Peter Jackson has unveiled the first concept art for the upcoming film adaptation, Mortal Engines. In Philip Reeve's futuristic Mortal Engines novel series, Earth is a dying planet and humans have taken to roaming the land in giant moving cities, battling each other over what precious resources remain. Protagonist Tom Natsworthy lives in one of these giant cities (named Traction City), but his life takes a turn when he encounters a mysterious young rebel woman from the Outlands.
Renowned fantasy filmmaker Jackson has taken on the task of producing the film adaptation of Reeve's first Mortal Engines book, with long-time Jackson collaborator Christian Rivers directing from a script written by Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens. For the first time, Jackson has given us a glimpse of his vision for the unique and fascinating dystopian world created in Reeve's books.
On his Facebook page, Jackson posted a single piece of concept art from Mortal Engines (see below), showing a female character perched on a cliff looking down on one of the story's moving cities as it plows across a scarred and tortured landscape. The woman depicted in the artwork here is presumably Hester Shaw, the Outlander who arrives in Traction City and changes Tom Natsworthy's fate. There is an inescapable Mad Max feel to the image, though there is also more than a hint of the Tolkienesque as well (which is to be expected from Jackson).
The casting process for Mortal Engines has been going in in earnest for some time, with Robbie Sheehan (Fortitude) taking on the role of Tom Natsworthy and Hera Hilmar (Anna Karenina) cast as Hester Shaw. Peter Jackson regular Hugo Weaving (Lord of the Rings) has also joined the cast, along with Ronan Raferty (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), Stephen Lang (Avatar), Leila George (Mother, May I Sleep With Danger?), Colin Salmon (London Has Fallen) and Jihae (Mars).
Mortal Engines sounds like it has the makings of another visually impressive fantasy saga from Peter Jackson, but the story with its YA trappings could give one cause for concern. After initially being hot commodities with films like The Hunger Games, the bubble has burst on dystopian YA fantasy stories, so much so that the much-hyped Divergent movie series was totally derailed and will now be wrapped up on television (without lead actress Shailene Woodley).
With four books in the Mortal Engines series, there's plenty of material for Jackson and his team to adapt well into the future. But it remains to be seen if audiences who rejected Divergent and even the final entry in the Hunger Games series will embrace another story set in the far future involving young characters engaged in desperate battles against terrifyingly powerful forces - even one with the Peter Jackson name attached to it.
Source: Peter Jackson
- Mortal Engines (2018) release date: Dec 14, 2018