Friday, May 18, 2018

'A Web of Air' - Book Review

a web of air book cover

What has become of Fever Crumb?

So after I read the delightful Fever Crumb novel, I just HAD TO KEEP going to find out what further adventures would befall our young Engineer, Fever in the sequel A Web of Air.

I mostly wanted to find out what happened to Ruan and Fern, the children of Kit Solent who became the legendary heartbroken killing machine that became Shrike.

The tale begins with a play being presented which slowly reveals the current state of play for Fever.

If you recall the ending of the titular novel, she stepped onto a boat and sailed away. She's now part of that boat's crew who are actors, thespians and good souls who have adopted Fever, Fern and Ruan (what a great name for a law firm eh?) into their theatrical troupe.

Fever does the lights for the stage production by applying her electrical engineering skills.

Author Philip Reeve quite deftly weaves in a little backstory from the first novel and sets up the play and cast of characters.

But what is the summary play?

We have talking birds.

A boy whose family was killed by the ocean.

A charming visitor from London (who we are calling right now as a double agent)

A mysterious watcher in the woods...

And then it gets pretty dull and drawn out, a near-death experience that possibly cannot be so,   though I must all this is all alongside a clever reinvention of the classic idea that evil corporations like to kill people who invent water fueled motor engines.

I'm not one of these rabid fans that will defend their love with a blind eye, I gotta admit, I was getting a bit bored and then S*N*A*C*K*S*I*E* >> Reeve finally pulled some good old Mortal Engines magic out of his quill and we are game on with a slight twist which sets the rest of the story up for a fast past narrative that does the name Philip Reeve, author of A Darkling Plan, justice.

The story builds well but frankly it's pretty low level when compared to the mighty vistas that Reeve has previously carved up with. Angels come home to roost in unexpected ways as Fever and the mysterious Arlo see to their adventure to its conclusion.

While tightly written, overall I was was disappointed with the story's final stakes.

Some take outs:

  • We loved how we learn what the name 'Jenny Hanniver' really means.
  • Having now read A Web of Air, we are are quite excited about Jeremy Levett's AMA where he hints that a character from this novel will turn up in Night Flights.
  • We enjoyed Crumb's strong dislike of religion being used as a story plot and then turned on it's head by the character to achieve a goal - which showed strong character growth.
  • Order A Web of Air from Amazon or Book Depository (which has free shipping!)

We're going to be alright

Hester Shaw often let her actions speak louder than words in the Mortal Engines series, though she sometimes spelled things out with a typewriter.

She did however give Tom Natsworthy a rather good pep talk:

you're not a hero - hester shaw

The talented artist is Amy Bradford and posted this great quote to Instagram with her version of Hester. Check out her other work, she's got some sweet ideas.

The line was a nice bit of foreshadowing by author Philip Reeve too....

Sunday, May 6, 2018

London gets a Premiere for Mortal Engines

hester shaw

London's calling for Mortal Engines.

The Peter Jackson produced, Christian Rivers directed film about giant traction cities that roam a scorched Earth will get a premiere in London on 11 December 2018.

The movie itself opens on December 14th.

Just in time for the Christmas movie crush - Bumble Bee, Spider Man, Mary Poppins Returns and Aquaman all have releases at that time.


Saturday, April 28, 2018

Nice Blade Runner shirt, Christian

Mortal Engines director Christian Reeves was spotted out and about with some friends and colleagues - of interest is his shirt - it's the advertising for the Tyrell Company from the classic Blade Runner films. I say classic because the new one was incredible!

christian rivers mortal engines

If Peter Jackson is not directing Mortal Engines, who is?

Christian Rivers' cameo in Lord of the Rings

Who is directing Mortal Engines?

The short answer is Christian Rivers.

But who is he and why does Peter Jackson think him worthy of directing his production?

Christian first met Peter Jackson when he was just 17 years old and first worked for him on Jackson's splatter comedy, Braindead as a story board artist (it was re-titled to 'Dead Alive!' for American film viewers).

christian rivers director Rivers started out as a storyboard artist and became very involved with visual effects supervision, special effects technician. 

He won an Oscar for his visual effect achievements on King Kong. 

Rivers was  eventually announced as the helm of Jackson's remake of classic war film, The Dambusters.

This project was sidelined (possibly due to the production demand of The Hobbit series and the delays associated with it) and Rivers then actually acted as second unit director on the Hobbit trilogy of films. 

Proving his worth, he was given the opportunity of a life time to direct a big budget movie, Mortal Engines.

Fun fact: Christian had a cameo as an armored soldier in Lord of the Rings, that's him above. Also did a turn as a soldier driving a truck in King Kong. We speculate that he will cameo again in Mortal Engines!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The eyes have it - Hester Shaw confirmed with two eyes and a scar at Cinemacon

Peter Jackson sent a bit of Mortal Engines footage to Cinemacon where it was shown to some key people, including Eric Vespe.

One can totally trust the opinions and reporting of Eric, he's been in the movie journalism business for many years.

And he has confirmed that the footage he saw showed Hester Shaw with two eyes and a scar.

Fans have been a bit nervous about this with most wanting the novel version of Hester.

In the novels, Hester is horribly disfigured due to a run in with a sword which left her blind in one eye. This was a deliberate action by Philip Reeve to turn the classic 'boy meets girl tale' on its head.

Instead, Peter Jackson and Christian Rivers went the 'Hollywood route' for the character.  Money of course talks in Hollywood. Casual views might not be sold on a grotesque Hester....

Some fans will be greatly disappointed but at least it sounds like there's a good scar for the character.

Here's Vespe's description of the scar:

Great to see @AMblaushild asking the right questions!

It does sound from other reports out the Cinemacon that Mortal Engines looks pretty amazing.

But some people were not impressed:

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Calvin and Hobbes do Mortal Engines by @ZugMichael

This was too good to not share. Artist Zug Nut has shared on Twitter his version of cartoon legends, Calvin and Hobbes masqerading as Shrike and Hester riding (flying?!) the Jenny Hanniver:

calvin and hobbes cartoon as mortal engines

We love how it's a play on the original cover of the first Mortal Engines novel and gosh, is that the first time in history that Shrike actually has a smile?

And because I'm a bit of a Star Wars nut, I'm also sharing Zug Nut's interpretation of Flash Gordon himself as an X-Wing pilot. Flash Gordon being a massive influence on George Lucas and Star Wars:

flashgordon as xwing pilot