Mortal Engines divides critics in first reviews

Dan Seddon
Photo credit: YouTube

From Digital Spy

The first reviews for the Peter Jackson-produced Mortal Engines have cruised online.

Starring Misfits actor Robert Sheehan, Hera Hilmar and frequent Jackson collaborator Hugo Weaving, Mortal Engines is a steampunk-tinged adaptation of Philip Reeve's 2001 novel. It follows the exploits of Hester Shaw, a mysterious rogue caught up in a post-apocalypse where cities ride on wheels.

Photo credit: Frazer Harrison / Staff - Getty Images

However, does this motor have enough fuel to inspire critics? Check out their thoughts below.

The Hollywood Reporter

"In short, it's a long-arc revenge tale fitted out with very elaborate effects, courtesy of Weta Digital, and characters that are moderately decent company but hardly compelling. The latter can even be applied to Weaving's villain, who has manifestly done very bad things but lacks the grand and demented qualities one normally looks for in a sci-fi villain.

"This new effort by Peter Jackson's Wingnut Films is certainly lavish and expensive-looking but never thoroughly locks in to capture the imagination or sweep you off to a new world where you particularly want to spend time".

Entertainment Weekly

"Mortal Engines looks like it cost a billion bucks. If only as much originality had gone into its beats-by-Joseph Campbell narrative as its Baron Munchausen-for-teens set design. The actors, apart from the always-dependable Weaving, don’t add much screen presence to their hand-me-down roles. It’s also an oppressively busy film with a drums-of-war score that won’t be happy until it cudgels you into submission".

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The Wrap

"The story of Mortal Engines isn't nearly as original as its surroundings. Tom and Hester snipe at each other until they come to a mutual respect, and then eventually something more. Their journey leads them through recognisable sci-fi/fantasy tropes, like getting kidnapped and sold to the highest bidder, and dealing with seemingly evil outlaws who turn out to be humanity's last hope.

"Underneath all this steampunk wonderment, you'll find the blueprints for The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, cut into pieces and reassembled in slightly different ways".


"For all its flashy digital scene-setting, Mortal Engines is rarely capable of staging impactful sequences within that scenery, and [its] attempts to draw broad parallels to Brexit and Trump's family separation policy fall quite flat. After cribbing from Mad Max, Howls Moving Castle, BioShock Infinite and The Terminator throughout, the film finally throws up its hands and goes full Star Wars for its desultory finale.

"The film never captures the bonkers, go-for-broke energy that made the ill-fated likes of Cloud Atlas or Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets such enjoyable noble failures, too caught up in hitting the same old blockbuster beats to stop and wonder where the story's weirder threads might have lead".

Den of Geek

"It takes some dedication to push a project through almost a decade of development hell, and it's clear that Jackson is absolutely in love with the world of Mortal Engines, but that is the film's ultimate undoing. The film covers almost every plot point, location, and sub-story from the original book, but in its rush to cram everything in, it forgets to extract some sort of narrative value from any of it".

Photo credit: YouTube

So basically, there's room for improvement.

Mortal Engines is due for release on December 8 in the UK and December 14 in the US.

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