The opening sequence of Mortal Engines is nothing short of spectacular. A lone woman scouts an open plain, and a moving object catches her eye. Distressed, she retreats to a settlement, yet warns no one. Moments later, the denizens of the settlement are alerted to the approaching object, and their ‘city’ breaks into pieces. Folding up onto wheels and into moving towns & villages, they flee the approaching leviathan.
One city, resembling a long-lost Bavaria, sputters to a start while attempting its own escape. But its smoke-spewing engines seem ill-matched for the enormous pursuer, whose front doors – emblazoned with the Union Jack – open to swallow the tiny ‘city’ whole.
Had Mortal Engines capitalized at all on the excitement of this opening, what a film it could have been. Instead, we get a laboriously paced, overly long film with too many side-plots and extraneous characters, some dressed as steampunk hipsters, others rejects from a colorized version of The Matrix.