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Feature FilmVFX

Weta Artist Christian Rivers Makes His Feature Debut With ‘Mortal Engines’ (Trailer)

There are some film ideas that can only be realized with plenty of visual effects, and judging by its first trailer, Mortal Engines is one of them.

Set in a post-apocalyptic future, thousands of years after civilization has been destroyed, humankind has adapted to a new form of living: with gigantic cities-on-wheels (called traction cities) roaming the Earth, scrambling for limited resources and preying upon smaller traction towns.

The film is based on a series of novels by Philip Reeve, but for me, the image of a moving city instantly evokes John Hubley’s animated short Urbanissimo (1967), which brilliantly depicts the spread of urbanization and the strain that it puts on nature and the environment.

Obviously, Mortal Engines is a much darker incarnation of the vision of a moving city. In the film, Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan) — who hails from a Lower Tier of the traction city of London — finds himself fighting for his own survival after he encounters the dangerous fugitive Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar), with whom he eventually becomes allied.

Weta vfx artist Christian Rivers makes his feature directorial debut on Mortal Engines. A protégé of Peter Jackson, Rivers has storyboarded most of Jackson’s films. Jackson adapted the Mortal Engine books into a screenplay with Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, and he also serves as one of the film’s producers.

Weta Digital is producing the film’s vfx. Universal Pictures will release Mortal Engines in U.S. theaters on December 14, 2018.

  • Thalesourus

    Based on the trailer, it looks Monty Pythonesque but without the humor. Some of the camera angles also remind me of the opening of Otomo’s Robot Carnival.

    • Metarean

      The books aren’t comedies, but they do have their own sense of humour. Not Monty Python, though it is a British quirk. I’m hoping the film keeps that.

  • secretgoldfish

    Wasn’t Peter once championing a Dam Busters film for Christian to direct?

    Good for Christian, a major, important and long term part of the Weta team/magic.

  • Jen

    I saw this in theaters and immediately thought it was Mad Max: Fury Road meets Howl’s Moving Castle. :X
    Excited to see it. I’ll go to the theater to see an original big budget idea for sure.

  • I swear, Christian is a WWI or WWII period piece that was released as a feature. Maybe it wasn’t in the US, but it’s still a feature release.

  • Fabrice D*

    Mad Max paved the way? Looks interesting, also reminds me of Howl’s moving castle.