How Mortal Engines became the new John Carter of Mars

Wednesday, December 19, 2018
why mortal engines bombed


Have you seen John Carter of Mars?

Did you see it at the theatre?

We didn't and frankly, we saw it only when it was on Netflix a while back.

And we loved it!

It was a fun movie, with a lot to like. It was great for me as I learned that the books it was based on by Edgar Rice Burrows were a huge influence on the first Star Wars.

Expectations were high yet it underperformed to those expectations. Ultimately Disney had to do a 200 million dollar write down, making it a financial disaster for them.

So that's the legacy of what is really quite an enjoyable film.

Now Player Two has entered the game.

Peter Jackson, money spinner for the studios, got his hands on the rights to Phil Reeve's Mortal Engines novel a decade ago and has quietly bided his time to get it made following the saga he went through making The Hobbit trilogy.

So, now we have the Peter Jackson produced, Christian Rivers directed film made by the same team that made King Kong, Lord of the Rings, the Lovely Bones and The Hobbit plus twenty years of experience doing visual effects for many Hollywood films.

Plenty of Oscar winners amongst them.

What could go wrong?

Well, Mortal Engines has tanked just like John Carter did.

So much so, given that it was a high profile effort like Disney that it will become just as infamous.

How did this occur?

There are several things that can go into this answer, most of it subjective.

The first is that starting a new franchise like this is a gamble. With great risk can come great reward and Universal Studios backed Peter Jackson to deliver them buckets of cash.

The risk in this case is there was not an already established and well baked in fan base.

Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit had been in popular culture for 50 odd years.

Transformers has been around since the early 80s.

So they will get bums on seats, pretty much no matter what.

You get the idea.

Mortal Engines?

It was a well-received novel which had a smallish but not worldwide fan base. Sure, it did well enough for Reeve to do three excellent sequels but the average Joe and Janette had probably not heard of it.

So convincing people to see a film about a book where a giant city roams a scorched Earth looking to eat other cities is a big task.

So let's hand over to the Marketing department.

One of the reasons the film failed was arguably it was marketed quite poorly. And if that's the case, the blame falls on Universal and not Peter Jackson.

While we praised it publically, the first Mortal Engines trailer was utter garbage. Other than showing how huge and daunting a prospect London is, it just * felt * bad. Something was off on it. There was a lot of exposition and it felt like it was Hunger Games, Twilight or a Maze Runner Clone.

Movies of which time and the audience have moved on from .

So, many people dismissed it off the bat.

At the time we felt there was too much focus on Hester and not enough on what we KNEW would be the drawcard, that of Stephan Lang's Shrike. On seeing that character's absence we knew they were holding Shrike back which we figured was a mistake based on what we were seeing.

When the second trailer came, Shrike was there, looking pretty menacing as a zombie-like Terminator.

However, the impact was lost.

Shrike should have been played up big time. The marketing could have been a play on the HUNT FOR HESTER by SHRIKE not some damn generic love story we'd seen before.

If PJ and company had not played it safe with Hester's scar, they made have had another way in. Would people have been curious to see a movie about a hideously scarred character?

hester scar comparison
What could have been and what was...
Maybe?

Either way, the generic Hester (played by a talented but basically no-name actress) was not enough to pull in viewers.

Nor was the talented Robbie Shehan as Tom.

Hugo Weaving is a talented actor and has appeared in many a popular film but is he actually a box office draw as a stand-alone actor?

I don't believe so.

Don't get me wrong, he's fantastic and did a great job as Thaddeus Valentine but people don't line up to see Hugo Waving films. They line up to see films he's in...

So basically I'm saying there was a lack of star power present in the marketing to draw the casual moviegoer into seeing the film, especially when they'd been presented a fairly uninspiring first trailer.

Arguably the second also gave away the film's plot... and it also featured some garbage about joining a 'rebellion'.

Hmmm, that sounds familiar...

Was this a Star Wars movie?

Actually, it turned out to be and it seems a lot of people had a problem with this...

Now let's just state at this point we loved the Mortal Engines film. We knew what it was going in so expectations were set.

Casual filmgoers were hooked on the promise of a "Peter Jackson" movie which in many minds probably meant they were supposed to see something as good as District 9 or Return of the King.

Sorry folks, you got ... Mortal Engines with some Star Wars plots thrown in.

And this for some reason upset a lot of people. It was criticized for borrowing ideas from a movie that famously borrowed ideas from many other movies.

Go figure, the film crowd is a fickle thing.

So of the movie? Critics hated it.

They savaged it.

But what of the people who saw the movie as movie goers? 

This is where the film suffers. It's a kind of love it or hate it film. This is based on my following of assessments of the film by people on Twitter for the last two weeks.

Interestingly, a lot of comment was of people who went in cold, with no expectations was they really enjoyed it.

That said, some people simply thought it was a turd.

And that's OK.

This does, however, add up to the movie having a lower positive word of mouth than other critically panned movies have had. Tom Hardy's Venom was trashed by critics yet it did wonders at the box office - fans loved it, so it had good word of mouth - an established fan base sure helped too.

So poor word of mouth will have harmed the movie's chances.

We sure tried our best.


The timing of the film's release was curious 


The release of Mortal Engines in early December seems smart for a Tent Pole Peter Jackson production.

Except it went up against what is probably one of the strongest December release schedules in many a year.

Aquaman, with a built in fan base featuring a hugely popular actor.

Bumblebee, built in fan base featuring a hugely popular actor.

Mary Poppins Returns, with a built in fan base featuring a hugely popular actress.

And SPIDER MAN!

So four films which many people will prefer to see over a film they have never really heard much about.

The studio will have known this, and recognised this 6 months ago yet they did nothing. This means they were accepting that the film would fail well before the final cut was done.

Think about that. 

All this adds up to a distinct box office failure which is a shame because, like John Carter, Mortal Engines is a fun film, that many people would likely have enjoyed if they had given it a shot.

Will there be a sequel? Given this film's failure to make bank, we can be fairly confident that the idea is as dead as London's engines.

5 ways the Mortal Engine film borrowed from Star Wars

Sunday, December 16, 2018

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 flys 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!

↠ 35 Easter eggs, facts and trivia the Mortal Engines movie

Tuesday, December 11, 2018
trivia about mortal engines

Mortal Engines movie facts and trivia


Everyone loves nuggets of gold about how movies are made, the secrets that are well hidden until the movie is made and some good old trivia. Just look at Star Wars trivia, everyone loves that!

Here's what we've learned about the making of the first Mortal Engines feature movie, including a few well placed Easter Eggs that IMDB may have missed...
  1. Mortal Engines is the first feature film directed by Christian Rivers. At one point he was going to direct the remake of The Dambusters however that project was put on the back burner.
  2. The first of Philip Reeve's novels to be turned into a movie. Railhead next?
  3. Filming took mostly place at Weta Studios in Wellington's suburb of Miramar in New Zealand. This is where Peter Jackson and Richard Taylor and co have based themselves for 20 years making films such as Braindead, King Kong and The Frighteners.
  4. Peter Jackson purchased the film rights from Philip Reeve in 2001 and has quietly worked on the movie ever since.
  5. This is the first film written by Peter Jackson (with his usual partners Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyle) that he has not directed. First-time helmer (and Jackson protege) Christian Rivers has the directing duties.
  6. Produced by WingNut Films, the same company Jackson uses everytime he makes a movie.
  7. Katherine Valentine is seen holding a book about the Sixty Minute War written by Nimrod Pennyroyal. This is a great Easter Egg as Pennyroyal is actually a pivotal character in the series that enters the fray in the first sequel Predators' Gold. Given Pennyroyals books are usually works of fiction though marketed as nonfiction, it's quite likely this book is a complete nonsense.
  8. Actress Hera Hilmar has been cast as Hester Shaw.
  9. The trailer made its debut with The Last Jedi
  10. The name of the movie comes from a line in William Shakespeare's Othello
  11. Mark Hadlow has a role in the movie. His first acting connection with Peter Jackson was in the Hobbit trilogy so it's clear Hadlow is a trusted and respect actor within that circle. He plays Orme Wreyland.
  12. The pin Chudleigh Pomery wears is the one that Bilbo Baggins wore in The Fellowship of the Rings.
  13. Rivers deliberately steered away from the movie looking like Mad Max. "We didn't want it to be post-apocalyptic dystopia so, we didn't want it to be 'Mad Max.' We didn't want it to be 'Hunger Games' or 'Divergent.' That's kind of a bleak, dystopian sort of film, you know? It needed to tie to our world." Funnily enough most reviews seemed to compare it to Fury Road!
  14. Look carefully for modern artifacts in the Museum and keep an eye out for the Despicable Me - 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.
  15. 63 sets were built in Jackson's studio at Miramar, Wellington. These included the London GUT (Great Under Tier), Shrike’s workshop, Pomeroy’s museum, the slave market, and St. Paul’s Cathedral (in which MEDUSA is housed).
  16. The production received a rebate from the New Zealand government to recognise it had created a lot of employment opportunities and training for New Zealanders.
  17. Hester Shaw has two eyes in the film whereas in the book she only has one due to being sliced with a sword by Valentine prior to the start of the novel. The book made Hester face very ugly with a grotesque scar which was toned down for the movie.
  18. Author Philip Reeve and his son were cameo extras in the film. They filmed their parts when Reeve made a secret trip to New Zealand in May 2017.
  19. Singer Jihae is playing Anna Fang, a key figure of the Anti Traction League. The theme song Jihae sings is a cover of Vera Lynn's 'There'll Always Be An England.'
  20. Hester and Tom shared a Twinkie between - the joke beign Twinkies can last forever. 
  21. The opening scene is striking similar to the opening of Star Wars: A New Hope.
  22. Jackson first started trying to make Mortal Engines in 2008 and would have directed it had the saga of The Hobbit's production being held in limbo not got in the way. 
  23. Liam Vogel was the official second unit director, however, Peter Jackson jumped in every so often. 
  24. Noted Lord of the Rings concept designer John Howe worked on the movie. 
  25. The legal entity of the production was a company called 'Squeaky Wheels'. 
  26. 'Squeaky Wheels' was also the working name of the movie and it was shipped to theatres as such. 
  27. The novel originally started out as a short story called Urbivore. The concept of moving cities came directly from that.  The story was notable for having a male aviator called Fang - the name clearly carried over to the Anna Fang character. The word urbivore stuck with Reeve as he used in to describe a giant city in A Darkling Plain
  28. The Shrike character name was inspired by Max Shreck from the Nosferatu film. When Reeve learned the film 'Shrek' was coming out, he amended the name. Shrike is so named for the bird that kills its insect prey by spiking it on thorns and other sharp plants.
  29. The opening chase of Salthook and London is closely modeled in concept on the opening of Star Wars.
  30. Salthook has been renamed Saltzhaken for the movie.
  31. The electronic screens around London show wanted posters that features Peter Jackson’s face. This is presumably his cameo. 
  32. The film has a different ending from the novel. Surprise!
  33. Tom Holkenborg who wrote the score said of it "I think I found a balance between the brutality of Mad Max while honoring the orchestral writing that made the 50s great."
  34. When London's public address system warns "Be aware, children may be temporarily separated from parents.". This is a deliberate real world reference to American politics where immigrant families where separated as a matter of policy under the Trump administration.
  35. Peter Jackson brought the rights to the film in 2009 meaning it took nearly 10 years to get the film on screen - you can thank The Hobbit for being turned into 3 films for that!

Will there be a Mortal Engines movie sequel?

mortal engines concept art nik henderson


Is there going to be a Predator's Gold sequel to Mortal Engines?


While Peter Jackson and company are keen on doing Mortal Engines sequels and the movie has had a fair bit of praise, there has been no formal announcement of sequel plans.

Making a Hollywood movie blockbuster is no mean feat. If it were easy to do so, every good story about space aliens driving trains would be turned into a film. So, to convince a studio executive to plump up some cash for an untested 'Intellectual Property' is a mission and a half.

It's why sequels are so popular, they are cash cows with less risk than something untested. Look at Marvel's Ironman, it's had like 16 sequels already...

So, when it comes to the Philip Reeve novel, Mortal Engines, no studio exec is going to take a punt on a book about giant cities driving around eating each other.

Unless Peter Jackson is attached to write and produce it.

So, that's the angle the studios are taking. Jackson and his NAME have been tasked to get Mortal Engines across the line.

Given the novel has three sequels and three prequels, there's a mapped out path that a movie sequel can take (Predator's Gold etc) but will ME get one?

Film producer Peter Jackson said:

“As for whether we go ahead or not with the others, it’s not in our hands,” said Jackson. All we can do is to make the very best film for Mortal Engines that we can. And I’m certainly confident that we’ve done that. I don’t know how we could made anything better than to be made to be honest, you know, based on that book. So we’ve done our job and now it’s really a case of making the film and seeing the audiences show up.”

SO GO SEE IT AGAIN ;)

Oscar winning scriptwriter and long time Jackson associate, Philipa Boyens had this to say when asked about the possibility of a second film:

"I certainly never sat down and I know Pete did sat down and thought of this in terms of a sequel–you know, sequels. I mean, we’re just, like, get this thing working first. And then think about what may happen."

"But, mostly, this has to work as a film. This may be the only one. Who knows? I hope not because I think it’s a–I think the story just keeps getting better and better. And I want to see the other traction engines now that I’ve seen in this one.

I want to see Panzerstadt. I want to see Arkangel. I want to see these ones that are bigger and meaner."

Boyen's 'has too work' as a film comment is telling and I think it almost has a double meaning. Obviously, ME needs to be a good film, one that viewers enjoy watching. But it also has to work for it's success. It needs to perform at the box office.

Big time.

I don't think ME will get a second sequel if it just does OK. It will need to perform all around the world, especially and obviously in the United States.

So will Mortal Engines be a success and earn a sequel? This author is personally worried.

While we gave it a fairly enthusiastic review, some critics have savaged the film.

If you've seen the film and read the book, you'll know that a key plot point of the final book will have to be resolved in a clever way, but let's not get ahead of ourselves and hope we get to see the Predator's Gold novel developed for the big screen.



-

The glorious concept art above is by the talented Nik Henderson.

You know what would have been crazier than a Predator's Gold movie sequel? If the Star Wars sequel was not Empire but Splinter of a Mind's Eye?

Review of Mortal Engines

Thursday, December 6, 2018
shrike mortal engines movie review

Review of Mortal Engines 


This review of the Mortal Engines film is long, over opinionated and full of unnessary concern about how The Last Jedi played out.

Deal with it.

Oh, and spoilers.

Making movies is a risky game of kind. For the studios, it's a numbers game. The successful movies fund and offset the duds. Sometimes you throw some celluloid at a wall to see what sticks.

But no movie is going to get a green light if it's a gonna be a dud on delivery.

So at the face of it, Mortal Engines being a love story set against the background of a post-apocalyptic Earth where some of the remaining humans live on giant traction cities that eat other for precious resources in some kind of zero-sum game called Municipal Darwinism perhaps does seems like it has dud potential (in the eyes of a risk adverse studio exec anyway).

Just throw that celluloid!

Anyways, Peter Jackson steps up to the plate along with his offsiders, Fran Walsh and Pippa Boyens so the royal they let him throw some celluloid.

I think this is a phrase I just made up. I'm copyrighting it just in case.

So anyways a trio from New Zealand that has more Oscars between them than most major Hollywood production teams stepped up.

And so, with a bit of American cash and some Kiwi splash, yet another Kiwi Oscar winner, Christian Rivers, was unleashed to direct the adaption of Reeve's YA novel.

And when the first trailer was released this author truly feared a dud was on the cards. We didn't say this publically (yeah, we know but wanted to support this film) but it looked like a cool idea with a wrong color palette that got zapped by a taser on acid.

Or something.

Details slowly came out which suggested promise and finally, we saw Shrike we were feeling a lot better about things.

Was a story about giant cities eating each other with Sir Peter Jackson's name splashed over it going to get a leg over the other hordes of films released this month (Mary Poppins, Aquaman, Bumblebee) or would it be a one and done?

For this reviewer, one who is closely attached to the books, the associated lore Reeve has built up through short stories and prequels and the fans, I can't quite bring myself rate it as a "That will do pig, that will do" but I can sneak in a "The battle of Helm's Deep is over; the battle for Middle Earth is about to begin."....

By that I mean, where's my damn sequel already?

I look at this film like I look at Transformers movie where giant robots kick each other in the head or giant Yeagar rise up out of the sea to kill everyone a la Pacific Rim. You accept it, buckle in for the ride and enjoy it for what it is.

Which is:

Some. 

Big. 

Dumb. 

Fun!

If you look at Mortal Engines as a concept any other way, you're probably going to end up feeling like the hordes of fan boys and girls who hated The Last Jedi.

Because this film is not about a box of err... Roses.

What are you looking at Dear Reader?

So after all these words, what of the damn movie?


It's probably the most spectacular train wreck of a movie that I've ever seen. And I saw the Transformers sequel twice.

THIS MEANS I LOVE IT!

That said, I'm pretty sure the haters are gonna hate, hate, hate, but the players...

The players will turn this major motion picture by a Hollywood studio into a cult film.

I'm certain there will be legions of book readers out there who have turned each page with fear and trepidation as to what would befall Tom and Hester next, who will want to see what it looks like when London calls and when they do, their mortal hearts will be happy.

So what of the movie then?

The Love Story


The story of Mortal Engines is often pitched as a Young Adult love story (of an inverse kind) but this movie has aged the characters into their mid-twenties so the love story that evolves is more natural in a sense but it certainly feels like Tom Natsworthy and Hera Hilamr didn't stay up all night together drinking Steinlager and working on their characters before they began rolling film.

Or pressing play on the record button or however they do it these days.

Both are clearly excellent actors but the relationship feels stilted (even despite the plot point of it)  - that's presumably what happens when you change the character dynamic of Hester by not making her the ugliest girl on any traction city... They sure took the feral out of that girl.

But by the ending of the movie, it's a believable enough relationship and leaves that nonsense with Rose saving Finn at the end of The Last Jedi in the sands of Crait...

The Heroes


You know how in Stranger Things, the guy that sings Sledgehammer sung Heroes by David Bowie?

That should be Anna Fang's theme song. Despite some hokey one-liners, the casting of Jihae is a triumph of the film.

In the novel, Fang was inspired by Han Solo from Star Wars and in this film, she treads those boards as a badass so well, she may as well star in the next couple of prequels...

Time will tell on that.

There's many a supporting player in ME that can be classed as a hero too.

Chudleigh Pomery (superbly played by Colin Salmon)

Yasmina

Captain Khora


Nihls, oh Nihls.

All just great characters and well played by the actors.

They all have a chance to shine and do so very well - indeed Fang's Anti-traction league team are possibly one of the most underrated crews to have flown in an airship in recent times.

Anna Fang, naturally gets a special mention in dispatches all of her own


In the novel, Anna Fang is a mysterious bad ass.

Sensing a fine character in the making, Peter Jackson kept her as less mysterious but upped the ante in the bass add department.

The character is great fun.

It was wonderful to see the books' Jenny Hanniver come to life. Piloted by Fang, the airship is a central part of all four original novels so it was great to see it in action, even if it's now powered to be as fast and deadly as an F14 Tomcat.

Jiahe's delivery of a few lines is pretty loose (which heads into Star Wars' I hate sand territory) but if you can get past that, you'll see Anna Fang is one of the hearts of the movie that pumps along quite nicely, especially with a triple powered shotgun in hand...

magnus chrome and valentine mortal engines


The Villains


Mrrrrr Anderrrrsooon.

That was my proper introduction to Hugo Weaving as the Agent in The Matrix.

A Lord of the Rings alumni, Peter Jackson and team clearly love working with the man and why wouldn't you want to when he can turn on a dime as Elrond or Agent Smith and become this horrible, horrible man.

Have you seen The Lovely Bones where Transformers alumni Stanley Tucci plays a horrible child killer? Every scene with Tucch was in felt like I was being violated by the mere force of his acting.

Weaving does the same thing here.

He's a fucking psycho yet he doesn't even know it. He thinks that he is the good guy in all of this.

Sure, he knows he's cut a few corners here and there or the odd young girl's faces or murdered his lover to get where he's going but he's done it all for London.

So it's OK then, you see?

Magnus Chrome, Mayor London. 

I expected good things but this was a kind of a by the numbers caricature of the character in a way.

Patrick Malahides's Chrome didn't feel like he was as dangerous as he did in the novel and the plot point change for this character doesn't help, but makes for a good movie.



mortal engines shrike green eyes

Shrike

Did you know a shrike is a bird that impales captured insects on cactus thorns? It's very helpful if you know this going into the film...

When you ask a man with the gravitas of Stephan Lang to play Shrike, you hope that this is a casting that will flow on perfectly into the sequel films...

And it is.

Shrike is perfectly played by Lang.

Judging from interviews with him prior to the film's release, he really got into the lore of the character (we suspect he read ALL the novels) and put his achting heart into a character that in many ways literally and figuratively has no heart (or does he?!)

Lang's green-eyed version of The Terminator is a chilling representation of what could be humanity's future: an embryonic cyborg where feelings might matter, but killing is a preference. Make no mistake though, this character is not a retread of a classic 1980's robot killer, it's a whole new take on love, which the film's ending sequences slowly reveal in a most poignant manner. It's like Peter Jackson has read the books or something...

I loved the look and feel of the character and the action sequences that featured Shrike are just bang on the money, and reason enough to see the film alone.

What about the look and feel of the movie?


Being a Peter Jackson produced film where all the elements of his empire in Miramar, Wellington, NZ have been brought to bear, you'd expect this film to be a CGI gore fest.

And yes it is just that, but frankly, that's probably why PJ wanted to do this movie as there has never been ANYTHING like this on screen before (Can all those people talking about Howl's Moving Castle now please quietly shuffle along?).

This movie's effects are arguably the best that Weta Digital have ever produced. I'm not an expert at all but I suspect they are certainly some of the most complicated, apes aside.

Let's talk London.

When London is framed as a hulking metal mass, the angles are so menacing. When starring up at the screen in the opening chase, I felt like I was about to get squashed by the damn thing.

How do you show and project a city that's 2.5 kilometers long chasing a smaller traction city? This is not Darth Vader's Executor ship in Empire that just sittings unmoving in space, this city needs contrast around it as otherwise how will you believe what you are seeing?

And: Holy Cow Batman >> when that city rolled by as I sat in my seat, I truly felt I was about to be monstered by 100000 tonnes of cold British Steel.

So, it looks great.

Shrike as a CGI motion capture is some fine work and gosh, the ending where the Medusa weapon comes alive is just magical.

Airhaven was a visual spectacle and seems like a fun place to hang out, despite it being a little too easy for robot assassins to turn up and try and kill everybody.

The soundtrack


The music of Mortal Engines is composed by Tom Holkenborg and it is simply superb. One of the things that has infuriated me about the development of Mortal Engines is the comparisons people make to Mad Max: Fury Road.

Mortal Engines is not Mad Max, it's just Mad, Max.

But they do now share a composer.

Holkenborg is clearly one talented composer. The film soars with his music as it needs and there's some crucial, heart breaking moments in the film where it feels like his music is the thing that is turning the dagger in one's heart.

So what's bad about it?


If we're to get critical for a moment, and remember, we are accepting this movie as just some big dumb fun!, the acting is pretty clunky in parts - have a think to some of the early Star Wars films and you're on the mark. Indeed, the film has some key plot points from Star Wars.

Some of Anna Fang's revelatory speech to Hester is a bit OTT

There's also several plot points that have been changed which have some drastic effects on the story - so much so that in the film premiere the author Philip Reeve had to pause to figure out what was happening.

This is basically to say, Mortal Engines the movie has a very different ending than the book, but it works, even if it sneaks a moment which allows Tom Natsworthy to pull a Lando Calrissian move out of the Return of the Jedi playbook cross with a bit of The Guns of Navarone.

Katherine Valentine - well played as a character but went simplynowheree in terms of plot, like you could cut the character (and Bevis) and have no consequnce to the ending of the movie, which is completely different to the ending of the novel. 

If you've followed this site, you'll know we lamented that Hester's scar was toned down from 11 to 4. We got over it and enjoyed Hera Hilmar's version of Hester for what it is. FUN. Not FERAL. FUN.

The verdict?

Mortal Engines is a fun ride, a visual treat to enjoy while you eat overpriced popcorn.

We rate it a strong 7.5 out of 10.

It features a lot of talent on screen and behind it. While it differs from the book in many ways, this feels like the best version of the world of Mortal Engines that we ever could expect to see on the silver screen. 

Christian Rivers has done a fine job on his first gig as director and should be commended for making a decent BIG DUMB FUN! film. 

Sadly it appears the movie is a box office flop, on the level of John Carter of Mars.

Ways the Mortal Engine movie is different from the book



How the Mortal Engines film is different from the book


To get a movie of a book made and onto the silver screen, the narrative of the 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

  • Salthook was renamed Saltzhaken
  • Anna Fang does not have red teeth

The Sheehab interviews Philip Reeve about his thoughts on the Mortal Engines film

Friday, November 30, 2018

Republished with the kind permission of The Sheehab, who are undoubtably & indisputably Robert Sheehan's best and biggest fans!

The Sheehab talks to the Mortal Engines Author Philip Reeve-Take Two


Last March Philip Reeve very kindly talked to us about his Mortal Engines books and his hopes for the film. We asked him at the time if he would talk to us again after he saw the film with whatever non-spoilery thoughts he could share. Thanks to Philip for sparing the time so soon after the premiere to answer our questions again.

How was the premiere and how did you feel seeing your book transferred to film?

PR: It was very fancy and on a huge screen - the IMAX screen at Cineworld, Leicester Square, so it was quite overwhelming.

Everyone looked extremely smart at the premiere, did you enjoy the evening?

PR: I was a bit nervous tbh, it’s not really my type of thing.

Hear you saw Mortal Engines twice. Do you think everyone should see it more than once?

PR: The first time was at the Premiere - it was on a massive screen & very spectacular,but I was slightly distracted by tracking the changes they’d made to the story world - it’s like an alternate universe Mortal Engines. I enjoyed it though!

On my second viewing I was able to ignore that and focus more on the details and the nuances, so think I liked it more. I spotted my cameo too, my son and I share the screen with Robbie (for about 0.5 seconds!).It was on a smaller screen, but it had Dolby Atmos sound which made me aware of how good the music and sound design is. Of course, everyone should see it as many times as possible.

You particularly mentioned Robert & Hera, Jihae and Stephen Lang as stand-outs in the film.They all seemed genuinely thrilled with the film and the story.That must be gratifying?

PR: Yes, I mean they are actors and I guess being excited about the project in Press Week is part of the job, but there does seem to be a genuine family feeling among the cast, I think they really bonded down in Wellington

Rob said in an interview that he thought he now knew who Tom Natsworthy was based on. Do you see much of yourself in Tom?

PR: Did he? I don’t know- Tom is just meant to be an ordinary person who’s caught up in the middle of this wild adventure with all these strange, extreme characters.I suppose I was imagining how I’d react in those situations,so there must be a bit of me in him.But there’s a bit of me in the others too, especially Hester.

Obviously we are all hoping for sequels to the film. If you had to summarise the film in a few words to encourage people to see it, what would you say?

PR: It’s a huge and exciting new world, lots of exciting action, but it has a heart, it’s surprisingly moving. Christian Rivers and his team have done an amazing job.

If you had to sum up your response to the film in one word what would it be?

PR: Phew!

Apart from the fact that Tom and Hester have been ‘aged up’ do you think Rob and Hera are good representatives of your Tom and Hester? Did you talk to them about their characters when you first met them on set?

PR: They’d already been shooting for about a month when I visited, so I think they knew their characters pretty well. The ‘ageing up’ doesn’t bother me at all- it’s their status that defines them, not their age, and that hasn’t changed. Tom’s still a lowly apprentice, Hester’s an outcast. They’re not the characters from the book and I wouldn’t expect them to be, but there are plenty of similarities.

Robbie is much more attractive than book-Tom, both in looks and personality, but he still managed to capture Tom’s awkwardness, and he’s very funny at times-little physical moments, a sort of earnestness.

There’s a bit where he puts himself between Hester and another character and says ‘I’ll handle this’ which is just perfect- because we know that a) he can’t handle it and b) Hester’s perfectly capable of looking after herself. He’s very loveable.

Two more things, when did you first fall in love with writing and would you be up for a cameo again in a sequel?

PR: I guess I was 6 or 7 when I first fell in love with writing. And yes, I’d do another cameo- I’m holding out for a full second next time!

Thanks to Philip Reeve for taking the time to talk to us again. Please go and see the film as many times as you like and remember he has several other books in the Mortal Engines series available to buy.

Philip Reeve enjoyed the movie of his book!


Which is great because imagine how one would feel if one hated it! And trust us, there's a tired road of book authors who hated what Hollywood did to their movies... so this is great news.

Here's what Reeve had to say of Christian River's version of Mortal Engines.

"Well, it IS. Christian, writer/producers Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, and the rest of the (huge) team have done a fantastic job. They’ve made a lot of changes to the world, characters, and themes of the book, (and the weather is nicer) but it’s still basically the same story.

The opening twenty minutes or so are essentially what I wrote all those years ago, and even when it takes its own path later on there are lots of moments and images which come straight from the book (like the valley littered with smashed cities in front of the Shield Wall, and the glorious vertical city on its far side). 

All the sets and costumes seem to have been designed by people who know the books at least as well as I do. The effects are, as you’d expect, utterly convincing.

The film has a kind of family resemblance to The Lord of the Rings movies, as you’d expect, but it’s shorter than any of those (about two hours, plus credits). It reminded me of the original Star Wars too (no surprise there, the opening models ANH and Anna Fang is based on Han Solo - ED). 

It’s tremendously well paced; intense action sequences come at you pretty regularly but don’t hang around long enough to outstay their welcome, and they’re punctuated by quieter bits which are often surprisingly affecting.

That’s partly thanks to the actors, who are amazingly good. Robbie Sheehan is much more attractive and good-looking than Tom is in the book, so I hadn’t expected much resemblance, but somehow he still manages to suggest a bit of Tom’s well-meaning uselessness – there are some lovely bits where he manfully tries to put himself between Hester and danger, as if Hera Hilmar’s fierce, competent Hester needs his help. 

Everything Jihae does as Anna Fang is perfect. 

My only worry about Stephen Lang’s Shrike is that he might be too scary: he’s terrifying at times, but the flashbacks to Hester’s childhood are beautiful (and the fact that he does the opening narration is a cute touch for anyone who’s read all the way to the end of A Darkling Plain).

Hugo Weaving is great as a more villainous Valentine, Leila George and Ronan Raftery make a glamorous Katherine and a smouldering, non-bald Bevis. Colin Salmon is a great Chudleigh Pomeroy, Patrick Malahide is pure patrician class as Crome, and Sophie Cox makes a very chipper Clytie Potts.

Regé Jean Page, Menik Gooneratne, Frankie Adams, Leifur Sigurdarson are the gang of aviators we watched at work in the Gasbag & Gondola when I visited the set last year: the long days of filming have yielded only a few minutes of screen time, but they still manage to impress. I wish we saw more of them, but then I wish we saw more of all these characters – fingers crossed for some sequels.

Inevitably lots of scenes and characters from my version get left out completely, or reduced to a passing mention, but hopefully the film will send lots of people to the books, and they can find them there."

Having observed Mr Reeve in action of the last few years, we know he is absolutely genuine in his online dealings so what here's saying here is all his real views and not spin for the sake of promoting the movie. 

Reeve's working partner Sarah McIntyre, had a great time at the London Premiere!

That should go straight to the pool room!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018
mortal engines ticket signed by peter jackson


Lucky biamino7 got to attended the London Mortal Engines premiere tonight - and got her ticket stamped by NZ's favourite Hobbit, Sir Peter Jackson!

11 reasons why Mortal Engines could suck

Friday, November 23, 2018

If we're being honest with ourselves there's a few things that could go wrong with Mortal Engines. 


There's a lot of factors and variables why the movie could suck. I've put together a list of the possisble reasons why:

  • The pop corn could be quite expensive
  • Someone next to you could fart excessively and often
  • It's too loud
  • You go blind at its majesty
  • You have a heart attack
  • You get caught sneaking in MacDonalds
  • You have to take your mother in law
  • The movie projector stops working
  • It rains on the way to the theatre and you get your hair a little wet
  • The trailers go on a bit too long
  • You eat your expensive pop corn too quickly

Those who have seen Mortal Engines say it's epic!!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

mortal engines poster
There's been some nervous fans, sifting through the tea leaves trying to figure out if Mortal Engines will be any good.

This fear of failure was because the first trailer was a bit hokey and come across as a Young Adult film like Twilight or The Maze Runner.

Adapting a crazy book about giant cities roving the country side eating each other is a bit of a gamble in Hollywood so it's pleasing to see that early exit reports of those leaving preview showings of the film are very positive.

Here's what some lucky folks who have seen the film in previews have to say:

Richard Hill, a featured extra saw it with the Weta crew:

"I was lucky enough to see an advance screening of Mortal Engines today. It was epic, vast and very cool. It does not disappoint. See it in a good cinema, you'll be pleased you did!"

Dane Illfield got to see it in Sydney:

" But in short: the film is fantastic. It has a strong emotional core to back up the extraordinary visuals and cinematography. I'd also say it's the most original and creative film released this year"

Magnificant Giraffe posted on Reddit:

"I was really impressed with the movie. its pretty much a fantasy version of the Star Wars OT in terms of story yet i wasn't bored. the screenplay isn't brilliant but it was serviceable. the visual effects are incredible, when they fire the super weapon at the end it blew me away. All the Air battles were awesome too.

Overall id give it a 7.5/10, i'm really surprised by it and it should be seen purely for the visual effects (although the plot and character did interest me)"

Sonya chipped in on Twitter:

"Had a great night at Sydney premier of #MortalEngines last night- an epic ride!"

Henry had a diss at the advertising because he enjoyed it:

"Saw mortal engines and it is really good, the advertising does it a great disservice. Well worth a watch!"

Greg also thinks it's epic:

"So privileged to have seen the pre-screening of #MortalEngines and a very subtle homage to Bowie I slipped in there. Such an EPIC film - can't wait to see it again."

I've also read that Shrike is too scary for kids so that sounds great! I have not seen a bad word about said about the film by anyone who has seen it!

Sounds like everything is coming up Millhouse!

↠ What are Stalkers and the Shrike in Mortal Engines?

Monday, November 19, 2018

What are the Stalker Soldiers in Mortal Engines?

CAUTION: EPIC SPOILERS BELOW FOR BOTH BOOK AND FILM


The Stalkers of Mortal Engines are a kind of 'universal soldier' combatant that can be programmed for warfare and assassination.

Stalkers and their variations play various parts in each of Philip Reeve's Quartet of Mortal Engines, Predator's Gold, Infernal Devices and A Darkling Plain.

What are the origins of the Stalkers?


Stalkers originally were designed as mechanisms for humans to transfer their consciousness from one body to another, thus defeating death. The human mind could literally be saved to hard drive and then transferred into the body of another human.

It was post the 60 Minute War that the technology was adapted to make Stalkers into emotionless monsters to serve at the whim of their masters.

Often referred to as 'Resurrected Men' Stalkers were originally were built by the Nomadic Empires that battled each other across the volcano maze of what was once Europe long before the Traction Cities Era began.

The Nomadic Empires built Stalkers by recovering dead bodies from the battlefields, placing them in laboratories and then bringing them back 'life' by using 'Old Tech' machines that were physically connected to the dead body's nervous system. This practiced continued on unto the Traction City Era.

The bodies were also operated on so internal organs that were no longer necessary. The designers also would graft on a metal carapace to the body. Weapons could be implanted into the body and the use of claws was a common feature.

The best subjects were taller specimens and they looked a scary site with their glowing green eyes that all Stalkers had.

Stalkers are generally considered emotionless automatons, only acting at the will of their Masters.

Once a dead human is resurrected as a Stalker, they have no feelings, display no emotions and they will not have any memory of who they were before they died. Any past memories are jumbled messes and lost glimpses of their former life.

In Mortal Engines, the City of London manufactures its own Stalkers.

The London Guild of Engineers builds new Stalkers from dead prison convicts at their experimental prison in the Deep Gut. These particular Stalkers are not considered as refined as the infamous 'Shrike' due to use of less sophisticated stalker-brains, the devices used in the brains and nerves of Stalkers.

The origins of these Resurrected Men, begin to be explained in the first prequel in the Mortal Engines series, Fever Crumb.

shrike grike mortal engines


What is the Shrike in Mortal Engines?


The 'Shrike' was the first Stalker to be mentioned in the original Mortal Engines book.

His character was under the control of the Mayor of London Traction City, Magnus Chrome. Chrome used the Shrike to find Hester Shaw and Tom Natsworthy and he was ordered to kill them.

At face level this seemed a straight forward plot point however it was later revealed that The Shrike had once looked after Hester in a past life.

Due to his emotionally retarded state, his own goal in life was turn Hester into a Stalker as well, so they could live together forever.

In terms of memory retention, Shrike appears to be the exception to the rule as was able to recall his past life as 'Kit Solent' shortly before his death at the hands of Tom Natsworthy by sword. Kit Solent's tale and how he became a Stalker of the Lazarus Brigade in the prequel novel, Fever Crumb.

In the film Shrike is played by veteran actor Stephan Lang - you may remember him as the evil general in Avatar.

Are Stalkers invulnerable?


Stalkers are heavily protected their armour and but invulnerable to small arms fire and hand-held weaponry.

Due to their 'programming' they do not feel any pain as their nervous systems are rendered. This means they are pretty handy in hand to hand combat as even if their opponent is able to stab them or cause injury, they will not feel it and be able to continue to fight and thus increasing their chances of winning.

In Mortal Engines, Tom Natsworthy did manage to kill the Shrike Stalker with a sword by impaling it through his neck. The Shrike was suffering from some performance issues as he'd actually been run over by a Traction City!

hester and shrike

But there's a reason Stalkers are known as Resurrected Men....

Anna Fang as a Stalker in the sequel novels


In Mortal Engines, Anaa Fang was Tom and Hester's rescuer from the Shrike when he originally caught up with them on Airhaven.

Despite her herorics, Fang was ultimately killed by the dastardly Thaddeus Valentine in a sword fight.

In Predator's Gold it was revealed that a splinter group of the famed Anti Traction League called Green Storm had recovered Fang's body and applied the Stalker Resurrection techniques to it.

Green Storm had intended that the revived Anna Fang would lead them in battle against the remaining Traction Cities.

Eventually the resurrected Fang stalker would take part in many battles and features in Infernal Devices and A Darkling Plain where her character wreaks some pretty spectacular havoc using the ODIN device.

The Shrike concept art from Mortal Engines
Shrike fan art


Extra for Experts (spoilers):
  • Stalkers are sometimes referred to as 'Jaegers'
  • All Stalkers have green glowing eyes
  • Stalker tech can be used on animals such as birds and even whales
  • In some American versions of Mortal Engines Shrike is named 'Grike'.
  • Shrike is named after the bird of the same name.
  • Shrike is actually the narrator of the Mortal Engines books as discovered in the final paragraph of A Darkling Plain. 

Why Stephen Fry should play Professor Pennyroyal in the Mortal Engines sequel

stephen fry gosford park

If you take the Mortal Engines novel as a singular book, it is a grand adventure set literally on the tracks of giant traction citites.

It sets up a world of wonder and opened up a realm of possibilties for future story telling and the success of Mortal Engines led to Philip Reeve being able to write a sequel, Predator's Gold

That book, steps up the action, steps up the pain and steps up the comedy gold with the introduction of Professor Nimrod Pennyroyal. 

On paper, this character is a cliched sterotype that any seasonsed reader can see a mile off. Except Reeve managed to imbue Pennyroyal with such a nagging charm that the character feels wholly real. 

Pennyroyal is a player, a book writer who talls tall tales about his adventures around the world. He makes himself out to be the hero when he's a coward. He makes himself out to be a the man of the world and in a fake-it-till-you-make-it style of living, he's been painting the town red. 

So should the Mortal Engines film be hit a genuine hit and give rise to a sequel, it would seem only natural that the good Professor should have a role to play. 

But who could capture this fellow? 

Enter Stephen Fry. 

Stephen Fry is a marvel. A national treasure in the UK, he's a sucessful writer, actor and all round good guy

And he would be perfect. 

He's got the charm, the confidence and the talent to play the part.

Did you ever see Fry as the dectective in Gosford Park? He was brilliant as the dectective with an ego writing cheques he his ego could never cash. 

If Fry channelled those instincts into Pennyroyal, the character would come to life.

The beauty of this casting suggestion is that Fry has an existing working relationship with Peter Jackon. He featured in two Hobbit films and wrote the script for the as yet unrealised remake of The Dam Busters. 

Peter Jackson loves to surround himself with talent he's used before (see Hugo Weaving as Valentine and all the LOTR films) so if he's fond of a fry up, Stephen is his Professor.

As a fun aside, check out our April Fool's hoax involving Pennyroyal.

TV promo spots for Mortal Engines are so hot, 'they're playing with fire'


Several televisison spots have been released to promote Mortal Engines.

We lead with Valentine suggesting the kids are 'playing with fire'.



This second one features a line change where Hester has a turn:



This third one features Sir Peter Jackson waxing lyrical over the movie:



Personally we feel the marketing should focuss very heavily on Shrike as many punters are starting to see this as a boring old youth love story.


Actor Richard Mills says Mortal Engines is 'epic, vast and very cool'

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Wellington actor Richard Mills had a fair bit of time on the set of Mortal Engines as an extra.

Based on his post to the Mortal Engines is a work of genius Facebook group, it appears the cast and crew have had a screening just for them:

Mills said in a soundbite review: "I was lucky enough to see an advance screening of Mortal Engines today. It was epic, vast and very cool. It does not disappoint. See it in a good cinema, you'll be pleased you did!"

Looks like everything is coming up Milhouse!

Have you seen this woman?

Friday, November 16, 2018
hester shaw wanted poster

Looks like the city of London has an issue with Hester Shaw!

Poster supplied by the official Mortal Engines Facebook page when you take part in the game with the mysterious Antonia Critt.

Philip Reeve - 'The Illustrated World of Mortal Engines'

Wednesday, November 14, 2018
the illustrated world of mortal engines

As a tie-in of sorts to the Mortal Engines movie, author Philip Reeve has published 'The Illustrated World of Mortal Engines'.

This work is to a super-dooper rework of The Traction Codex which was published some years ago as an e-book with collaborator Jeremy Levett. Levett is back again for this more comprehensive exploration of the world of traction cities. 

Reeve said of the work:

"With the Mortal Engines movie looming, it seemed a good opportunity to revise and expand the old Mortal Engines Codex, which had a very patchy e-book release a few years ago.

Jeremy Levett knows far more about history and technology than I ever will, and he’s come up with an impressively plausible account of the centuries which separate the Fever Crumb books from the beginning of Mortal Engines, as well as lots of extra details about the cities, airships and characters who inhabit the books. 

There are glimpses of what the Traction era means for Australia, South America, and other bits of the world my stories never managed to encompass.

The book features the artwork of many well-known concept art designers including Ian McQue who recently redid all the covers for the original book series, David Wyatt and Amir Zand.

Jeremy Levett did an Ask Me Anything Session on Reddit about the guide.

it's important to note this work expands on the canon of the novels and does not necessarily tie into the movie version of the original book.

Here are some images from the book:

David Wyatt's version of Air Haven:

david whyatt airhaven concept art

Amir Zand's effort at a predator city:

amir zand predator city




The artwork above is some concept work that Ian did when he was inspired by the Mortal Engines book AND seemingly before he had a working relationship with Philip Reeve! I like how life works out!

Order your copy from Amazon now!

Moving Cities featurette reveals Magnus Chrome

Tuesday, November 13, 2018
magnus chrome mayor london

One month to go till the release of Mortal Engines and the featurettes are popping up like Pokemon.

Gotta catch 'em all so here's the Moving Cities featurette, with a first look at Magnus Chrome, the mayor of London.

Chrome is played by Patrick Malahide.



"Run it down!"
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