Usually, it’s possible to glean from a movie’s promotional material and the level of marketing, along with other factors, whether or not it’ll more than likely be a good movie or not. A recent example is The Nutcracker and the Four Realms which I recently saw. The badly put together trailers for the film in terms of their messy editing and severe lack of that magic Disney feel already set me up for a subpar film, which it was.
For the Mortal Engines, however, it really seems like one of the biggest wild cards in awhile. While on one hand, it appears to have some of that Peter Jackson LOTR magic; the visuals look grand and beautiful, the action sequences look interesting, it concurrently harbours a familiar young adult aftertaste reminiscent of the YA mania period of The Hunger Games and Divergent. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however, the dialogue in the trailer seems far from inspired, so I think a lot of it will come down to whether or not they focus enough on building these characters amidst the CGI spectacle. The scar on Hester’s face is certainly a peculiarity that I think will be explored, probably with commentary on the concept of beauty (inner vs outer etc).
The promotional material has seemed to focus quite extensively on the character Anna Fang (played by Jihae), so that tells me that she might be the scene-stealing character, who will be of more interest than the protagonist. Of course, a film like this needs a good villain and I think Hugo Weaving has a great track record for bringing us villains who we truly fear and react to.
I can see the film sticking somewhat closely to the novel; the trailers seem to point to a rather faithful adaptation, (of course, that Hollywood filtered scar has been a negative talking point) which would mean multiple deaths throughout the movie. I think if they’re able to make us feel for these characters and have a connection to them leading to the brutal climax, this could be a great film, especially with the CGI spectacle to boot. However, if the characters turn out to be wooden tropes, and the dialogue is cliche as the trailers sort of suggest, it could tank the movie. For me, unfortunately, I’m kind of leaning slightly towards the latter; I think the main character will actually be an issue in terms of development and connection, however, a potentially interesting plot, interesting side characters that pull the story along, and a visual treat of the moving cities and their battles should bolster this movie.
Prediction: 7.5/10. Despite a slightly uninteresting lead, the world of the mortal engines nevertheless captivates you, with an interesting plot bolstered by the scene-stealing supporting cast.