Oh boy where do I start? Okay short history: 11 year old me was given two new books to read, one of them was Mortal Engines. I have always felt this series deserves a film adaptation and I can’t describe my feelings when it finally happened. So, 17 years of hype and dreaming of what it could be, has Peter Jackson managed to deliver and do justice to this YA novel?
The premise of Mortal Engines is simple - nuclear war destroys the world as we know it. On a blighted Earth, cities rebuild themselves...on wheels. The western world mobilises their cities and start hunting each other across the Great Hunting Ground while the eastern world builds a huge wall and lives in relative peace and tranquility. But the actual human story is that of two teenagers, Tom Natsworthy and Hester Shaw.
Hester is on a mission of revenge and Tom gets dragged into it through his desire to be something more than just a historian, which is actually better than his motivation in the book which came off as more hero-worship than anything.
Did I say book? Yes, something which the film uses as a base and honestly does a decent enough job of condensing the story. But as with all adaptations, things change. I won’t go into detail here since I don’t want to spoil a good film for those who might want to watch it. These changes make sense but do have a knock on effect for any sequels that may be in the pipeline.
The biggest change is the ending. In the book it’s a much quieter affair that’s spread across a lot of different viewpoints. The film ignores some and just gives us the main characters, which also keeps two characters alive when they died in the book.
That’s all I can really say without spoiling it all. It’s a fun adventure set in the future.
Now onto the actual characters...I’m only going to pick on a few here:
Tom: Oh poor Tom. He’s so out of his depth but he tries his best. He’s probably one of the closest to his character in the book.
Hester: Appropriately grumpy and annoyed at everything but this ice queen defrosts much faster than her book counterpart. Also, her physical appearance is not as horrific as it should be. She’s got the same issue as Tyrion in Game of Thrones it seems.
Valentine: Magnificent bastard
Anna Fang: Badass
Shrike: Oh he broke my heart. Shrike is a terrifying cyborg with a heartbreaking backstory. I like film Shrike more than his book version.
So, did this film manage to hit the points it needed to? Yes I think it did. I’m still not sure if I want sequels or not but as it stands, Mortal Engines is worth a watch.