Well, it was bound to happen eventually I guess. Between weather and not much else to do, I finally succumbed to streaming half my weekend away. However, considering I made it through two weeks of socially distancing before parking my butt on the couch for a large chunk of time, I’m not going to lose much sleep over it.
It was a real “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” sort of thing too. My daughter and I have been working our way through Star Wars Rebels and really enjoying it. Lots of fun stuff, new characters, and also weaving in some heavy stuff as well without it being overwhelming. We just finished the second season and I love it.
Mortal Engines though… not so much.
When I saw the trailer for this one awhile back, I remember thinking that it looked kind of cool and weird and that there wasn’t much chance I was seeing it in the theater. I read that it was based on a YA series, so maybe that was what did it, I don’t know. Ever since then, I’ve been studiously avoiding it… until this Saturday.
First off, let’s go with the positives shall we? The flick looks good – not great, but good. The effects are solid and I felt the style they chose worked for the story. Hugo Weaving, as always, delivers.
And that’s about it.
What makes this a tough watch is that the characters have zero humanity to them. In fact, there’s one character who is dead guy who’s been transferred into a metal body and he’s completely indistinguishable from the humans. The characters don’t do things, things happen around them as if they’re animated extensions of the set. Not only did I not care about any of them, a couple of characters who are fairly important to the climax disappear for half the movie and I barely noticed.
I think a lot of this is due to the book to movie translation, which didn’t go well here. Cities eating cities? Sounds cool! Only happens once at the beginning of the flick and then we’re on to something else. Creating a new weapon from some “ancient tech”? Sounds cool! Never really explained in any satisfactory way. I mean, somehow these folks have created a giant mobile city and flying machines, but they have to dig around for rusty old parts to create the Big Scary Weapon That Must Be Stopped?
Again, this is why translating from book to movie is a delicate thing and not one that should happen with every book or series. From what I’ve, the writers grabbed details from other books to supplement the characters here. Far be it for me to smash Peter Jackson & Co. because they’ve got a lot more scripts and summer homes to their credit than I do, but I’d submit that this is a dumb practice in almost every case. If the book could stand on its own, then why not a movie from the book?
Then again, I’ve never read the books and probably never will. Hell, it took damn near two years for me to watch this flick. However, for all you budding screenwriters out there, I think the message is pretty clear here – if you’re going to have city-on-city violence, you’ve got to save it for the end.