From the filmmakers of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit comes Mortal Engines, an epic blockbuster with lots of moving parts, both literally and figuratively. So let's get your (Mortal) engines running with a few things that will get you through a 10-minute water cooler conversation about a movie about moving cities, opening in cinemas Dec 6.
1. What is it about?!
The movie — based on Philip Reeve’s 2001 book, the first of four — is set 1,700 years after The Sixty Minute War, a massive conflict that lasted, well, an hour. The world is now this desolate dystopia where what’s left of civilisation roams the planet on giant wheels as traction cities. These mobile metropolises scour the badlands, scavenging dwindling resources, consuming smaller traction cities along the way and scrapping them for spare parts.
2. London is calling!
The dominant traction city in the movie is London. Hugo Weaving plays Thaddeus Valentine, the guy running London and the movie’s resident baddie. He’s like the archaeologist and historian of the city obsessed with digging up and weaponising old, dangerous technologies. And the hero? That’ll be Hester Shaw, played by Icelandic actress Hera Hilmar. She has a bone — geddit? — to pick with Valentine because he may have something to do with the murder of Shaw’s mother.
3. The sets are going to be mind-blowing!
Filmed in New Zealand over the course of three months, Mortal Engines constructed 67 (some sources say 70) physical sets and roped in 3,900 extras — three times as many background actors enlisted for The Hobbit! Many of the dazzling sets were erected on gimbals that simulate the rocking movements of a city on wheels and tracks. The biggest set piece is the St Paul’s Cathedral, which took seven weeks to build. Check out some of the sets here…
4. Peter Jackson directed parts of it!
The Oscar-winning filmmaker had wanted to direct Mortal Engines since 2008 but was too preoccupied with The Hobbit trilogy. “I just thought I could either direct the movie in an exhausted state,” said Jackson in an interview with Empire magazine. “Or I could give it to someone who is young and has a bit more energy.” He eventually handed the project over to Christian Rivers, Jackson’s longtime storyboard and special effects artist. On top of his producing duties, Jackson also helped out with some second-unit stunt work.
5. It’s the sum of all your favourite movies!
When Christian Rivers took over the reins, he had a clear vision for the movie. “My pitch was that if you could make a triangle out of Star Wars, Mad Max and Harry Potter, we could sit in the middle,” said Rivers, who won a Best Visual Effects Oscar for King Kong and has worked with Jackson since 1992’s Braindead. “We sort of have the scale of Star Wars, the gritty realism of Mad Max, and inherent in Philip’s writing, there is this Harry Potter-esque, English institutional, almost Dickensian feel.”
Photos: UPI Media