Universal Pictures | Release Date: December 14, 2018
6.1
USER SCORE
Generally favorable reviews based on 246 Ratings
USER RATING DISTRIBUTION
Positive:
124
Mixed:
80
Negative:
42
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7
BigDegs29Dec 17, 2018
I'm giving this a 7 because, despite it's many flaws, I found it thoroughly entertaining. Starting with the positives:
• The movie is a visual treat, as was expected
• The lead actress does an incredible job IMO. I've never seen her before,
I'm giving this a 7 because, despite it's many flaws, I found it thoroughly entertaining. Starting with the positives:
• The movie is a visual treat, as was expected
• The lead actress does an incredible job IMO. I've never seen her before, but hope to see her again! Her male co-star does a passable job; no complaints. In fact, I think the acting was all above average.
• I know some found the story boring, but I liked it, aside from some predictable moments.
• The pacing was spot on. Gave the movie room to breathe without getting bogged down.

The negatives:
• Dumb or overused lines. Hugo Weaving actually rips a couple lines direct from The Lord of the Rings, which is jarring to hear in another world. • Plot holes and non-sensical (or non-existent) character motivations.
• We don't learn enough about the world.
• Terminator in the second act. Felt like filler. Plus, we're supposed to feel some emotion at one moment, and I simply didn't. • Speaking of emotion, I didn't buy the connection between the two leads. There simply wasn't enough groundwork laid for it.

All in all, definitely worth a watch. I think the critics have been a little too harsh here (as they usually are for fantasy-like movies).
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6 of 6 users found this helpful60
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7
Lonewolf63Mar 15, 2019
Went into this movie cold. My wife and I wanted to try a new theater and this was playing at the right time. We both loved the movie. Yes, it did have some plot holes, but it was fun and was actually very well acted. Go see it, enjoy.
2 of 2 users found this helpful20
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7
TomtagApr 14, 2019
This movie had great special effects and kept the scenes as paradise for viewers, even though the story isn't that good
1 of 1 users found this helpful10
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9
JanGasserJan 14, 2019
The story of the movie is for sure not the best, but the rest of the movie is great. The steampunk-world looks stunning and and the movie is full of epic scenes. The best fantasy movie i saw this year.
2 of 3 users found this helpful21
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9
0401616Dec 29, 2018
Mortal Engines feels fresh: many of the elements have been seen before, but rarely have any of them felt as well done. Watching the movie for the first time, you feel like there are many layers of depth (moving cities not withstanding), andMortal Engines feels fresh: many of the elements have been seen before, but rarely have any of them felt as well done. Watching the movie for the first time, you feel like there are many layers of depth (moving cities not withstanding), and you are only scratching the surface. It is occasionally quirky without becoming too excentric to appeal to a mainstream audience. The visiual style is at times remeniscent of the Lord of the Rings, though there are moments that seem inspired by Star Wars (in a good way).

While there is a message about our use of the planet's resources, the movie is never overbearing, and does not lecture. In short: Mortal Engines is an entertaining movie to watch, with a high level of immersion, and the kind of scenery that would not have looked out of place in Lord of the Rings.
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2 of 3 users found this helpful21
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7
GrachechkovskiDec 15, 2018
This is spectacular movie where you can feel all enormity of city and landscape size, especially in 3D vision. Also I saw the small niceness of the actions and history, because of the book is bigger I suggest. However, it's a great movie forThis is spectacular movie where you can feel all enormity of city and landscape size, especially in 3D vision. Also I saw the small niceness of the actions and history, because of the book is bigger I suggest. However, it's a great movie for evening time Expand
4 of 7 users found this helpful43
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9
BennyCKChiaDec 17, 2018
Detailed production design provide a visually stunning sci-fi, reminiscing Kerry Conran's 2004 classic bomb SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW. Plot is twisted far from the original novel, expect sci-fi of this nature to be bomb in USDetailed production design provide a visually stunning sci-fi, reminiscing Kerry Conran's 2004 classic bomb SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW. Plot is twisted far from the original novel, expect sci-fi of this nature to be bomb in US boxoffice since it has no big names in the cast and not a well-known entity that can create a splash. One of my best of 2018. Expand
4 of 7 users found this helpful43
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7
Just1nsaneDec 15, 2018
Not sure why the critics are giving this movie such bad reviews sometimes I ask my self did we see the same movie? Well to each their own. This movie is not bad at all. It's only problem is the character are not fully fleshed out.
3 of 6 users found this helpful33
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7
JamesIrish68Dec 15, 2018
Best Steampunk I've seen in ages . A cross between Time Bandits and Mad Max:Beyond the Thunder Doom with a Lord of the Rings in the distant future vibe. I especially liked the baddie Hugo Weaving. He has been hitting the gym .He looks reallyBest Steampunk I've seen in ages . A cross between Time Bandits and Mad Max:Beyond the Thunder Doom with a Lord of the Rings in the distant future vibe. I especially liked the baddie Hugo Weaving. He has been hitting the gym .He looks really well.

The CGI is very good, especially the traction cities. It more than compensates for the weaknesses in the story. It's adapted from a Young Adult sci-fi novel so it's aimed at them naturally. Critics and old farts didn't enjoy it. We did.
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3 of 6 users found this helpful33
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7
ohnomrbillDec 15, 2018
this is a very unconventional movie with conventional values. mostly great fun to watch yet you may find, in the end, convention sort of eats up the unconventional. still, a mostly fun movie to watch.
3 of 6 users found this helpful33
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7
LamontRaymondDec 20, 2018
It's MUCH more fun an emotionally engaging than the critics lead me to believe. Loved the lead actor and actress, but the breakout star from this film is the the bad-ass Asian actress from the "Mars" series on Nat Geo. She's stellar andIt's MUCH more fun an emotionally engaging than the critics lead me to believe. Loved the lead actor and actress, but the breakout star from this film is the the bad-ass Asian actress from the "Mars" series on Nat Geo. She's stellar and should be a big star in the coming years. Expand
2 of 4 users found this helpful22
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9
LBXZeroDec 17, 2018
I find this movie as underrated. The story is great, and the scenario is well executed. I believe the real problem isn't the film but the marketting. This film is more relatable to a Steampunk Star Wars handled by a competent director.
2 of 4 users found this helpful22
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8
mrgfisherApr 15, 2019
Enjoyable, non-stop, loud, huge 'world'. Makes me want to read the books. Will watch it again.

Downside - the action and pace sometimes gets in the way of the acting and human side of the story telling.
2 of 4 users found this helpful22
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7
EludiumQ36Oct 26, 2019
"Mortal Engines" is an entirely watchable film, it's a good cohesive plot with a villain AND an anti-villain along with some amazing large-scale visuals so the larger your 4K/HDR tv the better. Along those lines, there's a lot of dark scenes"Mortal Engines" is an entirely watchable film, it's a good cohesive plot with a villain AND an anti-villain along with some amazing large-scale visuals so the larger your 4K/HDR tv the better. Along those lines, there's a lot of dark scenes so those with OLED or other true-black tvs will be better served. (originally posted on IMDB 10/12/19) Expand
1 of 2 users found this helpful11
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9
kiwijinxterDec 26, 2018
Steampunk Star Wars. That's what I thought when I watched this movie. Mortal Engines is a little bit like Star Wars in that it creates an entire (steampunk) world from scratch and introduces us to a whole bunch of new, nuanced characters whomSteampunk Star Wars. That's what I thought when I watched this movie. Mortal Engines is a little bit like Star Wars in that it creates an entire (steampunk) world from scratch and introduces us to a whole bunch of new, nuanced characters whom we are unfamiliar with, all of them with some backstory, which makes things interesting. It's a whole new world. What I really like about the world of Mortal Engines is that it is unlike any other worlds I've seen before in the movies, so the mechanics of the world is totally different. It's a semi-post apocalyptic world, with a hint of dystopia (yet not dark like many of the modern boring dystopian movies we see today) coupled with a dash of hope and humanity. On the one hand you have the humans which, true to life, want to destroy each other and then on the other hand you have the unquenchability of the human spirit found in steampunk itself told through what is likely the coolest steampunk character I've seen in the movies, Shrike (I won't spoil it for you, but you'll know what I mean when you see the movie).

With Weta's involvement and Peter Jackson & co, it is no surprise how real they managed to create this steampunk world, in excellent CGI glory. London on wheels is simply so cool and intimidating. The actors all fit into this world well. I reckon they could make this movie even more interesting by fleshing out the characters quite a bit more. All in all, it is simply such a cool movie. Personally, this is one of the most unexpected movies I've seen in 2018 and it is a pleasant surprise, being so different from the other movies. I love it, my kids loved it too. Highly recommended.
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1 of 2 users found this helpful11
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10
Faust-RSIFeb 1, 2019
Very nice ideas and the world itself, though as I know they are taken form the book series. I enjoyed the movie and can't wait to see more from this series.
1 of 2 users found this helpful11
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8
RobFeightJul 8, 2019
This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. What an under-the-radar treat! And a big THANKS to the random writer who made a list of movies that, "If You Liked, Alita: Battle Angel..." Amazing that both of these movies garnered such modest fan-fare. But, my running theory is that Mortal Engines crossed boldly into the political realm. The Governor came off as an obvious symbol of the Dalai Lama. Even the city behind the wall--the statics--was an expanded spitting image of Dharamshala. The Mudusa? One look at that futuristic USB thumbdrive with the "USA" imprinted onto it and suspicions are only further assured. London representing the United Kingdom; the kamikaze move by the Asian woman fighting for the good guys; there is certainly an abundance of evidence to further the theory. In any case, if this movie didn't drum-up the PR band this could certainly be a reason why.

Okay, onto the review.

Another metacritic reviewer had the same thought as myself: That Star Wars vibe. It felt as though I was being drawn into a franchise universe--albeit with a MUCH bigger catalog of set-pieces--sorry Death Star. Should go without saying, the CGI was captivating. To be expected with WETA behind the helm, and Peter Jackson's own dedicated art department manager taking the reins on his first big-budget directing role.

Yes, there were some questionable writing decisions made. Lazarus cyborg dying from a scissor kick? The blonde daughter--the protagonist's half-sister--and Tom's friend disappearing from the story for no apparent reason just as they could had stepped-in and stopped the Medusa from wreaking havoc? The villain--a writer with honorary political power--suddenly knew how to wield a sword better than a trained warrior? These were three of the biggest offenders that jerked me abruptly from my immersion.

Perhaps the production ran short on funding and had to rush something out the door.

But, most importantly, I was largely more-so-than-not, immersed.

Eight stars, because Mortal Engines took a well-known plot and turned it into an original cinematic experience that deserves a Twinkies' lifetime of praise.
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1 of 2 users found this helpful11
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7
Davrosdaleks1Dec 17, 2018
I'm afraid I'm basically mimicking the general opinion on this, but Mortal Engines is more style than substance.

Visually this one of those rare visual masterpieces. Director Christian Rivers was a storyboard artist/visual effects guy on the
I'm afraid I'm basically mimicking the general opinion on this, but Mortal Engines is more style than substance.

Visually this one of those rare visual masterpieces. Director Christian Rivers was a storyboard artist/visual effects guy on the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit films, and he knows how build a world. The film contains a sort of cyberpunk-ish reality that combines the old and new. Everything from the technology to the clothing to even the natural environment feels completely distinctive. The giant tank-like city of London is something to behold. The opening where we're introduced to the place is such a breathtaking scene.

The film also has an impressively designed secondary antagonist in the form of the disturbing and relentless Shrike, a cyber-zombie with a piercing voice

Before I get into the plot, understand that the story and actors are decent, just not strong enough to sustain the 2 hour, 8 minute run time. The script is by Peter Jackson and his regular co-writers Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens. Like King Kong and the Hobbit films, they don't realize less is more. Dialogue and some action scenes just go on a little too long. In fairness, the length gives the writers ample time to explain how this busy world works. Even then there are a couple script holes: a character figures out a plot point too quickly without enough plausible context and a supporting character just sort of vanishes once he served his purpose.

The film unsuccessfully romantically pairs the two main characters Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar) and Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan). It does a wonderful job of building a friendship and why they'd trust each other, but the love aspect is unbelievable. It happens too quickly, and they have no chemistry.

Plot-wise the standout character is again Shrike. He has the most sympathetic story-line. In the pantheon of good villains from weak films, I hope Shrike ends up being remembered like the Darkness from Legend and not forgotten like Maximillian from the Black Hole.

Despite it's clunkiness, I highly recommend you see this just for this experience. You just may want to watch it at home while your washing the dishes or working on a project.
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1 of 2 users found this helpful11
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10
KruppaNandorJan 6, 2019
This is the steampunk version of the star wars, and f***in awesome. Instant get for all engineers, like me.
1 of 2 users found this helpful11
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10
GadzukesMay 31, 2019
This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. If you like steampunk you will love this movie! While the cities aren't running on steam, it gives you the same feeling. Non-stop action and plenty of twists and turns throughout the movie. Expand
1 of 2 users found this helpful11
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10
JmacTheGreatJun 2, 2019
I can't believe this movie bombed at the theaters, it was really good and the originality of it was on point. People aren't giving original movies a chance anymore. The special effects were outstanding, really good acting and intense actionI can't believe this movie bombed at the theaters, it was really good and the originality of it was on point. People aren't giving original movies a chance anymore. The special effects were outstanding, really good acting and intense action throughout, it's a perfect 10 for me. Expand
1 of 2 users found this helpful11
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10
nicohoffiDec 17, 2018
This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Very Good Movie, one of the best i´ve seen this Year.
Go and watch it yourself and u´ll be surprised
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9 of 20 users found this helpful911
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7
JokohamaDec 16, 2018
This movie has cool steampunk vibe, stunning visual, b-rated story and NPC-like characters.
2 of 5 users found this helpful23
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10
DanielGWDec 21, 2018
Mortal Engines: Rise - The World of the Traction Cities. Mortal Engines is a different kind of movie, one that brings you closer to the truth.

Everyone says don’t believe the hype except of course if the hype is for something to fail. The
Mortal Engines: Rise - The World of the Traction Cities. Mortal Engines is a different kind of movie, one that brings you closer to the truth.

Everyone says don’t believe the hype except of course if the hype is for something to fail. The movie Mortal Engines will be a cult classic – guaranteed. The only question is did you experience it on the big screen when you had the chance? What is the movie about? The real question is how far do you want to go?

If we could literally see what our combined actions looked like as a species then it would look like something akin to Mortal Engines. Yes, it is that kind of movie.
Even the name ‘Mortal Engines’ signifies that nothing we create lasts forever. If the whole concept of mobile predator cities seems outlandish then remember it was intentionally meant to be so. The mobile cities are a powerful metaphor for the ridiculousness of our human engineered systems and how far we will go to protect them. This movie poses some of the most profound questions of our age. Such as how far will we go as a species in the fight for limited resources?

How far will we go to sustain the unsustainable?
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2 of 5 users found this helpful23
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9
ProteusJan 1, 2019
Marketing Fail of the Century! Good movie y'all. Better than about any other in the genre. Very interesting world which is both fantastic and seems real. Design, execution, story, everybody gets an A except the publicity folks need to beMarketing Fail of the Century! Good movie y'all. Better than about any other in the genre. Very interesting world which is both fantastic and seems real. Design, execution, story, everybody gets an A except the publicity folks need to be fired, and barred from working in the industry ever again. Expand
2 of 6 users found this helpful24
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9
HealingToolboxJan 25, 2019
Like Fantastic Beasts 2: Gindelwald, here is another movie with AAA budget, direction, acting, effects and CONVICTION in each department. Both are AAA works of craft in feature film making. What did the USA critics think? They could notLike Fantastic Beasts 2: Gindelwald, here is another movie with AAA budget, direction, acting, effects and CONVICTION in each department. Both are AAA works of craft in feature film making. What did the USA critics think? They could not find a reason to take either film seriously and celebrate all the things working so well. Both movies made multiple times more in foreign markets than in the USA. More serious fantasy film makers than David Yates and Peter Jackson almost don't exist. How their latest works of pop art are being denigrated makes me wonder more about what USA critics want in their movies. Is it that both films fall short of perfection and therefore should be given low ratings? Is it how neither marketing campaign caught on and became click-bait ($$$ for social media corporations) with billions of Facebook likes to celebrate? I'm thinking more how serious fantasy film making is now only taken seriously outside Trump's USA. Unless--the film has billions of likes and corporations can make money off social media around ads, features and trailers for the film. You may agree with me much weaker films with marketing campaigns which went more viral, often seem to get higher scores; and therefore, attendance. Expand
1 of 3 users found this helpful12
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10
LinlinPaolianDec 24, 2018
I totally love this movie. It is gorgeous, imaginative, consuming. The storyline is simple and the characters are relatable. The pace is perfect, without long boring scenes. In just 2 hours they have managed to recreate a new fantastic world,I totally love this movie. It is gorgeous, imaginative, consuming. The storyline is simple and the characters are relatable. The pace is perfect, without long boring scenes. In just 2 hours they have managed to recreate a new fantastic world, surprisingly detailed. I strongly recommend this movie to all those who love adventure movies and fairytales. Expand
1 of 4 users found this helpful13
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7
KayVen17Dec 30, 2018
Deutsche Review - Kritik Der folgende Test ist in 5 Kategorien zusammengefasst. Diese 5 Kartegorien ergeben die Gesamtpunktzahl von 0 - 100 Punkten. Um einen passenden Userscore zu geben wird auf oder abgerundet. Bei 84 Punkten ergibt dasDeutsche Review - Kritik Der folgende Test ist in 5 Kategorien zusammengefasst. Diese 5 Kartegorien ergeben die Gesamtpunktzahl von 0 - 100 Punkten. Um einen passenden Userscore zu geben wird auf oder abgerundet. Bei 84 Punkten ergibt das einen User Score von 8. Bei 86 einen von Userscore von 9. Falls eine 85 kommt entscheide ich ob ich es eher positiv oder negativ nehme. Regeln verstanden? Dann sind hier meine Punkte. Punkte: 71/100 Expand
0 of 1 users found this helpful01
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10
Amine101Mar 12, 2019
One of the best science fiction movies I have ever watched. It perfectly depicts the main failures of humanity : The failure to live in peace, The failure to preserve natural resources because of short term gain and greed and The failure toOne of the best science fiction movies I have ever watched. It perfectly depicts the main failures of humanity : The failure to live in peace, The failure to preserve natural resources because of short term gain and greed and The failure to learn from history.
It reflects a society that is very close to our days world: a society that is eating itself (literally) for the short term gain of the powerful few, over a sustainable future that benefits us all.
Really brilliant and bewildering movie and story.
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0 of 2 users found this helpful02
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8
Karmazyn83Feb 22, 2019
I really liked it. Nice, easy watch. Wonderful CGI and good acting. Movie was set in a very interesting Steam punk world. Shame it bombed, I would love to see a sequel. Costumes, sets and attention to details was really good. I will watch itI really liked it. Nice, easy watch. Wonderful CGI and good acting. Movie was set in a very interesting Steam punk world. Shame it bombed, I would love to see a sequel. Costumes, sets and attention to details was really good. I will watch it again tonight. Stunning visuals. I blame poor marketing for failure of this movie in a box office. What a shame. Expand
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8
paulraisedMar 4, 2019
This feels like a family friendly 90’s adventure, much like The Mummy or ID4 but with today’s technology. It’s a good mix. The steam punk universe is very cool, visuals are breathtaking, there are epic villains, action, fun... Downside is itThis feels like a family friendly 90’s adventure, much like The Mummy or ID4 but with today’s technology. It’s a good mix. The steam punk universe is very cool, visuals are breathtaking, there are epic villains, action, fun... Downside is it also feels a lot like they borrowed from Star Wars... The movie is a bit long but it’s justified. Pace seems even throughout the whole thing. Perhaps they mashed too many events for a single movie, a trilogy might have been a better fit. Expand
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7
antinaFeb 26, 2019
I keep askin myself why the critics are giving this movie such bad reviews? Maybe the world nowadays has become so dull that noone can enjoy a nice fairytale. For those who still can, this movie, altough far from perfect, is a breath of fresh air.
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8
DeusExCriticaFeb 17, 2019
Pleasantly surprised after watching this. While the critics burried it under negative reviews, I found it thoroughly entertaining. The most interesting thing about the movie is probably the world it takes place in. A very interesting take onPleasantly surprised after watching this. While the critics burried it under negative reviews, I found it thoroughly entertaining. The most interesting thing about the movie is probably the world it takes place in. A very interesting take on post-apocalyptia, where most of humanity inhabits massive roaming cities, makes for a backdrop that never fails to amaze. Although the fact that this post-apocalyptic world isn't ravaged by radiation or zombies, is interesting and fresh enough on its own. The world isn't only interesting as a concept, it's also fantastic to look at. The CGI is top-notch, and the attention that has been put in the design detail is stagering, making almost every shot look downright beautiful.
The story isn't without its plotholes, but they're not the kind of plotholes that make you pause and scratch your head in confusion. The pacing of the story makes sure there aren't any undeveloped arcs by the time the credits roll, and manages to hit just the right spot in term of making the movie feel neither rushed, nor slow.
The action scenes are a pure joy to watch, as the editing manages to bring tension to every shot. The plot isn't exactly groundbreaking, but it is serviceable and does a good enough job at keeping you interested in it.
Where the movie fails for me is the acting and dialogue. While not always present, the cheesy dialogue, and forced exposition (especially in the flashbacks scenes) are enough to take you out of it. As for the acting, perhaps the best term to describe it would be "all over the place". Hugo Weaving is amazing in every line he delivers, the female lead struggles to appear natural throughout most of the movie, and the male lead is somehwere in between. The same dynamic can be applied to the secondary characters as well, making the delivery of already cheesy lines ("It has no heart *dramatic pause* like me, *dun dun DUN*" comes to mind) be trully jarring at times, often forcing you to have to cringe your way through the worst scenes.

In coclusion, an interesting and visually beautiful world, mixed with an entertaining, well-pased story, that's sadly brought down by bad dialogue and (sometimes) bad acting.
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8
DaermonJan 7, 2019
A good, unique movie whit few little problems. Hera Hilmarsdóttir is awesome! Hugo Weaving same. The story is good, not unique but good. The visual and sounds 10/10.
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8
seenshFeb 24, 2019
the film is very enjoyable and the visuals are great and the acting was very good. I know it could be better it should be very long series so the details of the very complicated world can be shown better. The fast pace of the film kill itsthe film is very enjoyable and the visuals are great and the acting was very good. I know it could be better it should be very long series so the details of the very complicated world can be shown better. The fast pace of the film kill its very creative idea. Expand
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8
AverageStudentMay 27, 2019
Going into viewing this I had not much idea about it besides a loose plot description and that it was Peter Jackson's work. Contrary to the general consensus of the film I really enjoyed it and the world it built, it created a mysteriousGoing into viewing this I had not much idea about it besides a loose plot description and that it was Peter Jackson's work. Contrary to the general consensus of the film I really enjoyed it and the world it built, it created a mysterious future world and explored it quite a bit with amazing visuals and a reasonable plot. However my biggest gripe with the film was the plot, whilst it did build an incredible world it failed to explain much about it and often mentioned pieces of history for them to have zero relevance or have more relevance yet did not become explored further which disappointed me as I really enjoyed the world built and would have loved to explore the world more, however this lends me to believe that it maybe is sequel baiting a bit. However despite the story issues as a visual action popcorn eating movie it was amazing, great action pieces with great visuals to boot. Definitely a great movie and something to watch, however do not go in expecting an immersive story world. Expand
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10
JoshuaZaffiroJul 9, 2019
This movie is worth the watch! one of the best i have ever watched so far! This is truly a masterpiece and a work of gem. It got me goosebumps all the way through the end. Characters were great everything was just perfect! and now I'm in loveThis movie is worth the watch! one of the best i have ever watched so far! This is truly a masterpiece and a work of gem. It got me goosebumps all the way through the end. Characters were great everything was just perfect! and now I'm in love with this movie i kept on thinking about it after i watch it! This is truly a 11 out of 10.

Amazing job to the producers and all the staffs! truly magnificent! I'm really hoping to have a sequel on this!
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8
hnestlyontheslyOct 12, 2019
This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Mortal Engines resists clichés and forges ahead with some welcome changes to the YA fantasy genre, despite making new mistakes, opening the same weekend as a Marvel movie.

First and possibly last time I will have a personal story to share about a movie: when I was studying in England for a semester, I was in a place with a lot of old bookstores where famous authors would frequent and I had a chance to meet Phillip Reeve at a booksigning event where he read from a new piece he was working on and talked about making the jump from illustrator to writer. He was one of the most entertaining authors I had met and he left a big impression on me. One of the things that I remember him saying about his process was that he liked drawing scenes and then after he arranged images, he would attempt to connect a story that would make those images work. He also said he liked writing stories with people who seem like good guys reveal themselves to be bad guys and vice versa, only, I think the way he put it was, “where the baddies end up being goodies and the goodies sometimes are baddies.” That desire to challenge expectations might seem pretty simple at first glance, but its implications are deeply subversive and challenge many of the bread-and-butter stereotypes of YA fiction.

I’m not saying that Mortal Engines is a perfect film, but I think that it faithfully adapted many of the most successful, challenging aspects of the book: a skepticism of the efficacy of violence, an avoidance of the glorification of violent heroism, a resistance of lazy erotic storytelling, and a self-awareness about epic battle scenes. Any of those elements on its own should have been enough to set this punchy little tween fantasy movie apart, but unfortunate timing (on the very same weekend as Marvel’s Into the Spiderverse) may have undone this film before it even had a chance.

The film features up-and-coming actress Hera Hillmar as Hester Shaw (the first time I saw her was in the first of two different films about the Armenian genocide at the same film festival in San Jose last year–her performance was actually pretty fun) and Justin Trudeau wannabe Robert Sheehan as Tom, who lives on a rolling city-fortress of London in the distant post-apocalyptic future. There’s a betrayal or maybe a double betrayal. One of the criticisms that’s been leveled against the film is that the bad guy’s motivation is to be the bad guy, which I think is maybe fair criticism, though there’s room for apologetics about the social politics around New Colonialism and the many wide shots of cheering elites in their rooftop gardens as devastation rains down on less fortunate towns. More important, I would suggest, than the obvious villain of the film are all of the little betrayals and jarring treacheries of everyday life. The random turn of luck that happens so often in every other fantasy movie is a “hyperobject“, a thing that looks one way but is another, as Timothy Morton memorably puts its, “like the space worm in Star Wars that Han Solo docks inside thinking it a cave.”

Some spoiler analysis: one of the breakout stars of the film is Jihae, who plays Anna Fang, part of the resistance movement of “anti-tractionists.” One of things that makes me instantly really like a story is its ability to create and then kill off compelling secondary characters, rather than encasing them in plot armor. I’m thinking of Lee Scoresby from Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series (soon to be played in the BBC adaptation by none other than Lin-Manuel Miranda!) or, really, anyone in the Solo movie, Pulp Fiction flirts with the idea of eccentric secondaries who get a second chance through thoughtful editing and flashbacks, and China Miéville’s novels are replete with Hitchcockian partywipes halfway through the story. Anna Fang’s willingness to use force to spring Tom and Hester from captivity marks her ethos as different from the tortured restraint of Batmanian heroes of DC. She cuts ropes when weighed down, she shoots first and asks questions later. On a similar note, the Shrike storyline is one of the more original touches of this film, even if it mostly exists as exposition.
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7
damicosta02Apr 1, 2020
An original and interesting storyline, although it seems too hurried in my opinion. There are also moments which are kinda out of the right place. Anyway from a technical poin of view, special effects and so on have been done really well
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