Three Classic Genre Films Helped Shape Mortal Engines As A Movie

Mortal Engines London

Mortal Engines is a film based on a rather crazy concept. Described as a post-post-apocalyptic film, the story finds societies moving on to giant mobile cities that grow by assimilating/consuming smaller communities for their resources. It's a big idea that's tricky to sell, but director Christian Rivers has an interesting way of describing it. As he described during an on-set interview, the trick is finding the sweet spot between three extremely popular franchises:

When we were looking for partners to make the film, I drew a triangle between Mad Max, Harry Potter, and Star Wars. And I said, 'This film needs to land in the middle of those three.' It won't be any one of those, but that's a target there. There's an aesthetic that we're sort of looking for, which felt right for the stories.

Last summer I joined a small group of journalists flying out to Wellington, New Zealand to visit the set of Mortal Engines when it was still in production -- and it was during that trip that we had the chance to sit down with Christian Rivers. During the interview the filmmaker was asked about his approach to "Young Adult" source material (it's based on the book series by author Philip Reeve), and it was in his explanation that he offered a simple explanation of the target that the movie is trying to hit genre-wise.

Watching the most recent trailer for Mortal Engines, you can start to see how the three major cinematic influences coalesce into the film's look. On the Mad Max front, it's hard to ignore the desert aesthetic being roamed by roaring machines. As for Harry Potter, you very much get the vibe from the museum and fantastical history; while Star Wars influences can be found in the rebellious protagonists trying to take down a corrupt system. The new film doesn't appear to precisely and specifically ape anything that fans know and love from these inspirational franchises, but you can also easily see how they play a part in its DNA

You can see for yourself watching the Mortal Engines trailer below:

Produced by Peter Jackson, Mortal Engines is positioned to be one of the big blockbusters at the end of the year, scheduled to hit theaters on December 14th. The impressive cast is led by Robert Sheehan and Hera Hilmar as heroes Tom Natsworthy and Hester Shaw, with the supporting cast including greats like Hugo Weaving, Stephen Lang, and Colin Salmon. We'll have more from our time on the set for you in the coming days, so stay tuned here on CinemaBlend!

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.