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!"

Anna Fang's 'in movie' wanted poster is from ... the movie

Saturday, November 10, 2018
If you've spied that the Mortal Engines marketing has tracked up a notch, you'd be right and you may have seen this shot of Palt's Yard Dairy which supplies the city of London with cheese derived from algae.

palt's yard dairy mortal engines


Check out the picture of the wanted picture of Anna Fang on the video screen on the top right. Anna Fang is a spy and leader in the Anti Traction League and if you've read Night Flights or the original novel, you'll know she's no friend of London.

So having a wanted video of Anna Fang all makes sense.

What makes little sense is that the shot of Anna appears to be from within the actual movie, not at a time in the past.

See, here's a movie shot of Anna as played by Jihae:

anna fang played by jihae mortal engines

It would seem a shot similar to this has been used by the production team for the Palt's Dairy warning sign - however, it's of Anna in 'movie real time' - presumably, the shot was supposed to be a warning for people prior to the events of the movie. Thus it's kind of an anachronism.

I could be wrong, Anna could stand around all day on London for pictures wearing the same coat with the collar in the same position against her neck, the same undergarment, and same glasses every time she visits London...

Or of course it could be a real time warning but where's the fun in that... we also know Anna often wears a red coat...

How the opening of the Mortal Engines film is basically the start of Star Wars

When I was a young lad my dad brought home a copy of a film called Star Wars.

I knew nothing about this movie and I had no idea what I was about to see.

As you probably know, the film famously starts with a chase. Darth Vader's Star Destroyer is chasing Princess Leia's Tantive IV in a bid to regain the plans to the Death Star.

It was amazing and left a lasting impression on myself and many a viewer due to the size of what was been shown - the ship was massive in comparison to the smaller ship.

I could not help notice how director Christian Rivers appears to have made an homage or reference to Stars Wars in the Mortal Engines trailer. We, of course, are assuming the trailer is the start of the movie, based on the first page of the book (and its famous first line)

Here's how the Star Wars opening plays out:






The trailer for Mortal Engines is also a chase, one that mirrors the iconic Star Wars start in that the traction city of Salthook is framed by itself, wheels blazing just like the lonely Tantive IV.

Then, the city of London, slowly but surely comes into screen, showing that the chase is on, consuming the entire screen, just as it wants to consume Salthook.








Sure there are some differences between the ME film trailer and the opening of Star Wars such as the two eyed Hester Shaw inter-cuts but the concept and referencing or homage is absolutely there!

Mortal Engines itself is no stranger to Star Wars - the character of Anna Fang was in part inspired by by Han Solo! 
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