Philip Reeve enjoyed the movie of his book!

Friday, November 30, 2018

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.

RegĂ© 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!

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