Just in case anyone was asking for a landlocked version of Waterworld, Mortal Engines released into theaters with the odd expectations that there was an audience for this film. A big-budget theatrical experience if ever there was one (shown in 3D, IMAX and the usual perks offered to those willing to watch it on the big screen), Mortal Engines has all of the pieces to make up a blockbuster, except one. There is an apocalyptic sci-fi storyline (which has proven successful in multiple franchises), action, humor, romance, and plenty of special effects. The only thing missing was audience interest.
Actually, that isn’t the only thing missing; it might have helped to have a story less derivative and characters that were more compelling. The basic premise feels like a hodgepodge of better films (even Waterworld), mostly offering a PG-13 version of Mad Max: Fury Road in which entire cities drive around instead. In this post-apocalyptic world, resources are limited, so of course it makes sense that fuel would be used to transport entire cities. Much of the film follows faulty logic like this, but it is diverting enough if all you care about is mindless action and steampunk costume design.
In this future, the great cities roam around, swallowing up the smaller ones for their resources. Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan) is a lowly cog in the city of
, until he
encounters a fugitive named Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar) as she attempts to take
down the evil dictator running the moving city. Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo
Weaving) is seen as a benevolent leader to most, which is why Tom becomes a
liability when he sees the leader’s true colors. Banished from the only home he
has ever known, Tom has no choice but to trust Hester, despite having just met
If you were to simply look at the design elements of the film, you might be mildly amused. This isn’t to say that even these aspects aren’t derivative, because many of them look directly lifted from a Hayao Miyazaki film, if not any of the other films previously mentioned. But original or not, the design elements are at least interesting to look at, while there is absolutely nothing compelling about the story or its characters. The predictable revenge tale is serviceable, but it is impossible to root for characters you don’t care about at all.
Because the look of the film is easily the best thing about it, the 4K release of Mortal Engines will definitely enhance the viewing experience for those still interested after my unimpressed response. There is a clear difference in the picture between this and even the Blu-ray disc (a copy of which is included in the package, along with a digital download code), and the audio is also noticeably enhanced. Additionally, both the Blu-ray and the 4K disc come with plenty of extras, starting with a 5-part behind-the-scenes featurette.
Entertainment Value: 7/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 6/10
Historical Significance: 3/10
Special Features: 6/10