What is the MEDUSA weapon in Mortal Engines?

Thursday, October 31, 2019
medusa being fired from London

BOOK AND FILM SPOILERS BELOW

How does the Medusa weapon work in Mortal Engines?

MEDUSA.

In Mortal Engines, MEDUSA was the ancient Old-Tech super weapon that the Mayor of London city, Magnus Chrome tried to use to breach the Shield Wall.

Magnus intended to use the Medusa weapon against the Walk so that he could take London City through to the fertile hunting grounds beyond the wall.

But what exactly is the Medusa and how is it used?

Does it make you turn to stone if you look at it too long?

MEDUSA is a 'ground-based' weapon.

It is stated in the Mortal Engines novel as taking up the whole of the inside of St Paul's Cathedral, where the Guild of Engineers had rebuilt it under complete secrecy.

Philip Reeve described as having a huge, metallic hood shaped 'like a cobra's hood'. It fires a beam of energy (either sourced from outside the real universe, or the cities generators), resembling a "cat-o-nine-tails", at targets up to two hundred miles away.

The firing coordinates are input via a control panel at the base of the firing mechanism.

In the Mortal Engines novel, the Medusa was never actually used as intended.

It was accidentally destroyed by Katherine Valentine who was mortally wounded during her noble attempt to sabotage it. She succeeded somewhat - the Medusa was unable to be fired by Magnus Chrome but it did over heat, blow up and destroy the city of London with it.

The resulting explosion killed most of the thousands of people living in the city, many of them innocent.

Medusa weapon concept art from Mortal Engines
A concept idea: The Engineers prepare Medusa for firing

So where did the MEDUSA  weapon come from?


The weapon was originally deployed in America during the infamous Sixty Minute War, the one which turned planet Earth into a post-apocalyptic wasteland from which the traction cities eventually evolved from. This is not to say the Medusa was the only weapon used that caused the destruction. The satellite systems known as ODIN  also wreaked a fair amount of damage.

Many thousands of years after the great War, London secretly made archeological expeditions to the Dead Continent and gathered the pieces of Medusa from an old Brothal base and re-assembled it inside the St Paul's complex.

In a key plot point which echoed a generation,  Thaddeus Valentine (working for Magnus Chrome)  had years before the events of the book, sort to obtain the computer control system of the Medusa. A fabulously complex item of technology even by the standards of scientists from the pre-war era,

Valentine tracked it to being in the hands of Hester's parents, found them and killed them. During this horrible moment, he also scarred Hester with his sword, both physically and of course mentally.

So what is the plot of Mortal Engines in relation to Medusa?


Katherine Valentine spends most of the first part of Mortal Engines trying to figure out what MEDUSA is. Then, when the city of London is being chased by the city Panzerstadt-Bayreuth the roof of St Paul's Cathedral lifts up and destroys the predator city with a blast of pure energy from the weapon.

The successful use of the weapon serves as proof of concept to Magnus Chrome and it further adds to his resolve to breach the Shield Wall.

Magnus' plans are ultimately foiled when MEDUSA system overloads with energy and explodes, obliterating most of London with it.

The movie version plays out quite different - Medusa is actually fired on the wall before it is destroyed by Tom.

Here's some points on how the book is different from the movie.

Concept art of Medusa being opened above Saint Paul's Cathedral by Jaekyung Jaguar Lee. Medusa firing art design by Peter Yea.

5 ways the Mortal Engine film borrowed from Star Wars

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Star Wars was a key influence on the Mortal Engines movie


When doing promo work for Mortal Engines, director Christian Rivers spoke of how the movie was pitched when they shopped it around the studios.

What does it look like they asked?

Rivers said this:

"I drew a triangle on a piece of paper, and the three points of the triangle were Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Mad Max. It is in our future after an apocalypse. But we don't want it to be all rusty, and f***ing grim and bleak. We wanted to have a technology and a scale that sort of could be Star Wars-esque. But we also wanted it to have a sort of a charm and a sort of cultural character to it that could be like the Harry Potter films."

After seeing the film (here's our glowing review), we think that triangle might have been lopsided in favor of Star Wars because Mortal Engines is quite strong with the Force!

Here are a few key references and plot points that the Peter Jackson production borrowed from George Lucas's films.

SPOILERS

  1. Valentine's big reveal to Hester that he was her father was during a duel where the stakes were life and death is straight from the playbook of The Empire Strikes Back where Darth Vader reveals he is Luke's dad.
  2. When Tom Natsworthy becomes an 'aviator' and flies into the heart of the engines of London and fires a blast at a key part of the engine, well he would make Lando Calrissian proud because he and Wedge Antilles pulled that move destroying the Death Star II in Return of the Jedi.
  3. The whole, racing against time to destroy London before it fires on Batmunkh Gompa's shield wall is basically the plot of the last third of Star Wars: A New Hope. i.e. Destroy the Death Star before it destroys the Rebel base. Admittedly, Star Wars inspired by the Gregory Peck film, The Guns of Navarone for this idea. 
  4. The opening chase where London runs down a smaller, fleeing traction city, is a retread copy of the opening of Star Wars when Darth Vader's Star Destroy is chasing Princess Leia's Correllian Corvette, the Tantive IV.
  5. The author of the novel, Philip Reeve freely acknowledges he based Anna Fang on Han Solo

Don't get us wrong, just as George Lucas borrowed from a million movies to make his own sci-fi film, it's fine for Mortal Engines to do the same of Star Wars! All that was missing though was Jabba The Hutt!

While we are at it, check out trivia for The Rise of Skywalker and The Mandalorian.

How Mortal Engines is a cult classic

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

How Mortal Engines can become a cult classic film 


If one can call a movie that had a rumored US 100 million production budget a cult classic, Mortal Engines is destined to become one.

But what is a cult classic?

It can be a film that is popular or fashionable among a particular group or section of society.

It wasn't just passed over once when first released, instead, people keep coming back to it, they celebrate it. 

Think Dune, Rocky Horror Picture Show, the original Mad Max, THX-1138, Eraserhead, The Big Lebowski, The Princess Bride, Barbarella. Blues Brothers, Pulp Fiction and Plan 9 from Outerspace.

Not only is it that the film has a following, but it might also be that it didn't necessarily have an immediate and accepting audience. There may be an element of subculture appeal.

Steampunk is a subculture right?

Enter Mortal Engines.

This film will be remembered as a flop for producer Peter Jackson and director Christian Rivers.

Which kind of helps the 'ignored by the world at large' movie thing.

But it will also be remembered for some amazing things contained in the movie.

The batshit insane concept alone is enough for this film to be remembered but the CGI of London was something that had never been done before.

It was a completely original vision that had been rendered to the screen by the Jackson production team.

It will be a cult classic because in many ways it is as corny as any corny film that been before. It's so earnest it parts the movie doesn't know how hysterically funny it is. But it has its charm and so it works.

It will also likely be a classic because it is forever tied to Peter Jackson so people will likely discover the movies for themselves for years to come.

Time will tell.

Roky Erickson Of 'The 13th Floor Elevators' has died

Saturday, June 1, 2019
rock ericson

Why do we care about the death of a singer of a band that not many people actually remember, let alone have heard of?

There's a certain ship in Mortal Engines that is named after the band for author Philip Reeve sure remembers them!

13th elevator mortal engines

The design above is the '13th Floor Elevator' which is the ship of Historian and explorer, Thadeus Valentine. He's the protagonist of the film. The ship itself was designed by Nick Keller.

Philip Reeve just loves to reference modern pop culture in his novels and Mortal Engines is littered with references to music and famous people. 

Listen to the 13th Floor Elevator's most popular single "You're gonna miss me":


It feels a little Van Morrison...


Amazing drawings of Hester Shaw

Wednesday, April 3, 2019
not_very_ladylike  - hester shaw drawing

Some handy sketches and drawings of Hester Shaw from Mortal Engines. The imagination shown by the designers is incredible! It's quite clear that Hester is a fan favourite (and of course Shrike!)

hester shaw with knife pencil drawing

hester shaw sketch

graphic design of hester shaw

pencil drawing of hester's face




pastel hester shaw

hester shaw drawing designs

I must confess I neglected to keep track of who drew what. If you know, please sound out in the comments!

This one was by magpiey

fan art of hester shaw

Philip Reeve has announced a sequel to "Naughty Nimrods!"

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Philip Reeve has announced a sequel to "Naughty Nimrods!"


Last year's release of Naughty Nimrods by Philip Reeve was a welcome return to the realm of Mortal Engines.

Naughty Nimords was a tour de force of literary discourse from Reeve as he opened up the Mortal Engines world a bit more by showing us the fabulous life and times of Professor Nimrod Pennyroyal.

Now, Reeve has announced that a sequel will be released next April called 'Naughty Nimrods Go Bananas'.

"I was delighted to go back and have another crack at a beloved character and his family. Nimrod is such a naughty yet fun kind of character - the kind of joker you want at a dinner party and you don't mind when he drinks all your wine. Yet, underneath his waistcoat is a seriously sharp mind but one poisoned by years of cashing cheques his own ego cannot cash."

Reeve also added:

"Naughty Nimrods Go Bananas is intended to be a simply bonkers mad kind of a name. I was thinking about Herbie goes to Montecarlo and I just knew I had to get some kind of reference to one of the greatest film series ever into the title."

This makes a lot of sense as Reeve often uses pop culture references in the Mortal Engines books.

This is a delightful bookend to the news that came earlier today that Stephen Fry is to play Pennyroyal in the film sequel to Mortal Engines!

Naughty Nimrods Go Bananas is to be published on 1 April 2020.

Mortal Engines film sequel confirmed! Stephen Fry to star as Pennyroyal


Seeing as this has stayed popular, let's be clear that this was an April Fool's Day joke for 2019.

Peter Jackson has confirmed that the Mortal Engines film is to get a sequel after all!


It will be called Mortal Engines: Fool's Gold

Which is a play on the book sequel: Predator's Gold.

This is fantastic news as, given the failure of the original film to fully fire on all Traction Wheels at the box office, no one was expecting it.

Jackson is quoted from the announcement press release:

"I'm bloody excited to say we have managed to secure funding from the New Zealand Film Commission to do a low budget version of the sequel to Mortal Engines.

We will be focussing on using local Kiwi talent, props over CGI and best of all, we are using a script developed by Sarah McIntyre and Philip Reeve.

I'm delighted to say that Hera and Robbie are back for a second turn at their characters and Christian Rivers is back in the director's chair"

Veteran actor Stephen Fry is set to star as Professor Pennyroyal.

stephen fry


Filming starts 1 April 2020.

We cannot be more excited!

Seeing as this has stayed popular, let's be clear that this was an April Fool's Day joke for 2019.




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