Rated PG-H for hand holding.
Mortal Engines has some stunning visuals as cities on giant tank treads roam the countryside looking for other cities to gobble into badly needed fuel. They need fuel to roam the countryside looking for fuel. At least that’s all the circular reasoning we get from the script to explain why mankind lifted London with a giant forklift onto an impressive chassis and retrofitted it with massive engines to roam the countryside looking for… but I repeat myself.
As does the movie. One Deus Ex Machina in an otherwise okay flick I might overlook, but Mortal Engines pulls out all the stops and gives us two or three more. Our young hero (Robert Sheehan) is just about to be crushed into hero jelly by an enormous Southie machine out for a bit of night sport when suddenly a hatch opens in the earth beneath his boots and he falls into safety. Convenient. Later when our young heroine (Hera Hilmar) is on the verge of being sold to a fabulous and fierce looking sausage maker, Anna Fang (rebel leader, played by Jihae Kim who looks very stylish in her post-apocalyptic designer clothes) shows up and saves the day. A few minutes later when Shrike – a resurrected man and probably the most interesting character of all – is about to kill or kidnap the two teenies who are slowly falling in love as teenies must in these flicks, Anna once again shows up in the nick, this time flying the mandatory air machine made from butterfly thread and discarded toasters.
Of course the villain (Hugo Weaving) is very villainous. He commands London as it bustles from place to place and at times he pretends to be good. But he’s not very good at pretending to be good and his evil intentions to dominate the world are soon on display for all to see – and cheer.
That’s right. As Hugo The Mad is in the midst of slaughtering thousands upon thousands of innocent people who thought they were safe behind their wall (take that Trump!), people stand on the decks of London and shout praise, applauding the carnage. London! London!
Good thing the ancients made a USB drive that stops the evil technology that Hugo re-booted. All that remains is for our heroine to do is plug it in and enter the passcode. Naturally, she has to fumble a bit and not get it right until there’s less than one second left on the final countdown. Must be a Hollywood rule or something.
All is well. Anna falls to her doom but not before she has a chance to show people her Hallmark card that says “Not Afraid of Death Because My Spirit is Free” and Hugo The Mad gets smashed to bad grape juice by his own city.
Now the two teenie lovers are free to fly the magical airship into the sequel. The air is clear and the landscape breathtaking as they leave the wreckage and bodies behind. The hell with cleanup, they say. There are other cities to save, other villains to defeat. There are more movie tickets and popcorn to be sold.