Making the Mortal Engines Movie

News, views, quotes and trivia about Philip Reeve's 'Mortal Engines' books and the Peter Jackson movie production.


Friday, June 30, 2017

Sophie Cox is playing Clytie Potts in the Mortal Engines movie

clytie potts mortal engines
While IMDB is hardly the pinnacle of being a rock solid source of news, it is suggesting that Australian actress Sophie Cox is playing Clytie Potts in the Mortal Engines movie.

The character of Clytie is a Historian on board the city of London.

Tom Natsworthy and Herbert Melliphant have a childish fight in front of her during London's successful capture of a smaller city.

It's a small role however a key one as spoiler alert:

Clytie survives the Medusa explosion and plays a larger role in the fourth novel of the Predator Cities series, A Darkling Plain.

Follow Sophie on Twitter.

What is the best order to read the Mortal Engines novels?

What Star Wars film did you see first?

Was it The Phantom Menace or A New Hope?

For the many it was Star Wars IV, V and IV in that order and then years later the prequels came out and we learned how Anakin became Darth Vader.

If you watch the prequels first you miss out on the epic twist that happens in Empire Strikes Back when you learn of Luke's true parentage.

And that's the issue with the reading order of the 7 Mortal Engine novels.

We are talking about Stalker Shrike here and a couple of other plot point surprises.

If you read the prequel series you get the full story of Shrike and how he came to be the Shrike. As you read on to the original novels, there's no big mystery, no awe as you first encounter him with Tom, knives out wanting to do nothing but kill....HESTEERRR SHAWWWWW!

But if you've read the prequels, you know exactly who this abomination is before he even takes his first step towards Tom and that kind of ruins the mystique.

Think of the first time you saw the Star Wars scene when Vader boards the Tantive IV (Leia's ship). If you knew him as the whiny pod racing kid from The Phantom Menace, the effect of his entrance would not have been the same.

But, just as there is with Star Wars, there's a kind of cheat you can do which is similar to the popular Machete Order that some Star War fans recommend.

In terms of Star Wars, it's often suggested that you watch A New Hope and then Empire so that you can enjoy the twist. You can then read the prequels and get the full back story, and then hop back to Return of the Jedi and go from there.

And so you can with Mortal Engines.

Read that first novel first so that you get the main story, exposure to the concepts such as Municipal Darwinism and that you meet the Shrike.

You can then turn the pages of the prequels starting with Reeve's Fever Crumb and then on to A Web of Air and the most excellent Scrivener's Moon.

Once you've knocked those bastards off, you can read the three books that follow Mortal Engines. And they are damn good reads with A Darkling Plain proving an excellent and satisfying end to the saga.

But what do we know?

What is Philip Reeve's take on the reading order of his own novels?

He's actually been asked this before and he's on record as saying:

"It’s up to you, of course, but I’ve always thought they’re best read in the order they were written."

And despite what we have suggested, that's not a bad way to go.

Here's why.

The thing about Peter Reeve is he became a better author as he went on with the Mortal Engines series. As he progressed from one book to the next his stories seemed to flow better and form a more cognizant whole. I personally enjoyed the the last two novels compared to the first. That said, those novels were 'standing on the shoulders of giants'.

But Reeve's also gives a hint of caution about the prequels:

"It’s a different setting in many ways – there are, for instance, no airships and no mobile cities.

I think the books have a slightly different tone, too – the heroes of the Mortal Engines quartet are always zooming across continents and oceans, but Fever Crumb’s adventures all take place in London or in the island city of Mayda, until Scrivener’s Moon, when Municipal Darwinism finally begins to take off and there is a certain amount of charging about on ramshackle motorised fortresses."

The choice, dear reader, is clearly yours.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Steven Lang confirmed as playing 'Shrike' for Mortal Engines

Stephen Lang Mortal Engines

It's been pretty much an open secret around town in Wellington but Steven Lang has been publicly confirmed as playing Shrike.

Lang is arguably most well known for playing Colonel Miles Quaritch in Avatar but his recent turn as Waldo in The Bad Lands has been pretty well received.

Here's Lang's announcement of his role via Twitter:

Given that Avatar was filmed in NZ in under Jim Cameron's eye in Peter Jackson's playground of Miramar, Lang would have been well acquainted with Jackson and company so when looking for someone who could convincingly play the 'bad guy' role of Shrike, they would have known Lang to be a good fit.

We were quite pleased when earlier this month Mortal Engines author Philip Reeve confirmed that the character was called Shrike and not Grike as is used in the American publications of the Predator Cities Quartet.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

An account of an audition for Mortal Engines as an extra

Here's an amusing look at one Wellingtonian's description of how his audition was for the Mortal Engines movie as an extra.

Sounds pretty standard!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Does the title 'Mortal Engines' really refer to William Shakespeare?

What is the meaning of 'Mortal Engines' title?

What is the meaning of 'Mortal Engines' title and its Shakespeare reference?

The title of the book by Philip Reeve and movie produced by Peter Jackson is indeed a quotation borrowed from William Shakespeare's 'Othello'.

Yes, Philip Reeve is referencing the Great Bard himself.

The full quote from Act III, scene iii is said by Othello himself:

"And O you mortal engines whose rude throats / Th'immortal Jove's dread clamors counterfeit..."

Reeve uses this phrases a commentary on the book's concept of 'Municipal Darwinism'.

Municipal Darwinism is the technological ecosystem by which most of the world of Mortal Engines works. While Shakespeare is referring to humans as being mortal engines, Reeve's turns the two words on the head of what Shakespeare meant.

The larger predator cities consume smaller cities for their resources. Physical resources are used for fuel or re-utilised. Humans living on the captured cities can be enslaved or eaten.

It's basically a play on Charles Darwin's survival of the fittest concept from his natural selection theory.

The main theory of Municipal Darwinism is a predator and prey cycle; if the bigger town is faster than the smaller, the smaller town will be eaten.

But if the smaller town is faster than the bigger town, the bigger town risks running out of fuel and thus losing it's prey or even facing attack itself in a reversal of fortune.

While in the context of the book's universe this form of Darwinism has existed for 1000s of years since the 'Sixty Minute war', it's a zero sum game which refers to the fact that the society that engages of Municipal Darwinism is not actually a sustainable means of living.

All the cities' engines are indeed mortal as eventually there will be nothing left to consume and they will fail and die.

Readers familiar with Reeve's work will know that he's a bit of a literary magpie and nicks the odd line from a song here and there or a book or line from a classic play to liven up his books. He does it really well - so well we suspect that a lot of the younger readers he has will miss many things he does!

Extra for Experts: Reeve's played a similar naming trick with the 'A Darkling Plain' sequel. Those words are taken from a poem called Dover Beach.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

We have a hunch Jihae is singing the Mortal Engines theme song

I had an idle thought while listening to some Jihae (as you do when you know she's playing Anna Fang in Mortal Engines) that she should probably do a theme song for Mortal Engines as most Peter Jackson productions seem to tack on a song in the credits - one or two may have even won Oscars!

So I posted this thought on twitter:

Notice anything?

That's right Jihae herself liked it. Well, if she's managing the account herself she did.

Either way, is this a subtle confirmation that yes, Jihae is involved in some capacity on the soundtrack?

It really should be a no brainer - Anna Fang is going to be a HUGELY POPULAR character as along with Hester, she's a bit of a book readers fan favorite, so why not have the actress who is already an accomplished singer, belt out a tune?

And this gets us wondering - who is composing the music for the movie? An old favourite of Peter's or someone new?

So who do I collect on my bet with?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Imagine Stalker Anna Fang singing this Leonard Cohen cover!

Here's stalker Anna Fang singer Jihae offering her version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah:

Imagine Anna Fang merrily singing that as she as she flies the Jenny Hanniver!

Even though this next video is an add for some beauty product, it gives you a real idea into what makes Jihae tick, and I can sure see why she was cast as the tough Anna Fang for Mortal Engines.

What was the Sixty Minute War in Mortal Engines?

sixty minute war mortal engines

What was the Sixty Minute War?

The Sixty Minute War was a global battle that took place hundreds or thousands of years before the events of the Mortal Engines Quartet and the Fever Crumb Series.

The 60 minute name conveys that the war took only an hour to begin and end - this was due to the speed and efficiency of the weapons of mass destruction used.

This is because of the way nuclear war scenarios work.

Say Country A decides to wipe out Country B. B can detect the launch of A.

They have time to understand that even though their country is about to be wiped out, they can get their own bloody revenge on Country A.

So they will launch their their own missiles at Country A ensuring that it is destroyed too. This is called mutual self destruction.

While the Soviet Union played brinkmanship games with the US (think the Cuban Missile Crisis) no country has crossed the line as they know there's a large chance that they will lose everything themselves (Hiroshima and Nagasaki aside as only the US had such weapons at the time).

So in the book and movie of Mortal Engines, there was of course a 'cold war' between various nations that directly led to the war's start. The mutual self destruction concept played out and when the first strike was launched, the other nations responded in kind.

And once the arms were deployed, some from the land, some from orbiting satellites in space and may be the odd submarine, the so called 'war' was over and done with in an hour.

This was the classic doom's day scenario leading to a desolate Earth where most of humanity was destroyed.

Two of the weapons were known as the MEDUSA, which features in the first novel and the second, ODIN, is first featured in the third novel of the Predator Cities Quartet, Infernal Devices.

The ODIN weapon was used by Stalker Anna Fang in A Darkling Plain to great effect when she went on a rampage and destroyed all in her path.

The original novel also noted at page 7 that 'tailored virus bombs' were also used. We can only imagine the horror that those weapons delivered.

If you think this concept from Philip Reeve's book was interesting, check out his theory of municipal darwinism.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Who is running

As far as I can tell, this wee site,, is proudly the only website out there in the big land of the internet that's focused on the forth coming Peter Jackson produced Mortal Engines movie.

We are not party to the movie in any capacity but we did attended every street parade in Wellington for the premiere of each LOTR movie so we're good there...

There's certainly no formal or official online presence other than author Philip Reeve's personal site and some guff to sell his wonderful books.


If you do a 'Who Is' look up on you'll see the URL Registrant Contact Information is that of Universal City Studios.

Who are they you might ask?

They are normally referred to as Universal Pictures and they are one of the production companies associated with the movie!

So, we imagine that soon enough, the official movie site will be rolled out across The Hunting Plain with this URL.

Before the trailer? We have no idea when that's happening

Friday, June 9, 2017

Want to earn 2 hundy a day on the set of Mortal Engines?

The hunt is still on for extras to be in Mortal Engines.

Straight from the Trade Me website, here's your chance to be famous .....





A large number of background Extras for filming June - July this year in MIRAMAR, WELLINGTON






Successful applicants may be required for anything from 1- 12 days over the next two months.
The working day is 12 hours and may include overtime.
The day rate before overtime is $200


This Extras Casting Call is open to anyone who falls within the application requirements above.

*Please note that this is an application process and not an offer of work.

Applicants for this position should have NZ residency or a valid NZ work visa.


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Incredible Hester Shaw cosplay with full face make up and prosthetics

Full scar effects Hester Shaw cosplay

Check out this amazing Hester Shaw cosplay from Mortal Engines.

Using movie quality prosthetics, a truly horrific version of Hester has been created.

What imagination by the make up artist, Anna Langham.

One wonders if Christian Rivers is prepared to be as bold as this effort with his movie production. We suspect the on screen Hester's scarring will be toned down from this amazing look!

Here's the description of Hester's face from the book:

"A terrible 23 scar ran down her face from forehead to jaw, making it look like a portrait that had been furiously crossed out. Her mouth was wrenched sideways in a permanent sneer, her nose was a smashed stump and her single eye stared at him out of the wreckage, as grey and chill as a winter sea."

Not a bad effort re-creating that eh?

The make up designer Anna Langham who achieved this work wrote of her design on Instagram:

"This entire look was sculpted by myself and covers from forehead to chin eyebrows are pieces weaved and stuck with Snappy G glue. The scar runs from forehead to jaw and therefore the nose, left eye and mouth had to be recreated. I absolutely LOVED Prosthetics @bathacademyofmediamakeup and it is something I wish to continue working in for a very long time.

 I painted the piece using light washes of silicone paint and illustrator palettes and worked hard and created a realistic and natural skin texture and colour which would match Tegan's neck and normal skin tone. "

full face make up hester shaw cosplay

Anna also noted that:

"My full face Prosthetic modelled by the wonderful Tegan. I worked for 2.5 weeks on this piece. It is inspired by my favourite book character #hestershaw from #mortalengines. I have been dreaming to design and create a look for her ever since the age of 7 and this is my hand crafted Hester scar."

We suspect Anna has a fine career as a make up artist ahead of her!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Philip Reeve confirms Shrike is called Shrike and NOT Grike in the movie!

You may have read an article we wrote a few weeks ago that considered the name of Shrike from Mortal Engines and why it was changed to Grike for the American publications of the Predator Cities Quartet.

We also pondered if the movie production would go with Grike or Shrike.

Well wonder no longer! The author of Mortal Engines Mr Philip Reeve recently came to NZ to have a look at the filming of the movie (and do a cameo part!) and he got to have a play on set and today he posted this on his Twitter account:

shrike vfx head box

It appears to be the box which Shrike's head is kept in! Which also means Shrike is named Shrike and not Grike! Not word yet on who is playing the green eyed killer!

It also means American readers may get horribly confused when they first see the movie as they are quite likely to believe the abomination that Kit Solent became is called Grike with a solid G!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Frederick Hama cast in Mortal Engines

freddy hama mortal engines.
Kiwi actor living across the ditch in Sydney as announced he's been cast in Mortal Engines:

Hama hasn't given too many details other than he's been booked for three weeks work and this will be his first trip home in 17 years! Hama is a graduate of the Wellington based acting school, Toi Whakaari: New Zealand Drama School so in a sense, he's finally come full circle to film in Wellington.

His IMDB page shows he's had limited screen time but a notable gig on The Navigator.

Congratulations Frederick, sit back and have a well deserved home brew.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

What time dating system does Mortal Engines universe use ?

the whale skeleton in the library of london city

The time frame in which Mortal Engines covers is known as the Traction Era.

Time was measured in years since the first traction cities got rolling.

So time is measured in Traction Era (TE) years.

To my reading, this is not exactly explicitly referenced in the Mortal Engines series itself.  

For some context, municipal darwinism began at the same time the Traction Era began and we know that at page 9 of ME that this form of Darwinism has existed for a 1000 years.

But we must of course consider the timings around what caused the Traction Era to begin.

Mortal Engines is set in a post-apocalyptic world, ravaged by the so called "Sixty Minute War", which caused massive geological upheaval and the destruction of humanity. The war resulted in the subsequent struggle of restoring civilization and technology and reclaiming that element of lost humanity.

We know that the whale that hangs in Tom's Museum on London City was extinct for thousands of years. We only assume this happened before the Sixty Minute War began.

Phillip Reeve’s ‘The Traction Codex’ gives us some insight into the time line.

“After the Ancients destroyed themselves in the Sixty Minute War, there were several thousand years in which nothing much happened. These were the Black Centuries. The great civilizations of the Screen Age had been utterly swept away, and humanity was reduced to a few scattered bands of savages’