen Lang) who  is exterminated  the minute he hears Hester has fallen in love, than I was  by the central romance that grows while the lead pair  grapples with peril of a high order. There is  a kind of tragic grandeur to that undefined passion shared with the rebooted  robot  than to the bland relationship that grows between Hester and her travelling companion Tom(Robert Sheehan) as the two dodge  bullets  but never the clichés of the apocalyptic  spectacle .What would we do without heroes in the future ? We don’t have any in the  present.

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