I can remember years ago when I first saw the preview of the lead film of Peter Jackson’s LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy. The New Zealand director’s vision of my favorite fantasy world seemed to match my own exactly, and I sat in the theater absolutely gob-smacked by what I was seeing on the screen. I was so filled with excitement and anticipation I was like a kid waiting for Christmas; the months until The Fellowship of the Ring debuted stretched out ahead like an endless desert of time.
|One of the nomadic cities in Mortal Engines takes to the air.|
Well, Jackson has done it again, this time offering up a visual delight that is even more jaw-dropping given that it is unexpected. At least, I had no idea this film was coming until I saw the preview in the theater as I waited for the much more mundane Duane Johnson action pic SKYSCRAPER a few days ago. The LOTR director is adapting (but not directing—that job is going to his longtime storyboarder, Christian Rivers) the British young-adult SF novel Mortal Engines by Phillip Reeve, a post-apocalyptic/steampunk mash-up about huge, nomadic, predatory cities. Jackson’s co-writers from LOTR, Phillipa Boyens and Fran Walsh, are sharing screenwriting duties with him, and word is that the romance elements of the story have been accentuated, with the protagonists aged appropriately for the beefier story.
And you would not believe the beautiful decayed-glory-remade-into-scary-tech eye candy of this film! I was immediately reminded of Meljean Brook’s Iron Duke series, also set in an alternate-universe London, or Zoe Archer’s The Ether Chronicles, which features balletic air battles between zeppelins. We’ll see all of this onscreen in Mortal Engines. Let me tell you, I cannot wait!
The only problem is that, once again, a young-adult novel had to serve as the basis of this wonderful science fiction film. The SFR series I mentioned above are only two of many that have been around for a long time that would have served just as well—and they wouldn’t have required massive rewriting to have two grown-ups carrying the weight of a serious plot. With a romantic element.
Just wondering when the film industry will get the message that science fiction is NOT just for teenagers.