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.