Mortal Engines

Critics Consensus

Mortal Engines has no shortage of eye-catching special effects, but lacks enough high-octane narrative fuel to give this futuristic fantasy sufficient cinematic combustion.



Total Count: 179


Audience Score

User Ratings: 3,665
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Movie Info

Hundreds of years after civilization was destroyed by a cataclysmic event, a mysterious young woman, Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar), emerges as the only one who can stop London -- now a giant, predator city on wheels -- from devouring everything in its path. Feral, and fiercely driven by the memory of her mother, Hester joins forces with Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan), an outcast from London, along with Anna Fang (Jihae), a dangerous outlaw with a bounty on her head.


Hugo Weaving
as Thaddeus Valentine
Hera Hilmar
as Hester Shaw
Robert Sheehan
as Tom Natsworthy
as Anna Fang
Ronan Raftery
as Bevis Pod
Leila George
as Katherine Valentine
Patrick Malahide
as Magnus Crome
Colin Salmon
as Chudleigh Pomeroy
Kee Chan
as Governor Khan
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Critic Reviews for Mortal Engines

All Critics (179) | Top Critics (32) | Fresh (48) | Rotten (131)

Audience Reviews for Mortal Engines

  • Oct 08, 2019
    What's wrong with Mortal Engines? It's that it seems so like other films released within the last 2-3 years that it's easy to dismiss as derivative, but this is a wunderkind of originality. Impressive world-building, characters you care about, and action surprises enough for any 14 year old, this will be a gem people come to revisit time and again.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Jun 09, 2019
    OK so let me start this review by explaining my initial thoughts on this movie and its basic premise. As I'm sure many are aware the basic idea in this movie is how civilisation has crumbled after a devasting war and the remaining humans have, for some reason, decided to mount all the remaining cities on wheels so they can 'drive them around' so to speak. Well although this sounds cool on paper (in a kind of [i]GamesWorkshop[/i] related way) I also found it to be simply ludicrous. Obviously I know this is based on a fantasy novel and the entire concept is outlandish science-fiction, but really? So firstly I would have to ask how the feck mankind is supposed to have put their cities onto such huge chassis. This would mean they would have had to dig up famous landmarks (such as St. Paul's in London), load them onto the chassis, and then somehow fix them in place to said chassis. I then found myself asking what about the rest of London? How did they decide what to save? Are all the other buildings custom made for the new London-on-wheels or have they also been dug up and planted on the chassis? I then found myself asking the most fundamental question (I think). What is the actual point in building (or putting) a city on wheels? How does that benefit the city? I mean yeah sure you could move it to the coast in the summer but it just seems so utterly stupid. Just looking at these things they look so fragile, vulnerable, and in one case completely top heavy. A neat fantasy idea for a cool image and again it sounds wicked on paper, but when you actually see it in live action and try to think about it logically it raises [b]so[/b] many questions. Also the fact that mankind has done this after an apocalyptic event really makes little sense. Not to mention the fact they still seem to have a lot of technology, materials, food, water, and working men to actually build all this stuff. These vast mobile cities are damn impressive feats, yet they go around destroying each other. My last nagging question relates to the land itself. It seems that the surface of the Earth has changed since the '60 minute war' and countries like the UK have now joined mainland Europe (?). Anyway, considering how vast the mobile city of London is (and I assume some other cities), it got me wondering if there was enough space on the land for all these mobile metropolises. Heck even the smaller mobile cities are pretty big and its indicated there are many of them. I mean you could ask the same about ocean-going cruise liners in our present day and obviously there is plenty of ocean for lots. But if there were loads all roaming around on their own accord I'm sure there would be problems. This also led to me ask what state the land would be in. These gigantic mobile cities tearing and grinding up the earth as they piledrive along. The land would be wrecked, flattened, no trees, no plant life, no animal life, a complete wasteland. As for the actual movie, well its a mixed bag really and does indeed remind you of some other large budgeted sci-fi movie failures of recent. First off it is very much your bog standard [i]Star Wars[/i] type clone with all the usual bog standard characters. Mix in some other very common elements from some other well known classic franchises (I don't even need to mention them) and this is the inevitable result. The only aspect of this movie that was slightly fresh was the steampunk aspect, which I liked. But yeah you have your standard unwilling hero who finds himself thrust into a war of which he was somewhat naive about (and in this case looks disturbingly like Justin Trudeau). The standard strong female character who is trying to get revenge. The standard well-spoken leader who is actually behind closed doors the nasty villain. And then basically a whole load of background characters doing the usual stuff for both sides. I also have to mention that yet again we have a clear case of all the goodies being a multicultural bunch. Whereas all the baddies are all white, just like in [i]The Last Jedi[/i]. A strange and increasingly obvious Hollywood trend. I mean in all honesty, aside from the admittedly cool and intriguing visuals, there isn't really that much going on here. It has the exact beats (both character and plot-wise) you would expect from a sci-fi feature of this ilk, literally scene for scene. In one sequence the main villain Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo Weaving) wants to unleash this cyborg from a prison so it can hunt down and kill the main hero Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar). Now Weaving's character is highly important in this movie, he has sway and power. Yet in order to release this cyborg he destroys the entire prison killing everyone. Couldn't he get this thing out without doing that? This attack also highlights how vulnerable and badly designed these mobile vehicles are, in this case a spider-like walking prison. One shot to a leg joint and down it goes. And speaking of the cyborg (a clear Terminator rip-off called Shrike), what was that all about? From what I can gather these things were men that have been killed in battle and then resurrected with mechanical body parts. And apparently there was an entire army of them. This particular one looked after Hester as a child after her mother had been murdered. Why this killer cyborg decided to do this I don't know. But the really odd thing is the fact that the cyborg offers to turn Hester into an undead cyborg (because she is suffering depression from the murder of her mother). Hester agrees (!!) and makes a promise with Shrike. But in changing her mind Hester breaks that promise which triggers Shrike to continually hunt her down in order to kill her and transform her into an undead cyborg (eh???). This entire subplot was just idiotic and was completely pointless to the movie. You could literally remove it all, utterly aimless. Of course Shrike eventually tracks Hester down to a city in the sky (yes that's right a city in the sky, in the clouds if you will...ahem) and in the ensuing battle the city starts to fall apart. Shrike gets badly damaged and Hester does find her original love for Shrike is reignited as the cyborg is obviously about to expire. And in typical action movie fashion despite the entire city falling apart around them with explosions and debris, both Hester and Shrike manage to muster enough time in order to have an emotional farewell (in true [i]Terminator[/i] fashion). So yeah suspension of disbelief is required for this movie. Whilst that might sound obvious for a sci-fi fantasy it's a bit different for this one seeing as its sorta supposed to reflect upon certain obvious political issues of our current time such as capitalism, climate change, easily manipulated governmental systems, non-renewable energy etc...Cities that 'eat' and 'absorb' other cities which only benefits the few (in the cities) instead of everyone which would possibly lead to a better future. Basically saying, or highlighting, how society can/could eat itself. This can be easily detected in the story but the sci-fi element is so zany with its wheeled warrior cities the social commentary kinda gets smothered. Not to mention the sheer quantity of horrendous greenscreen effects and shots. Stand aside [i]Star Wars[/i] prequels, there's a new joker in town. So yeah, the wheeled tank-like cities concept is engaging but ultimately really stupid. The rest of it is by the numbers science fiction which can be somewhat fun but only when the characters are actually onboard some kind of moving vehicle (they aren't very good characters that's why). Once they fall off onto the ground the movie literally stops dead, which is weird when you think about it. This is a highly imaginative and packed world for sure but as said before it owes so much to other films and tries to do too much. I felt like I was watching the final movie in a trilogy (or more!). The movie really feels like it needs sequels but I doubt that will happen. One thing I will say, I reckon this has future cult status written all over it.
    Phil H Super Reviewer
  • Mar 12, 2019
    There's way too much going on, either the movie should have jettisoned a subplot or two, or been a lot longer. That said, I still enjoyed the movie for its ambition and strange set-up. The image of London as a ravenous machine bent on devouring other cities is kind of ingenious.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Feb 03, 2019
    Shocking nobody, Mortal Engines was not very good. Trying to jam way too much into two hours than is reasonable, it instead delivers on zero things. I guess I was kind of interested in the character of Shrike, but that was really the whole of my positive experience with Mortal Engines. Maybe if this thing had come out about eight years ago in the height of the bizarre Steam Punk obsession that gripped the globe (even if it was a weird sort of obsession where everybody called everything they like, and themselves Steam Punk but it really wasn't required to have any relation to actual Steam Punk) then the movie could have at least done well financially, but there's no world wherein this version of Mortal Engines is a consumate film.
    Gimly M Super Reviewer

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