I started reading Philip Reeve’s Predator City series last year, on the strength of the Mortal Engines trailer that was making the rounds at the time. The books are absolutely brilliant, and almost a year later, we have the first movie delivered by Peter Jackson protege, Christian Rivers.
When you wait so long for a film to appear, you start to worry if it can be possibly as good as you want it to be; if the movie is based on a favourite book then the sense of apprehension doubles. Things get worse if you can only make the 3D showing …
So what was it like? Well, as you’d expect, it was a bit like The Hobbit for Steampunk fans …
A visual spectacular, shot in New Zealand (where else?) and with the attention to detail that you’d expect from the Jackson studio. The design of the traction cities was simply awesome, and the costumes were just as fabulous (and there’s a word I don’t drag out often). The film doesn’t ask much of you when it comes to suspending disbelief: you’ll think someone has taken London and stuck it on massive treads. The special effects are that good.
While the film isn’t an absolutely faithful reproduction of the book (are they ever?), it’s close enough that die-hard Traction City fans will have no problem with the subtle changes that have been made. I mean, why ruin a good thing?
I can’t say I recognise many of the actors (aside from the excellent Hugo Weaving), but they did a commendable job bringing the characters to life in such a way that you can instantly recognise their idiosyncrasies from the book. Great acting, great direction.
I’m actually hard pressed to find a single thing I didn’t like about it, to be honest. Too long? Mmmm … at a push, maybe; but that’s really just nit-picking. Having read the book, I thought the first twenty minutes was going to be a bit of a yawner; it wasn’t. The film was evenly paced throughout, and even if you know the story intimately, it’s still worth seeing just for the sheer visual spectacle.
No brainer really: ten out of ten.