MORTAL ENGINES Family Movie Review3 min read

By Trina Boice


Based on the book Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve, the movie features a young woman who has to survive in a post-apocalyptic age of predator cities.  It feels like a Steampunk version of Mad Mad Max: Fury Road or Waterworld. The title Mortal Engines is actually from Shakespeare's Othello when he writes,”O you mortal engines, whose rude throats the immortal Jove's dead clamours counterfeit, farewell.”  Among technology and war, it is a quest for humanity.


Meh.  Smaug meets Steampunk. The movie is produced by the incredibly talented Peter Jackson, who brought us the award-winning Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit trilogy. Unfortunately, this particular film doesn’t quite measure up.  The trailer is a good indicator of whether or not you'll enjoy the movie.

Like Peter Jackson’s former movies, this one is filled with fantastic CGI and set designs.  There is a lot of destruction, danger, and noise, which often prevents good character development and emotional impact.  We’re not given enough time and aren’t given enough information about some of the characters to really care about them. Some of the action scenes are too busy and it’s hard to tell what’s going on.

Hugo Weaving is so fun to watch in everything he does.  Most of the other actors are new to the Big Screen. The heroine with the American accent (Anna Fang) seems very out of place next to the grungy British characters of the dystopian world.

There are a lot of expository scenes to let you know what the heck is going on.  Some moments are just forced, dumb, or don’t make sense. Also, some of the dialogue was pretty lame.  If you have read the book, you’ll notice some changes in the story and you’ll probably also better understand the backstories and motivations of the characters.


  • Lots of violence and destruction.

  • A woman blows off a man’s head, among other brutal deaths.

  • Lots of people in perilous situations.

  • Shriker’s glaring green light eyes and mechanical skeleton face might scare young children.  He's kind of a more frightening Terminator-type machine, but with a heart…sometimes.  Make up your mind, writers!

  • This movie is really LOUD.

  • The female protagonist has a huge scar on her face and often covers it up, yet none of the other characters comment on it.  For people who feel especially self-conscious about their appearance, they'll really like that aspect of the film.


  • Courage

  • Revenge

  • Humanity

  • Friendship

Hester Snow, the protagonist in the film learns to open her heart, trust others, and become a better person.  

Mortal Engines director Peter Jackson also gave us The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Our own Jonathan Decker won the Brigham Young University talent show by bringing these to life. 

Trina Boice is an author of 23 books and teaches online for BYU-Idaho in the Pathway program.  She received the Young Mother of the Year honor in 2004, an award that completely amuses her 4 sons. She’s a popular international speaker in China and writes movie reviews at You can find her books on Amazon, and at

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