ByRedmond Bacon, writer at
Have realised my dream of finally living in Berlin. I like movies, techno, and talking too much in bars.

It has been two years since the last Peter Jackson movie, The Battle Of The Five Armies, which concluded the uneven Hobbit Trilogy. Yet now there is reason to get excited, with news breaking that the film adaptation of the Mortal Engines Quartet by Philip Reeve is finally ready to go. Peter Jackson has been talking about adapting this for over 7 years now, so its great to see him finally getting the backing he needs to start the project. Only someone with as vast an imagination as Peter Jackson could bring such books to life. He posted the news on Facebook yesterday:

The novelist of the series, Philip Reeve, is also excited for the project, having turned down previous offers in favor of Jackson. As he says of him and his collaborators:

“I’m thrilled that Christian, Fran, Philippa and Peter are bringing my book to the screen. They’ve created some of the most memorable imaginary worlds in modern cinema, so I can’t wait to experience their vision of the world of Mortal Engines.”

Whilst the film is only in pre-production at the moment, we can't expect a release date for at least another couple of years, especially for an undertaking this vast. Yet, what do we know so far about the project? Here are the details:

1. Peter Jackson Isn't Directing

Rivers Won An Oscar For His Visual Effects Here. WingNut Films.
Rivers Won An Oscar For His Visual Effects Here. WingNut Films.

As he says in the Facebook post, the directing duties have been handed over to Jackson's protege Christian Rivers, who has been his collaborator for over twenty-four years. First acting as an creature effects technician for gore-fest Dead Alive, he moved to storyboard artist for Heavenly Creatures before being in charge of visual effects in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy and King Kong, the latter of which won him an Oscar. After that he was a second-unit director on the last two Hobbit movies and the Disney non-Jackson film break-out Pete's Dragon.

Having moved around the different aspects of production for Jackson, he is in a prime position to be the man in charge this time round. Jackson sure thinks he has got what it takes:

“Christian is one of my closest collaborators. The combination of emotion and jaw-dropping visuals in Mortal Engines makes this the perfect movie for his move into feature directing. What Christian intends to do with Philip Reeve’s terrific story is going to result in an original and spectacular movie. I wish I could see it tomorrow!"

2. It's Being Filmed In New Zealand

As per the course for a Peter Jackson production, the film is going to be photographed on his home turf, utilising the natural beauty of New Zealand to provide its thrills. Jackson has in fact filmed at least some part of all his films in New Zealand. Famously, for The Frighteners, which was his first big-budget Hollywood production, he forced the studio to film the entire movie in New Zealand despite being an American-set story. Perhaps, just like you can visit and walk around parts of the Middle-Earth set in New Zealand, we will see something similar happen again.

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3. The Source Material Has The Potential To Match The Lord Of The Rings

The Steampunk novels take part in a future dystopian world, where traditional countries have been more or less eliminated, and now cities are mounted onto wheels and evolve by dismantling others for resources. In order to move around, one has to fly an airship between cities. The closest film comparison I can think off the top of my head which comes close to this is the films of Miyazaki such as Howl's Moving Castle and Laputa: Castle In The Sky, the latter of which also had a raised civilization that was only accessible by air.

Yet those brilliant films were animated. This will be even more stunning if the transition to live-action is done well. Additionally, the potential for turning it into a huge multi-billion dollar franchise is massive, if the marketing is innovative and the casting decisions smart and diverse, potentially even bettering the success of The Lord Of The Rings movies. Additionally, unlike The Hobbit, there are actually four novels to base it on, as opposed to one slim book that was stretched out within an inch of its life. Additionally:

4. At Its Heart Is An Epic Love Story

Part of the draw of the novels, and what sets the storyline off, is the epic love affair between London orphan Tom Natsworthy and the mysterious young woman known as Hester Shaw, who hails from The Outlands. Over the novel they travel this strange and hollowed-out world together, looking for solutions to its ever-emerging crises.

As Rivers says of the project:

“At its heart... it’s a beautiful love story and a richly complex character driven adventure."

Technically there is romance in Lord Of The Rings: Aragorn had a fling with Eowyn before saying she couldn't do much fighting cause she's a woman, and he also had a haunting, yet rushed-in-the-film, relationship with Arwen. Nevertheless, romance wasn't really the main draw with the The Lord of The Rings films. It really had a lot more to do with bromances such as those between Pippin and Merry, Sam and Frodo, Gimli and Legolas. And let's not even talk about the shoehorned in love story in the Hobbit movies.

With the Mortal Engines films, having a love story that drives the plot may be the thing that gives it its enduring strength and makes it a worldwide success. I, for one, can't wait to see it!


What Will The Mortal Engines Films Be?


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