Every year we continuously seem to see some sort of YA (young adult) novel adapted into a feature film, they're often flat, uninteresting or derivative films that leave fans of the novels simply disappointed. Unfortunately ‘Mortal Engines’ is no different. With regards to positive messages or role models, there is very little to be said, thanks to the superficial nature of the film that simply sees characters behave like action heroes, exhibiting little to no human emotion or actual character development.
The plot streamlines much of the novel’s original plot but maintains the significant relevant story elements. The film essentially sees main characters Hester Shaw and Tom pitted against menacing ‘hero’ Thaddeus Valentine in a post apocalyptic wasteland ruled by moving cities that roam the earth and constantly focus on Darwinistic ideals. Personally I feel that the issue with the plot is that it is largely too familiar and derivative borrowing many story beats that will ultimately remind you of other famous science fiction or fantasy movies. The over familiarity also does little except perpetuate boredom and dull stares at another movie simply retreading the lands you've walked before. The characters are also greatly uninteresting and quite frankly so little to capture the interest and heart of audiences-instead choosing to just try and look cool while jumping off exploding structures (even Michael Bay probably knows this is dumb by now). The actors seem genuinely uninterested in the being in the film and almost come off as if they would rather be asleep or just doing anything but being in this film. I can't even possibly blame them, especially with the sort of lines they've been given. The writing goes beyond ‘cheesy’ and veers right into ‘bad’ territory, not even so bad that it's good, it's just robotic and unemotive.
In spite of the many, many shortcomings of ‘Mortal Engines’ I can admit that the art direction is well done. The costumes and set design help create the steampunk-esque style and direction that is carried out effectively. But alas it is quite on the nose with its use of imagery and color, frankly disappointing considering that the director of this worked on the ‘Lord Of The Rings’ trilogy as an art director.
‘Mortal Engines’ is one you can definitely afford to miss. Not seeing an uninspired, messy and robotic film mashed together with a mess of CGI is not going to make you lose out on anything. You're better off watching a Christmas classic this season.