If this year has shown us anything, it's that movies not based on superhero properties can still do big business at the box office. And almost no one is better with an epic blockbuster than Peter Jackson. He's currently at work on the production of MORTAL ENGINES, directed by Christian Rivers. But Jackson isn't in a hands-off EP role here; he also wrote the script, which is based on the novel by Philip Reeve.
MORTAL ENGINES just released its first teaser trailer online (it's already playing in front of STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (in some theaters), and it's about as visually stunning as you'd expect from something with Jackson's hand in it. Check it out:
One part Mad Max, two parts steampunk, with a dash of Western flavor? I'm into it. Based on the aforementioned Reeve novel, the official synopsis describes a dystopian future where—as it happens in post-apocalyptic stories—people struggle to survive:
“Thousands of years after civilization was destroyed by a cataclysmic event, humankind has adapted and a new way of living has evolved. Gigantic moving cities now roam the Earth, ruthlessly preying upon smaller traction towns. Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan)—who hails from a Lower Tier of the great traction city of London—finds himself fighting for his own survival after he encounters the dangerous fugitive Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar). Two opposites, whose paths should never have crossed, forge an unlikely alliance that is destined to change the course of the future.”
The cast is interesting, too, with a real mix of talent. Hugo Weaving and Stephen Lang are the grizzled veterans of the cast, and young Robert Sheehan, who has been a busy boy this year, will be on our screens again. But quite a few others in the lineup are relative newcomers, including Hera Hilmar and South Korean-born singer-turned-actress Jihae. Personally, I love this trend of seeing less well-known names getting shots at tentpoles, and spectacle films offering us a more diverse cast than recycling the same handful of A-list stars over and over. More of this, please.
Cast aside, we certainly need studios making more standalone tentpoles in Hollywood rather than relying on the same franchises to sell their stories. Hopefully Mortal Engine's unfamiliar world and sci-fi dystopia will be received more like Mad Max: Fury Road, and less like Waterworld. Time will tell, but it's great to see a studio (thanks to Universal and MRC) taking chances on a new and untested property.
MORTAL ENGINES hits theaters on December 14, 2018.