So what did you think of the technology in Mortal Engines?
It has this Brazil feel to the technology, so very quirky, but the plot is American. You have these roving cities that go into combat with each other and eat smaller cities. Basically a city on the back of a tank, kind of juvenile mentality of possible futures. So even though the world has evolved into massive moving machines canvasing the world for spare parts and resources, they don't have nuclear weapons. I think its a fun concept of the future that is wildly unrealistic, but will resonate with gamers possibly. The whole premise of mobile cities makes no sense, but its fun as a concept.
Were there other types of cities in this world?
So above we see the London moving city, which has elements of the real British city with bobbies, landmarks and such from the real city of London. Besides London, there are smaller craft that ride in secret that look like Centipedes. Another city type was the air city and finally there were the land-bound cities behind a massive wall. The cities beyond the wall were all in a pseudo-China/India/Japan type of land.
Was this a script or based off a book?
When I first saw the movie, I assumed incorrectly that it was some sort of Chinese propaganda film to win over the West, which I think it fails at and comes off as such in the movie. In the books, this is the first of four books followed by 3 prequel books as well written by Phillip Reeve. The movie covers only the book 1 of the series, so there is the possibility of more movies, but I doubt they would do all 7 books, maybe 2 or 3 depending on the success of the movie. My guess is that it may only be a one book movie and that's all, but who knows maybe the book audience drives the sales strong.
What did you make of the three main characters?
So one of the main characters is Hester Shaw, who is hell bent on killing Mr. Smith, I mean Thaddeus Valentine, who killed her mother. Definitely, a strong motive to want to kill him. In the intial scene, she makes an attempt on his life and is prevented from success by Tom Natsworthy, a budding historian working in the London Museum. Then Valentine throws Tom off the ship to prevent the knowledge of Hester come into the public eye and throw a wrench in his plans. She is reluctantly banded together with Tom as the try to make it back to London through a series of adventures. One controversy was that her scar did not cross her entire face across an eye. I think for the movie they adapted the scar to be less prominent, so she retained some beauty, so she wasn't rejected right off the bat by the audience.
Thaddeus Valentine is the 2nd in command of the moving city of London, one of the larger dominating machine cities that usually eats its rivals. He is hell bent on figuring out a solution to the dwindling supplies to be found by eating smaller roving cities that have minimal supplies as well. He has found the ultimate weapon that will allow him to go beyond the wall that protects the last land cities now in Tibet basically. No moving city has beat the wall because of their immense guns and air ships to protect the wall as well.
Tom Natsworthy is the son of two historians, so he ends up being a historian as well after the untimely early death of his parents in one of the city battles. He always dreamed of flying, but switched to historian to suit the cities interests. He uncovers a plot by Valentine to use forbidden old tech to create a weapon beyond belief.
Do you think it's a propaganda film?
At first glance, I definitely thought it was some sort of Chinese based production company aiming to make the West look like crazy, passionate, war hungry outlook on life and the Chinese as the passive, just protecting our turf types. The movie definitely has this appearance off first glance, so likely will backfire a bit with the audience. If you read the books, you will see the characters traverse several continents, so no one continent is spared. Another funny quirk is the MEDUSA weapon has a kill switch that is USA separate. Kind of symbolically means the USA holds the kill switch to ending a global war with China.
Another kind of propaganda part was the mother of Hester is named Pandora. It is her discovery of old tech for a massive weapon in a box that is stolen or ie. pandora's box story. Again, a not so subtle reference to this story as well. I think in the book the connection is likely subtler, but comes off clunky in the film.
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