One of the hardest challenges filmmakers who create adaptations of previously published books face is striking a perfect balance between the idea of the book’s author and their own. Two categories of people have to be convinced, people who have read the book and already have a mental picture of what to expect, and those who have not and have to understand just by watching the movie. Failure to achieve this balance might have more than a little negative impact on the finished work and that is one of the ways box office flops are made. Case in point, Peter Jackson’s 2018 Mortal Engines happens to be one of the biggest flops in the attempt to turn a book into a film. Let’s fill you in on what Mortal Engines is all about and know if the other books by the author will also become movies as you read on.
What Is Mortal Engines All About?
Mortal Engines is a science fiction/fantasy flick set in a futuristic world after an apocalyptic event referred to as the Sixty Minute War destroyed civilization. The plot is consistent with the Darwinian evolutionary theory, where the humans left alive formed mobile cities and the stronger predatory cities would hunt and absorb the smaller settlements in what is called the great hunting ground – Great Britain and Continental Europe. On the other hand, cities under the “Anti-Traction League”, headed by Shan Guo – what used to be China, developed a traditional non-mobile settlement. This was defended by a shield wall which was made out of volcanic rock slabs and armored plates of the fallen cities.
The film premiered on November 27, 2018, and was released in the U.S on December 14, of the same year. Mortal Engines‘ cast included Hera Hilmar as Hester Shaw, Robert Sheehan as Tom Natsworthy, Leila George as Katherine Valentine, Patrick Malahide as Magnus Crome, Hugo Weaving as Thaddeus Valentine, Jihae as Anna Fang, Stephen Lang as Shrike and Ronan Raftery as Bevis Pod. It was directed by Christian Rivers, written by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Lord of the Rings director, Peter Jackson who also produced it, along with Zane Weiner,
How Was The Movie’s Reception?
The movie which was filmed in New Zealand between March 2017 and July 2017 grossed an unimpressive $83.7 million worldwide against a budget within the range of $100 to 150 million. Mortal Engines also received mixed reviews with most of them leaning towards the negative. It earned an approval rating of 27% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 178 reviews and an average rating of 4.9/10. Even though IMDB was a bit more generous, it ended up with 6.1/10 and on Metacritic, it received 44% based on 33 reviews.
Prominent film critics qualified the film with words like soulless, tiring, empty and unintentionally hysterical. The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw gave the film two stars out of five. The Daily Telegraph’s Tim Robey also gave the film two stars. Although the film critic, Andrew Barker commended the sequence of the opening chase as well as the emotional depth of the movie, he was not impressed by the development of the plot of Mortal Engines.
Surprisingly, New Zealand’s Stuff Reviewer, Graeme Tuckett, and reviewer for The Sydney Morning Herald, Sandra Hall both awarded the movie 4/5 stars. The former commended the director for paying attention to details such as tone and pacing and the latter commended Peter Jackson for his World-Building, among other things. Philip Reeve, the book’s author, unlike most people, had only good things to say about the film, noting that numerous changes were made to the story and the characters, but they are still essentially consistent with what he had in mind. He also praised director Christian Rivers, for the awesome job he did on Mortal Engines regarding the visuals, pace, and emotional core.
Is There Going To Be A Mortal Engines 2? Or Will Predator’s Gold Never Become A Movie
‘Predator’s Gold‘ is the title of the second novel in the Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines quartet and would have naturally been the sequel to Peter Jackson’s Mortal Engine film. However, given the immense loss incurred in the making of the film, it is highly unlikely that Predator’s Gold would be made into a movie. On the other hand, we have seen sequels being made even after a loss was incurred in the first release, it is likely that Mortal Engines 2 might just resurface.