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


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.



How the Mortal Engines movie is different from the book

Friday, March 8, 2019


How the Mortal Engines film is different from the novel


To get a movie of a book made and onto the silver screen, the narrative of the plot more often than not needs to be changed.

This is for reasons of time, storytelling and pacing.

Because let's face it books and films are very different mediums and while people can get really upset that their favorite parts of their most favorite books don't get included in the movie, the reality is most changes are necessary.

Some characters get cut out of the script completely (Think Tom Bombadil in Lord of the Rings ) or two or more characters get morphed into one. Even whole endings can change, such as the Watchmen's Giant Squid ending being changed to Doctor Manhattan talking the fall.

Scriptwriters Philipa Boyens, Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson, having won an Oscar for their adaptation of The Return of the King, know a thing or two about taking original works and getting them up on the silver screen.

For instance, the character of Faramir in The Two Towers had to be altered.

Here's what Boyens had to say about it:

"If you're trying to up the tension, you don't have your main characters captured by someone who sort of interrogates them, but, not really, who then offers them a cup of tea and says, 'I'll do anything I can to help you.' It's death on film. And it's not just the effect that the character out of the book has on Frodo and Sam's journey, it's the effect that character has on the Ring.

You've just been desperately trying to establish that this is the most evil thing ever created, it's tearing apart the mind of your main character, it's reduced this other character to this miserable creature Gollum, and now you come along someone who says, 'I would not touch this thing if it lay on the highway.' You've just stripped the Ring of all its power."

Which should demonstrate she knows what she's doing.

The movie, of course, retains plenty of similarities with the book and indeed we're sure that many an English teacher will ask her students to do an essay which compares and contrasts the two mediums. Hey kids!

And so it is with Mortal Engines that the movie had to change a few things in the book.

Here's a few of the key changes and why they were necessary.


Hester's facial scar change


Let's start with the most 'cosmetic' change.

Hester Shaw is not ugly!

In the book she is described as "" whereas the movie softens this dramatically. Yes, Hera Hilmar sports a scar but it's nothing so horrid as one can imagine that Hester wears.

She even has two working eyes!

Anna Fang


Anna Fang’s (played by Jihae) introduction is considerably more action-packed than the novel. She has considerably more on screen time in terms of her 'book pages' time and she is more involved in the final stages of the film - she even dies on London.

Tunbridge Wheels


To help streamline the story into a cogent 2 hour film the pirate town and what happens to Hester and Tom is cut from the film.

Dog

Katherine Valentine's dog called DOG is not in the film.


Of gods and banana?


Look carefully for modern artifacts in the Museum and keep an eye out for the Minions! They are in a section called "Deities of Lost America".

In the novel the humans have mistaken Mickey Mouse for a god. Due to ownership rights, the Minions have been subbed in.

The characters are older than portrayed in the novel


What's that saying about making movies, never work with kids and animals? This big budget movie needs to appeal to a broad audience, and while the novel is Young Adult, Christian Rivers needed to make his movie appealing to a mass audience. So while Tom and Hester are young, the actors playing them are not.

Jackson said of this change "We've changed the book a bit in places. We've aged it up. The book is written for quite a young audience, to some degree, you know? And I just don't think anybody wants to see another teenage dystopian movie any time soon. So, it's one of the reasons why we've aged it sort of up, and we cast it a bit older. Tom and Hester in the book are younger... We had made it a little bit more adult."

Captain Khora and Nils Lindstrom, Yasmina 

The book has small roles for these two friends of Anna Fang yet they have been fleshed out in the movie to give Shrike more time to beat them up!

Magnus and Thaddeus


In the novel Magnus Chrome is the overarching bad guy where Valentine does his dirty work. It would seem that Hugo Weaving's character looms larger of the film than Magnus Chrome.

In the film, Valentine seizes control of London by killing Chrome. In the novel, they both die in the same room as London explodes.

Airships


Airships now have jet propulsion, because it makes for a better spectacle. 

Guild symbols


It would seem the movie characters do not have their respective guild symbols permanently attached on their foreheads like they do in the novel. Instead it appears they show their demarcations by use of symbols on their clothing.

The Ending


A vastly changed ending for the movie which works well.

Tom does not kill Shrike, He's effectively taken down by the Anti-Traction League and a few well placed shots by Anna Fang flying the Jenny Hanniver. This serves as an opportunity for Shrike to forgive Hester for leaving him, freeing him from her promise (the concept of him turning her into a Stalker was still at play from the novel).

Valentine is not killed on London, he is killed by London after he crashes on the 13th Floor Elevator which was shot down by Tom. The wheels of London crush him just as he thinks he's survived his final clash with Hester.

Anna still dies at the hands of Valentine but it is on London.

Katherine Valentine - well played as a character but went simply nowhere in terms of plot, like you could cut the character (and Bevis) and have no consequence to the ending of the movie, which is completely different to the ending of the novel. In the novel, Katherine dies, in the book, she leads the people of London to the shield wall.

Other points of difference


↠ The first line of Mortal Engines was inspired by the novel '1984'

Thursday, February 28, 2019
pencil sketch of London City in Mortal Engines

I had an idea on the possible inspiration the first line of the Mortal Engines novel and asked the author Philio Reeve about it and eventually got a surprising answer!

Update Two:

Philip Reeve followed up again to my question with an awesome thought:

"I guess it's really based (though not consciously) on the opening line of 1984 (It was a..cold day in April & the clocks were striking 13')."



I read 1984 in one sitting the first time I read it and I will never forget the last line where the character is happy for he 'loves Big Brother' but could I remember the first line? No, and it turns out to be amazingly clever.

Big thanks to Mr Reeve for being so forthcoming!

Update One:

I asked the author himself and with a single word he shot down my theory! I love how in the modern world, I can create a fan theory and then hours later, Mr Reeve kindly shoots it down!


Original piece:

Here's the first sentence of the novel Mortal Engines:

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


When I first read it, it was immediately captivated. I'd heard the novel was about giant mechanical cities and some kind of 'Mad Max style' adventure for kids but I had no idea of what the book was really about. This line was brilliant as it pulls the reader into exactly was is happening, to whom and gives a sense of time in that the North Sea has dried out.

What happened there? Philip Reeve has got me hooked with the first line. That hasn't happened I don't think since I read Cormac McCarthy's The Road. Great stuff.

But the line seemed immediate familiar to me, as if I'd read it before. I couldn't place it and I moved on, keen to see what this chase was all about as I'd heard it was some crazy Mad Max style adventure for kids...

And then the other week at work, we did the daily quiz that comes with the newspaper. It's a team thing we do each day. It's great fun.

But to my point, one of the questions was, what is the famous opening line of  Edward Bulwer-Lytton's novel Paul Clifford?

I took a stab in the dark and said "it was a dark and stormy night" and I was right!

Kind of.

Curious I looked up the book and saw this was the whole famous opening sentence:

"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."


Purple prose indeed.

And then it struck me. And, as if you didn't already perhaps know yourself - I realized it's VERY similar to Reeve's line in Mortal Engines. Did Reeve borrow it for inspiration?

Let's break it down:

ME: "It was a dark, blustery afternoon in spring"
Paul Clifford: "It was a dark and stormy night"

Well the first four letters are the same and the sentence is describing the weather. So it's fair to wonder if Reeve was inspired by this line which has become such a cliche that this writer can use it to correctly guess a quiz answer!

Philip Reeve does plenty of name dropping and puns and references in his books, so it's with no real surprise he's cleverly done this but if you're not convinced, re-read the words again. The subject of each sentence is the city of London!

Now, this is just a theory I have. I can't find any discussion about this idea on the internet anywhere, so it's just an idea.

It's a shame that this line probably won't be used in the actual movie. Unless there's a narrator who explains what's going on we will most likely only be treated to the visual version of London city chasing some hapless prey.

I personally can't wait to see how the city looks.

I think given it's gonna be up there on silver screen with Peter Jackson's name attached it's going to have to be HUGE, way bigger than it's usually depicted in fan art - the perspective will need to be established quite well.

Fun Fact: Edward Bulwer-Lytton coined the phrase "the pen is mightier than the sword" which is funny because if any one had asked I would have said it was Shakespeare. Speaking of the Great Bard, it blew my mind when I learned  that Shakespeare used the words 'mortal engines' in Othello....

City of London drawing care of Callum Gillies
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