Mortal Engines trailer

I don’t envy anyone having to cut a trailer for Mortal Engines. Based on the novel by author Philip Reeve, this big-budget genre epic is set in a universe that feels like a bit of a tough sell. The world as we once knew it is gone and civilization has become mobile. Giant “traction cities” roam the wasteland, preying on each other for parts and supplies, manned like giant ships in a sea of sand.

It’s wild. And it’s strange. But producer Peter Jackson has a little bit of experience in bringing tough-to-translate fictional worlds to the big screen. The new trailer offers a new taste of this ambitious vision.

Mortal Engines Trailer

This trailer offers a lot more than the initial teaser, which offered the tiniest taste of the film’s world without introducing any character or context. This footage has a lot of heavy lifting to do…but just look at the names in the credits! In addition to his role as a producer, Jackson co-wrote the screenplay with Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, reuniting the writing team behind the Lord of the Rings movies.

And behind the camera is Christian Rivers, a freshman feature filmmaker who has had one hell of a film school – he has worked with Jackson since 1992’s Dead Alive (or Braindead, depending on which continent you watch it) and has grown from a storyboard artist to a visual effects supervisor to a second unit director. He took home an Oscar for his VFX work in 2005’s King Kong.

I read and enjoyed Mortal Engines, but found Reeve’s world-building far more compelling than his plotting. In other words, this is the kind of source material that a talented team could genuinely improve upon and make their own. I’m very intrigued to see what they can do. I’m especially intrigued that the film will present this seemingly grim world as a post-post-apocapypse – humanity is no longer stuck in the muck of a Mad Max-ian hellscape and have simply adapted to their nutty new reality over the past millennia.

Mortal Engines opens in theaters on December 14, 2018. The complete cast includes Hugo Weaving, Hera Hilmar, Robert Sheehan, Jihae, Ronan Raftery, Leila George, Patrick Malahide and Stephen Lang. Here is the official synopsis:

Thousands of years after civilization was destroyed by a cataclysmic event, humankind has adapted and a new way of living has evolved.  Gigantic moving cities now roam the Earth, ruthlessly preying upon smaller traction towns.  Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan)—who hails from a Lower Tier of the great traction city of London—finds himself fighting for his own survival after he encounters the dangerous fugitive Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar).  Two opposites, whose paths should never have crossed, forge an unlikely alliance that is destined to change the course of the future.

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