Community › Forums › THE MAIN SEWER › Focused Film Discussion › MORTAL ENGINES pre-release
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

MORTAL ENGINES pre-release

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 

I know it is too early to start this thread, it doesn't come out until December 14, 2018 and there's been nary a mention of a teaser trailer any time in the near future, but I can't help it. I will talk about it all by myself if I have to.


I have not read all of the Mortal Engines quadrilogy by Philip Reeve, but the first book is great. It does fit into the whole post-apocalyptic YA novel genre that we have now (but predates all the popular ones, Reeve wrote this back in 2001), but unlike a lot of those it's an intensely clever, British kind of lit that has as much wit and imagination as it does a bleak sort of edge. It's basically British steampunk but with all kinds of desolation surrounding the roving urban centers. And it does have a very bleak edge underneath all the wry humory and mordant whimsy (reminds of Terry Gilliam and something like Brazil). The world is essentially dying and at odds with itself and man do a lot of people and characters die, just in the first book alone.


Reeve came up with this idea for "Municipal Darwinism," which rises after the "Sixty-Minute War" basically leaves the earth scorched and all the earth's town and cities have become mobile behemoths in order to survive, scavenging for resources. And the bigger/stronger cities prey on the weaker/smaller ones. This sounds like the makings of a story that would be equal parts ridiculous and dour, but the narrative that Reeve puts together is very colorful and engaging while maintaining an impressive sense of high drama and stakes. Kind of a perfect fit for Peter Jackson production! As long as it's not 3 hours long!


PJ's long-time storyboard/previz/FX/splinter unit director Christian Rivers (said to be largely responsible for the dwarf barrel scene, which I loved, and who was also second unit director on Pete's Dragon) is making his full-length directorial debut. Peter Jackson wrote and is co-producing with his frequent collaborators, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens.


It's a $100 million budget, which may not seem like quite enough to anyone who has read the book, but I think they will be able to make it stretch given that they shot in NZ and they're probably getting "the family rate" on the visual effects from Weta Digital (and I'm sure Rivers' FX background helped in how they executed during production). It's being financed the same way The Dark Tower was, a co-venture between Universal and MRC. I imagine the studios will try to be as smart and efficient as possible about marketing the thing. There are no big name actors in the film and the property is not that highly recognized outside of the UK, so they need to get the word out without spending a ton of money on doing so. And they won't have the benefit of throwing a name like Stephen King's in their ads (not that that helped them all that much with The Dark Tower).


Anyways, after the disappointment of The Hobbit (which I was somewhat on-board with until the final movie made it abundantly clear that all the bloat had been a giant waste of time--and then threw more bloat on top of that... ALFRID, ugh) I am excited to see a Peter Jackson team tackling a lesser known and extremely quirky property with less franchise pressures and that is more befitting the approach they might bring to it. I am also somewhat excited about just the fact that they ARE on a budget. They got to do whatever they wanted with The Hobbit, and it showed, unfortunately. Sometimes limitations and constraints are a good thing, and I think Christian has the tools to execute this type of movie with the kind of experienced and talented crew that Peter Jackson can put around him. 


I am also really quite excited about this cast, the casting team were very inspired in how they approached this. It is a very low-key cast, and I think there will be some discoveries here for a lot of people. No doubt this helped keep the cost down, but I also think it is appropriate for the type of movie being made. It can't and shouldn't be a star vehicle (it is just going to present some challenges for the marketing team, to be sure). Hugo Weaving is the most recognizable name, and his role is a big one and a great one. I can't wait to see him as Thaddeus Valentine. The actual protagonist of the books, Tom Natsworthy, will be played by Robert Sheehan (who you can see most recently in GEOSTORM), and it's really an inspired choice. A very interesting looking fellow, handsome in a weird way, with a strong screen presence. He's had a good amount of experience acting from assorted indie films and British TV. Oh, and GEOSTORM, of course. Check him out in Season 2 of Fortitude, he's fantastic. I think his career will blow up a tad after this movie comes out. And then Hera Hilmar will be the other main character as the bitter and maimed Hester Shaw, a GREAT character, probably the favorite character for readers of the books... and Hera was another incredibly inspired casting pick by the producers and casting team. She is really, really quite good (and like Sheehan has a lot of experience from indies and TV), and I think also brings the right type of physical presence to the character. There has to be something almost magnetic about Hester at the same time that she's not exactly pretty (especially not after the make-up artists are done with her). The international, multi-ethnic cast is filled with good, interesting picks, though: Jihae as rogue airship pilot Anna Fang, Patrick Malahide as the dryly sinister Magnus Crome, the venerable Colin Salmon as blustery historian Chudleigh Pomeroy, Ronan Raftery, Rege-Jean Page, Kee Chan, Frankie Adams, Caren Pistorius, Menik Gooneratne, Sarah Peirse, Kahn West, Yoson An... and Stephen Lang as a decrepit, ruthless cyborg named Shrike. Which, really, is the perfect role for Stephen Lang. But yeah, it's definitely going to be one of those movies where you'll be like "I don't know this person's name but I've seen them before in something and they're surprisingly good!"


Uh, yeah, so clearly... I'm excited. And will return to this thread six months or whatever from now to link the first trailer, lol.


Here's the first piece of concept art from the film:


Image result for mortal engines concept art

post #2 of 29
Thread Starter 

Disclaimer: I am also a bit of a PJ fanboy. LotR, Heavenly Creatures, and Dead Alive all rank in my Top 100 films ever. I like The Frighteners probably a bit more than I should. I like King Kong just the right amount, which is a lot (yes, it is longer than it needs to be, but it's a really good movie, guys!). The only films of his that I can find almost no redeeming value in are Meet the Feebles and The Lovely Bones (an okay book but, boy, should never have been made into a movie, especially not a movie by post-LotR Peter Jackson). 


So I'm really fascinated to see a film like this, which he is still heavily involved in since he is one of the main writers and producers, but handing the directing reins over to one of his prodigies. I am desperately hoping that it provides something of a course correct for PJ. At his best he is one of our most complete genre filmmakers who gives us great setpieces and delightful storytelling. At his worst he is an indulgent sycophant who gives us hours of accomplished but excessive nonsense.

post #3 of 29
I had no idea this was something coming out. I didn't know a thing about it until your post.

I'd like to be able to go into something like this with a clean slate! And Christian Rivers seems like someone who has more than earned a shot at directing a feature by this point.
post #4 of 29

Hadn't heard of this, but it sounds interesting. 

Edited by MrSaxon - 10/21/17 at 11:05am
post #5 of 29
Jackson not directing this is kind of weird, given how it seems to be a standard Jackson project in every other respect and he doesn’t appear to have much else going on. Did The Hobbit really burn him out that much?
post #6 of 29

Probably just trying to give his protege a shot at making his first feature.

post #7 of 29
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by mcnooj82 View Post

I had no idea this was something coming out. I didn't know a thing about it until your post.

I'd like to be able to go into something like this with a clean slate! And Christian Rivers seems like someone who has more than earned a shot at directing a feature by this point.


Yeah, PJ has had the rights for years and years, since like 2009 or something. Him, Fran, and Philippa did a couple of drafts of the script, then did a couple more before getting the greenlight last fall. Prepoduction went from then into spring and the movie was shot over the summer. It's gonna be a post-heavy movie, to be sure, I don't think they even shot much outside of the studio, so it's good that they have over a year to work on that.

post #8 of 29
Originally Posted by Paul C View Post

Jackson not directing this is kind of weird, given how it seems to be a standard Jackson project in every other respect and he doesn’t appear to have much else going on. Did The Hobbit really burn him out that much?

Wow I didn't know about this thread but pretty much just asked a few minutes ago what Peter Jackson was up to, and whether or not the experience of The Hobbit trilogy soured him on directing anything for a long while in the Indy 5 thread.


Thanks for the head's up, wasp.

post #9 of 29
Thread Starter 

Not a lot of articles out there about the movie yet, but here's one from Wired where the author got to visit the set:


Jihae is so perfectly cast as Anna Fang it kind of makes my spine tingle. Which is how I feel about a lot of these casting decisions. Sheehan, Hilmar, Weaving, Lang, Malahide, Salmon... these people are gonna own their roles. Which makes me flash back to LotR and what an exceptional job this team did casting that ensemble. Which makes think about the LotR movies and reflect on how rarely we get big epic blockbuster adventures that work on as many levels as those movies worked--especially Fellowship of the Ring. Which makes me want to watch FotR again and, like, cry about how good it is.


I was reading through the old FotR reviews the other day. That was truly something special when that movie came out. It had been a loooooooong time since we'd had a blockbuster genre picture that was anywhere near that level of excellence in terms of the core narrative, the storytelling of the filmmakers, the characters and the actors that brought them to life so incredibly well and played off each other that perfectly, technical merits and artistry, a memorable and instant classic score, etc. Drew McWeeny's review is a piece I think about a lot. It's very personal and informal and messy but, man, you can feel his pure love for the movie.


I know Mortal Engines is not going to be that. I loved the book but the story doesn't have the same mythic power or kind of elegant (if looong) flow to it that Tolkien's work had. But I am hoping beyond hope that we can see some of that old Wingnut magic, once again.

post #10 of 29

I was at a pub quiz in Miramar (where the whole Stone Street studios/Weta/Wingnut stuff is based).


They had a copy of the book (hardback, 1st Edition) signed by Peter Jackson and the two kids.  Thing went for $750 at auction.  Madness.

post #11 of 29
Thread Starter 

Two kids meaning Sheehan and Hilmar?


That's cool!

post #12 of 29
I'm not sure

I just remember it was the two young stars.

Other auctions they had was a rugby ball signed by the All Blacks and an extremely limited edition Flight of the Conchords tour poster signed by Brett and Jemaine. Quiz was a fund raiser for a Miramar Primary school. Pretty well connected school!
post #13 of 29
Oh this sounds interesting. Thanks for the heads up.
post #14 of 29
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by mcnooj82 View Post

 And Christian Rivers seems like someone who has more than earned a shot at directing a feature by this point.


Worst case scenario, it'll be his Sky Captain.





post #15 of 29
Thread Starter 

So apparently a very brief teaser trailer is incoming this month:


Sounds like it will likely be attached to some screenings of The Last Jedi. Given the movie is a year off and probably not much of the VFX work is complete, I am not hoping for much. Probably some title cards, "From the filmmakers of LotR," and maybe like one brief glimpse of footage.


And yet, even so, I am stoked.

post #16 of 29

Looking forward to it!


You've done a good job getting me amped for this project, Wasp. I wouldn't have taken much notice of it, especially this early in its development, but I'm really looking forward to seeing how it turns out now. 

post #17 of 29

wasp has made me excited for this project about which I knew nothing only a few weeks ago!

post #18 of 29
Thread Starter 

on Facebook Peter Jackson confirmed that this teaser will be attached to The Last Jedi.


good move.

post #19 of 29

Hopefully this will be much better than Jackson's last book adaptation.

post #20 of 29
Thread Starter 

word to that.


been waiting a long time for something to wash the Bo5A taste out of my mouth.

post #21 of 29
Thread Starter 

anyone see this tonight, I'd love to hear your thoughts.


saw a description on Twitter that sounded pretty damn cool and effective. in theory.

post #22 of 29
I thought it looked really cool and thought of you!

It looked like Zodanga chasing Howl's Moving Castle!
post #23 of 29
Thread Starter 



I read a description on Twitter and was very much "YASS." your comparison has me amped even more. I sure do hope I get it in front of my screening of TLJ. might even have to pull the ultimate nerd move: "um, yes, movie theater person, can you tell me what trailers you have in front of your so-and-so showing of The Last Jedi?"


also saw a reaction on Twitter where the person clearly had no idea what they were seeing (which will be 99.5% of the people who see the trailer) and was like "it looks like Mad Max but weird and unintentionally funny." but the books definitely have their own weird sense of humor, so that got me excited, too. and I was hoping that the creative team would take some cues from the Mad Max movies.

post #24 of 29
I definitely heard someone in the audience go "huh? what was that?"
post #25 of 29

I loved how the trailer lingered on "From Producer Peter Jackson" and then whipped through the credits so quickly you couldn't read who actually directed it.


Knowing absolutely nothing about the property, I did enjoy the premise and scope of this, even if it did remind me a little too much of this:


post #26 of 29
directed by


post #27 of 29
Thread Starter 

haha, yeah, Peter Jackson is gonna be about the only recognizable touchstone for most people on this thing.






FROM the second unit director of PETE'S DRAGON




People You Don't Know





post #28 of 29
Thread Starter 

leaky leak:




I guess a Christian Rivers movie might be like an early, pre-LOTR Peter Jackson movie with a 100 million budget. I am way down for that. love the Mad Max meets anime vibe.


CG is obviously in early stages in some shots, thought I expect the movie will probably have plenty of dodgy CGI given how much it will have and the budget. but man this thing looks dope.


Hera Hilmar in this trailer wins the award for best eyes-acting since Hardy in Dunkirk!

post #29 of 29
Thread Starter 

and the leak is down now...


seriously, Universal, just post the damn thing already.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Focused Film Discussion Community › Forums › THE MAIN SEWER › Focused Film Discussion › MORTAL ENGINES pre-release