Making the Mortal Engines Movie

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

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Monday, August 28, 2017

Peter Jackson with the Mortal Engines second unit crew

Here's a nice picture of Mortal Engines film producer Peter Jackson with the 2nd unit film crew:

second unit group photo from Mortal Engines

The group probably features some of these people listed as being with the second unit on IMBD:

Harry Ashby...third assistant director
Sarah Bicknell...second unit: Second Assistant Director
Del Chatterton...DPR/Radio PA
Carolynne Cunningham...first assistant director
Ant Davies...on set / second second assistant director
Bruno Du Bois...key second assistant director
Simon English...third assistant director

'I see London' - Calum Gillie's drawing of London Traction City is simply wonderful

London City drawing by Callum Gillies
Here's a wonderful drawing of London City that I found on reddit by artist Calum Gillies.
Calum's fantastic drawing can actually be purchased as a print from his website. We strongly suggest you check it out as he has produced some pretty awesome Mortal Engines artwork.

You can also follow Calum's work on his Facebook page - there's some pretty cool video footage which shows just how much effort goes into doing this kind of work.

London city sketch by Jake Davies

Simple but awesome sketch of London by Jake Davies, inspired by his reading of Mortal Engines to his daughter.

sketch of London Traction City

It's a nice contrast to this version of London!

London's Lower Tier Concept Art

Here's some more of London City by our new favourite concept designer, Jack Reeves.

He said of his work  "Massively unfinished but after a bunch of versions its starting to irritate me so leaving it here for now. Carrying on with mortal engines with the lower tier of the city!"

london city concept art mortal engines


Thursday, August 24, 2017

What does Stanisław Lem have to do with Mortal Engines?

stanislem law's book mortal engines
When I was searching for information about Philip Reeve's novel Mortal Engines, I kept coming across a book of the same name by Stannislaw Lem.

I generally ignored it until the other night I was thinking about the Steven Soderbergh, film version of Solaris and I realised that the author of the book that the movie was inspired by, was the same as the other Mortal Engines book.

It turns out that Lem's book Mortal Engines is a collection of his works that is also known as Fables for Robots.

The context of the stories is the the fables are from the point of view of a universe populated by robots.

And there in gives rise to the book title and the use of the word's from Shakespeare's Othello from which Reeve was inspired to use for his first novel:

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

Law's book title uses a double meaning in the context the engines are literally the robots and describing the finite nature of humans of whom the tales are told - much the same how Reeve's also uses the double meaning of the mortality of humans and the giant traction engines cities.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

10 questions about the Mortal Engines film...


Just some random questions about what may happen in the Mortal Engines film...
  1. Will Anna Fang have red teeth?
  2. Will 'The Turd Tanks' chapter be covered in great detail?
  3. Will Katherine Valentine's wolf Dog feature?
  4. How toned down will the look of Hester Shaw's facial scarring be? Will she be blind in one eye?
  5. How bad will Valentine's beard be? 
  6. Will there be a flash back to the 60 Minute War? (We doubt it but would love to see it!)
  7. Will there be a post credits scene? (We reckon some Shrike lives action would be cool). 
  8. How will it set up the sequel? Will it at all? We think they should skip Predator's Gold and go straight to filming Infernal Devices... follow up question - is Sophie Cox signed up for any sequels given, you know what happens in A Darkling Plain?
  9. Will Hester be as brutal and willing to kill as the book portrays?
  10. Did Peter Jackson really steal a whale?
Concept art by Jack Reeves.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Jack Reeves' London City concept art is F.A.B.

mortal engines london city design

Designer Jack Reeves has made two most excellent versions of his vision of what the traction city of London could look like.

London Concept Design

We love how St Paul's looms large over the city. Movement is Life!

Follow Jack Reeve's on Instagram & he's got some wicked designs at his website.


Monday, August 21, 2017

Mortal Engines, a second time around review



I first bought and read the book after learning that Christian Rivers was directing Peter Jackson's production. Jackson was doing a sci-fi film, his first since District 9?

I was VERY curious.

At the news, I found myself deciding to make www.mortalenginesmovie.com  and here we are, having recently re-read the first Mortal Engines novel for the second time.

I thought I would share my experience.

So what of this second read?

Spoilers below. 

I found Philip Reeve's novel to be an even better read through than the first time (which I thought was pretty good!)

There are a few reasons for this.

The first is that I had a better appreciation of the plot and the direction it was headed. Having read the entire series I had a stronger understanding of what the traction era was really about. In the first read through I was along for the ride, turning page after page simply keen to see what going to happen to Tom and Hester (would the Shrike get them) but I did not stop to smell the roses.

A second read through allowed me to digest some of the finer points. I had greater appreciation for what Katherine Valentine was feeling in terms of her father's dastardly deeds, I felt I kind of understood what made Hester tick a little bit better and I saw Tom as less of a plodding school boy but more of the hero that Hester doesn't think he is.

I really enjoyed how some of the plot details were later used to set up or call back to the original book in the last novel, A Darkling Plain (review). Things that Clytie Potts and Chudleigh Pomery did and said worked quite well in the context of what they later get up to. Indeed, all the minor characters, good and bad prove, to be quite fun and serve to quietly drive plot points.

I enjoyed reading the references to the real world that Philip Reeves made. Brief mentions of Mickey Mouse and obscure references to old bands were a lot of fun!

I was also able to greatly enjoy Anna Fang's character and appreciate that her actions to look after Tom and Hester were not only in their own interest and that her killer streak that lurked below the surface and was only really hinted at was really the basis for what Stalker Anna Fang would become in Infernal Devices (review) and beyond.

In regards the movie, I have high hopes for the character of Anna Fang, especially with her sword fight with Thaddeus Valentine!

Finally, having learned that the title of the book was a reference to Shakespeare's Othello, I was able to enjoy the double meaning of the book even more given the various character deaths that happen.

I also found myself confirming a view I'd had for a while that Municipal Darwinism was fine in theory but in the context of the book's parameters, it should have died out thousands of years ago.

Verdict: A classic read that will stand the test of time for a fair while.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

My crazy theory about Peter Jackson stealing a whale

Bear with me, I have a theory.

A crazy theory.

It's so crazy you should just skip this post.

The wife and I took the kids to the Te Papa Museum at Wellington today and noticed that the blue whale that hangs from the ceiling was missing. I was a bit disappointed as it's really cool, even more impressive than the colossal squid they have as an attraction.

And then I moved on.

Later as the kids were having fluffies, this concept art popped into my head:


And I was like to my wife "Peter Jackson has stolen the whale to use in Mortal Engines!" My wife looked at me like I was some kind of loon and handed out some crackers to the kids.

Here are the facts:

Peter Jackson and Christian Rivers are making the Mortal Engines movie in Wellington.

They need a whale skeleton for the museum scene in Mortal Engines.

The whale is gone.

Read between the lines people!

THERE CAN BE NO OTHER PLAUSIBLE REASON FOR THE WHALE'S DISAPPEARANCE!

We note Te Papa refused to comment so this just confirms the conspiracy.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The ME costume department's motto was to "make it beautiful"!

A crew member from Mortal Engines posted a gift they were given from the Costume Department of the ME production. It shows the best yet look at the crew logo designs!

movement is life mortal engines

Note the phrase "movement is life" -  that's a real motto for the film if there was one. The Costume Department's moto appears to have been "Make it beautiful".

IMDB lists Bob Buck and Kate Hawley as being in charge of Costume Design.

Both designers  have done several tours of duty on New Zealand based productions & Peter Jackson related movies, most notably the Hobbit films.

Patrick Malahide confirmed as playing Magnus Chrome in Mortal Engines

patrick malahide magnus chrome mortal engines


Patrick Malahide has finally been confirmed as playing the Magnus Chrome, the Mayor of London Traction CityWell, at least according to IMDB.

We just love the name Magnus Chrome.

It rolls off the tongue so well and reminds us of Ultra Magnus from Transformers and also it somehow echoes the bad guy in Mad Max: Road Warrior, 'The Humungus'.

The character in Mortal Engines is pretty cool too.

Anyways, Malahide is a great choice for the part of Chrome as any Game of Thrones fans will know he can will be able to tap in the dark side of the mind required to portray Chrome.

Malahide is arguably most well known for playing Balon Greyjoy in in Game of Thrones but his recent turn in Bridget Jones's Baby really out him on the map! 

We jest, Patrick has had an extensive film and television career dating to back to 1976 and is very well known as a quality British actor. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Kee Chan's role as Governor of Batmunkh Gompa

Kee chan mortal engines with robbie sheehan

IMDB continues to report that  is playing "Governor Kwan" in Mortal Engines.

Readers of ME will recall that there's no such named character in the novel the movie is based on.

Or is there?

Tom and Hester actually do meet a Governor Ermee Khan, the Governor of Batmunkh Gompa.

Khan not Kwan.

Hidden behind the shield wall, Batmunkh Gompa is an anti-tractionist city and a would-be prize for Magnus Chrome and his city of London.

So if IMDB has the name wrong and even if it has been changed (but why?!) let's presume the Governor from the book, is in the movie.

Who, then is Kee Chan?

kee chan as male dee in star wars
Chan as Dee in ROTS
An Australian actor, he tends to have small roles in Hollywood productions that are filmed in Australia.

A classic example was his small part as a Sentator Malé-Dee in Revenge of the Sith or a wee turn as a chemist in Mission Impossible II. 

We presume that given Tom and Hester meet the Governor Khan in the novel, he will have a thing or two to say about the threat of the Medusa weapon!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Phillip Reeve's BBC interview on his Mortal Engines set visit


Mortal Engines writer and Dartmoor's favourite adopted-son, Mr Philip Reeve was interviewed by David Fitzgerald of the BBC about his recent Mortal Engines film set visit in Wellington New Zealand.

Claiming to be "just the writer" Reeve was full of praise for the actors who 'acted their socks off'.

Reeve explained to DJ David how it was very strange to see the movie sets inspired by a book that had he written.

Reeve noted that given he finished writing the several books many years ago so he was able mentally leave them behind so he didn't feel too much ownership of what he saw. 

He joked that the production crew were amused that they had never worked with a living author before as the 6 Lord of the Rings movies were written by Tolkien. This made me wonder what happened with The Lovely Bones author, Alice Sebold? Turns out she was a 'friendly bystander'.

When questioned whether New Zealand's amazing scenery would be featuring in the movie, Reeve explained that most of the exteriors were being created digitally. We imagine however that director Christian Rivers has surely sent out some production units to grab some mountains from somewhere....

The interview then turned to Reeve's more current book series that starts with Railhead and continues with Black Light Express, the inspiration for those novels (he found his attempt at a story on spaceships was boring) and that trains are actually good places for thinking on!

Reeve also talked about Hugo Weaving and Patrick Malahide being in the movie which Fitzgerald seemed quite surprised about.

The interview made us wonder whether Reeves had sold the filming rights to Railhead...

 Update: Here's a transcript some very keen person made.

What is the 'Traktionstadtsgesellschaft' in Mortal Engines?

 Traktionstadtsgesellschaft mortal engines

The Traktionstadtsgesellschaft is an collective of Germanic traction cities that are introduced in the fourth novel of the Mortal Engines series, in A Darkling Plain.

Originally, it was a collective of twelve German-speaking traction cities who joined together to resist the advance of the anti-tractionist army Green Storm who were intent on destroying all traction cities.

The battles that followed eventually led to a stalemate between each side. Cities who did not join the 'front lines' of Traktionstadtsgellschaft often sent money or supplies to help in the war effort, and also profited from selling the alliance weapons.

The cities entered into explicit agreement not to prey on each other until the war with the Green Storm was won however some less-ethical towns such as Wolf Kobold's Harrowbarrow continued hunting for prey as he thought the Traktionstadtsgesellschaft's deferral of Municipal Darwinism would lead to the small city losings its edge.

The Traktionstadtsgesellschaft grouping was effectively destroyed when the Stalker Anna Fang attacked and destroyed most of its bigger cities with the ODIN weapon which she had taken control of.

How does one pronounce the word 'Traktionstadtsgesellschaft'?

It's not easy to say if you break it down in the following way:

Traktion (Traction) Stadt (City) Gesellschaft (Society)

Artwork by Keak

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Leifur Sigurdarson is playing Nils Lindstrom

LEIFUR SIGURDARSON Nils Lindstrom Mortal Engines

IMDB suggests that Leifur Sigurdarson is playing the minor character of Nils Lindstrom in the Mortal Engines film.

Lindstrom is one of Captain Khora's pals and an associate of Anna Fang. He runs into some grief at the Gasbag and Gondola when the whole crew first encounter stalker Shrike.

This is Leifur Sigurdarson's first role in a movie. His agency is Kirsty Bunny Management. Wellington based, he's worked in policy roles with Government and will now have a chance to make a make on the Hollywood scene!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

How should the Mortal Engines film start?


We really hope that it begins as it does on the very first page of the original book. We know that Peter Jackson and Christian Rivers will no doubt change things up (Reeve's has actually confirmed this) but there is something magical about that first line of the novel:

"It was a dark, blustery afternoon in spring, and the city of London was chasing a small mining town cross the dried-out bed of the old North Sea."

It's become quite a famous first line. We recently learned that it was in part inspired by the George Orwell book, 1984.

What we really, really want though is for Stephen Lang to narrate the line over the actual scene as his character Shrike.

There's precedent for an opening narration as Cate Blanchett did one for The Fellowship of the Ring and practically the whole of The Lovely Bones was narrated by Saoirse Ronan.

The reason for the character of Shrike doing this would be to allow the movies to come full circle like they do in the novels.

Spoilers for those who haven't read a book that came out in 2006.

The fourth and final adventure in the Mortal Engines series is called A Darkling Plain. It is a grand tale of adventure which ends with the Shrike telling the tale of life. He begins the tale by reciting the first line of the original novel. It's a nice literary twist in the tale and a touching moment that draws the story to an emotional close.

It would be amazing to think that if the Mortal Engines film series is able to get to 4 films (17 if we know Jackson) that it finishes in a similar vein.

Joel Tobeck is playing the Bürgermeister, a mayor of a city


Tobeck is apparently playing a 'Bürgermeister'


IMDB is continuing to suggest that Kiwi actor Joel Tobeck is playing the role of a Bürgermeister in the Mortal Engines movie.

In the novel, the word Bürgermeister is not explicitly mentioned but in the German language it effectively means 'Mayor' and there's a fair few mayors in charge of traction cities in the book eh?

This makes sense as the Mortal Engines novels eventually get to the point in A Darkling Plain where we meet whole cities of Germanic ancestry who collectively formed the Traktionstadtsgesellschaft. This grouping fought the Green Storm.
Tobeck as Ord Guritz in Return of the King

This role is a chance of a life time for Tobeck as it is going to be a big movie an arguably the biggest part of his career.

A well established Kiwi actor with a fine list of TV and film credits behind him, Tobeck has worked on a Peter Jackson production before as both as a featured orc called Guritz and soldier in the Return of the King.