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Mortal Engines: War of the Cities

Mortal Engines: War of the Cities

Neuseeland / USA 2018 - with Hera Hilmar, Hugo Weaving, Jihae, Robert Sheehan, Stephen Lang ...

The Frankfurt-Tipp rating:

Movie info

Original title:Mortal Engines
Genre:Adventure, Action, Sci-Fi
Direction:Christian Rivers
Cinema release:13.12.2018
Production country:Neuseeland / USA 2018
Running time:Ca. 128 Min
Rated:From 12 years
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In the future, the Earth's resources are almost exhausted. After a devastating war that lasted only a few hours, the planet was made almost uninhabitable. The few surviving humans have united in motorized cities that can hunt and destroy other cities to acquire their valuable resources. One of the most powerful cities is London, which is to be led into a new era by Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo Weaving). Only the young fighter Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmer) is opposed to his hunger for power. With Valentine she still has a personal score to settle. Together with the museum employee Tom (Robert Sheenan), who is initially involuntarily involved in the fight, and the rebel group around Anna Fang (Jihae), Hester wants to stop the destructive London and destroy Valentine - but he has worked in secret on a weapon against which even the most militant resistance seems to be powerless… 

For production and script of "Mortal Engines: War of the Cities", nobody less than Peter Jackson and his "Lord of the Rings" comrades-in-arms Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens were responsible. A long-time companion of Jackson also took a seat on the director's chair: Christian Rivers was responsible for the visual effects in "The Lord of the Rings" and "King Kong", even winning an Oscar for the latter. And on parts 2 and 3 of "The Hobbit", he even rose to assistant director. For the film adaptation of the dystopic novel by Philip Reeve, which was followed by three more parts, Rivers was allowed to take a seat in the coveted director's chair for the first time. 

The strength of his feature film debut is clearly what Rivers won an Oscar for. The visual effects are sometimes really great. The steampunk version of London is a feast for the eyes and the detailed equipment supports this impression. It's a great spectacle to see the film. But: As happy as the eyes are, as unenthusiastic is the intellect. He's not exactly stimulated by the rather meager story. The problem is that the film loses itself too much in its visual gadgets and fails to present the story and its characters in a credible way. 

That starts with very basic things. This never really explains why moving cities were built. The explanation that it was possible to hunt for such important raw materials is a little poor, especially considering the energy needed to move such a city. But the biggest drawback is that the figures remain completely one-dimensional. It's hard to develop a real interest for the characters, so that the emotional moments can never even begin to take effect. And in the case of the robot-like hunter Shrike, his big showdown seems almost involuntarily funny. 

Here it would have made sense not to break down the whole world and the conflicts of the main characters in a short intro and fragmentary flashbacks. Where Jackson has drawn the story too long in the "Hobbit", his script just rushes through the action too fast. Surely, "Mortal Engines: War of the Cities" is also entertaining due to the high show values. But the very great wow effect that could have been achieved here is unfortunately missing. On the positive side it has to be said that the story was told to the end without a big cliffhanger - of course with a backdoor for a possible sequel. 

So if you are just looking for food for the eyes, you'll be really well served here. However, if you dare to expect a good story and interesting characters in the cinema, you will be rather disappointed by the drawing board story. All in all a solid one: worth seeing!

An article by Frankfurt-Tipp


  • Mortal Engines: War of the Cities
  • Mortal Engines: War of the Cities
  • Mortal Engines: War of the Cities
  • Mortal Engines: War of the Cities
  • Mortal Engines: War of the Cities
  • Mortal Engines: War of the Cities
  • Mortal Engines: War of the Cities
Cinema trailer for the movie "Mortal Engines: War of the Cities (Neuseeland / USA 2018)"
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