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Friday, November 24, 2017

"P. P. Bellman, author of atheistic pop-up books for the trendy toddler?"


I came across this extremely thoughtful review or consideration of Mortal Engines by Max at What Conspiracy? and felt I should share part of it.

After taking us thorough a quick tour of academic snobism (is that a word?), a pass over of Harry Potter and an examination of Phillip Pullman of Northern Lights fame, he solves the meaning of a line that amused me no end:

"Philip Bellman with his series of atheistic pop-up books for the underfives"

That's what Max wrote anyway.

The correct quote from Infernal Devices is "..and wasn’t that the great P. P. Bellman, author of atheistic pop- up books for the trendy toddler??"


Which itself is a reference to the novels of Pullman. His trilogy can been described as the antidote to the Christian beat that C.S. Lewis framed the Chronicles of Narnia with - hence the reference to atheism in Infernal Devices.

Indeed, Reeve has included many cultural references in his novels.

This paragraph is possibly the best description of Mortal Engines as a series that I've ever come across:

"Reeve is still a damn fine writer. Mortal Engines is set in a future where thousands of years of squabbling over the ruins of a war shattered earth has culminated in a stand off between mobile cities and stationary communities. 

Now the physics and logistics of such a vision don't bear serious examination for a second, but Reeve is able to write fast enough that a reader doesn't quibble. 

He's also able to write characters with enough appeal that you're far busier wondering what's going to happen to them than you are picking away at the sustainability of "Municipal Darwinism", the bonkers post-thatcherite philosophy which drives the traction cities in their quest to scavenge smaller cities and fight with bigger ones. 

A few weeks after I've finished reading the books, I'm coming around to the notion that once you dig into the logic of his books, he's essentially marketing the same dumb notion of sustainable pastoral nirvana as Tolkien did, but that doesn't stop me from admiring the books he's written while smoking that weed."

I'm pleased someone else had picked up on the notion that municipal darwinism was indeed bonkers as the environment in which Mortal Engines is set would have meant that every city would have been eaten up a thousand years ago. But why quibble when it's a great device on which to propel the story?

Max also captures the character and fan favourite Hester Shaw quite well and fully appreciates the role reversal that Reeve puts on her and Katherine Valentine:

"In conventional fiction, Hester would die early, delivering a plot lesson along the way and be replaced by someone cute. In Reeve's world, Hester lasts all the way through four books, and gets meaner and unhappier the further she goes. Her one saving grace is her love for Tom. Meanwhile the cute girl who he's been lined up with in conventional narrative terms gets shot to bits in the first book."

He also makes a key point about character death:

"Reeve is cavalier with characters. If they get in harm's way, they get killed. If Reeve has spent huge energy bringing them to life, that's just too bad. The third book begins with a perfect case in point. 

A character who's been painstakingly nursed through the second book returns in the third as a key mover and shaker. Just when you've decided that he's going to be the villain of the piece, he takes a bullet through the head in the course of a theft turned hostage taking which is so elegantly set up as a plausible bungle that I was rapt with admiration as a focal character is dragged off in a submarine with nothing to be done about it.

Snatching her was the last thing anyone wanted to do, and by a simple set of bad calls (the most important of which was Hester's entirely in-character decision to kill everyone in sight) becomes the only possible outcome. Marvellous stuff."

A very insightful review indeed!

Concept design of Airhaven from Mortal Engines book series by Eleth89


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Richard Armitage nearly had a Mortal Engines acting gig

richard armitage

In an interview with Den of Geek about his role in Ocean's Eight, Richard 'Oakenshield' Armitage noted that he almost had a part in Christian River's Mortal Engines.

He said:

"I was very close to working with Peter and Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh this year on Christian Rivers' latest movie, but I couldn't quite make it work, because of 'Berlin Station'.

And what is Berlin Station

It's the television show Armitage is starring in that features him as a CIA agent.

The three time The Hobbit actor also said:

"But I know that I'll work with them again in the future and I'll be back in New Zealand at some point, so 'The Hobbit' has left such a legacy with me, that it's sort of a little beating heart that I'll always be grateful for."

Which is all nice and polite eh?

We wonder what role he could have been up for? Shrike perhaps? Maybe even a perhaps older Tom Natsworthy? A smaller role?

Friday, November 3, 2017

Why is there no hype for the Mortal Engines movie?



All aboard the Mortal Engines hype train?


EDIT: The Mortal Engines trailer is finally out!

You might recall the day when Peter Jackson announced to the world that his new film project was a film called Mortal Engines based on a book of the same name.

This was kind of a big deal as when Mr Jackson speaks, the world listens.

And when Jackson released some concept art of Hester Shaw staring into the distance at a giant traction city the picture when around the world so fast.

And since then, nothing from the Oscar winner.

Sure, when the film wrapped up the crew let lose with a few insights (carefully permitted by the production, we're sure).

But other than that, the only person flying the flag that has a direct connection to the film, is Philip Reeve, the author of the book and the three prequels and three sequels! To be fair, Stephan Lang has chipped in a bit!

So why has there been no real hype for the movie to date?

Well, for a start the release date is not until December 2018. That's a whole other 14 odd months away. So given that Mortal Engines is a new movie "IP" (Intellectual Property) there's not already a built in fan base waiting another sequel such as they might for a new Avengers film or say The Last Jedi. 

Sure, there's a book fan base that's staunch and true but it just doesn't have the critical mass for the movie to be in the public consciousness such as Star Wars or Star Trek does.

So what Jackson and the producers and film distributors will likely do is sit back until next year (once both  The Last Jedi and Han Solo films have been and gone this December and next year!)  and patiently wait until the timing is right to release the first trailer.

That first trailer will be CRUCIAL because ME is a new IP. Purely by virtue of being a Peter Jackson produced film, that trailer will get a MASSIVE push and Jackson's name will be used a lot.

It will be the hook on which the whole movie will then be based on leading to what will likely be a huge budget film promotion.

But to make the trailer, the special effects need to be done. Keen observers might have noted that the entire movie appears to have been filmed in the sound stages that Jackson has built up in Mirimar, Wellington. I've seen no reports of any other filming around NZ. Sure there may be some second unit filming of some mountain passages across NZ (or recycled / unused captures from Hobbit and LOTR productions?) but given the nature of the film, no trailer is going to released until there's enough CGI effects in place for the trailer to be released.

Where as film franchises led by Marvel and DC often release teaser trailers to built hype, I suspect that given the need for the hook to truly snag movie goers, that a trailer of several minutes length will be released.

I'd be surprised if we heard even a peep from Christian Rivers or Peter Jackson until then. 

Until then, go give the book a second read!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Peter Jackson registered a company called 'Squeaky Wheels' in 2008!

mortal engines whale in the library

What is the production company "Squeaky Wheels"?


A short while ago we speculated that the filming or 'working' title of Mortal Engines was "Squeaky Wheels'. This was due to the email address used as part of the call for auditions.

You know how sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees?

Peter Jackson incorporated a company called 'Squeaky Wheels Limited' with the New Zealand Companies Office in 2008!

This kind of makes sense as we'd heard Jackson brought the rights from Philip Reeve to make his Mortal Engines feature film about a decade ago.

The reason for the delay in production was probably several for several reasons. Jackson and Christian Rivers had been developing a remake of The Dambusters movie (indeed Stephen Fry had a crack at a script). There was also the saga of the Hobbit production which was delayed due to Hollywood politics.

That meant Guillermo del Toro had to drop out of directing the first Hobbit movie. At that time there were two intend movies to be made. Jackson picked up the mantle and eventually directed the three Hobbit movies.

So we can be pretty sure the working title of Mortal Engines is indeed Squeaky Wheels. Pretty obvious when you look in the right place!

Any ways, back to my little discovery.

Squeaky Wheels Limited is a limited liability company which is wholly owned by WINGNUT FILMS PRODUCTIONS LIMITED. This company is of course owned by Peter and Fran Jackson. If you were wondering about the name Micheal Stephens being listed as a director and shareholder, you should know that he is the Jackson's lawyer.

I presume the idea here then is that the company is used to produce the movie and that if any thing goes wrong (earthquake destroys Wellington, debts are not repaid, Jackson is sued for non-performance of a contract etc) the liability is only that of the formed company and does not extended to Wingnut Films Production. It would actually seem that Jackson has this mode of operation as a standard practice as I found companies that go back as far back as The Frighteners!

It would seem this a sensible commercial arrangement and one I'm sure happens a lot in Hollywood - indeed I think for The Force Awakens movie, JJ Abrams created Foodles - which was actually fined by the British Court due to its involvement in Harrison Food's injury - which was a workplace safety issue.

Of further interest, Christian Rivers incorporated RIVS Films Limited a month after the Mortal Engines project was announced.

All this is pretty standard and no big deal. Actually the most interesting thing I discovered the Peter Jackson's middle name is Robert!