Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Mortal Engines 4K Ultra HD Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
Mortal Engines, based on the award-winning book series by Phillip Reeve, is now available to own on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital. The director, Christian Rivers, is an Oscar winning visual effects artist (King Kong). The creative team behind the Lord of the Rings films (Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyens) was on board to bring you this epic tale of post-apocalyptic moving cities.

Film (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Mortal Engines stars Hera Hilmar as heroine Hester Shaw. Hester has been searching for Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo Weaving), the man who killed her mother when she was a very young girl. The film takes place in the remnants of a world destroyed during the Sixty Minute War. The surviving population lives primarily in mobile civilizations. These predator cities hunt down and absorb the resources and manpower from weaker cities. London is one of the large predator cities, and Thaddeus Valentine runs it. 

Apprentice historian Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan) has always looked up to Valentine. But when Tom learns of the murder he is ejected with Hester. The key to survival in this world is to keep moving so being left behind is practically a death sentence. Luckily for Tom, Hester knows how to navigate in the dirt. Hester is running from the human-cyborg hybrid known as Shrike. She will show Tom that the rebel Anna Fang (Jihae) isn’t what he thought. He’ll spend time navigating the Great Hunting Ground and eventually meet and join members of the anti-faction league.

I never read the books, and therefore didn’t have a pre-conceived idea of what this film would be. It’s incredibly interesting to see what this world is like and how people have adapted. I felt like I was missing a lot of history though when the action started up. I wished I’d had some backstory and would have liked to have seen this film split into two, so it could be better developed. The film is very well cast. Hugo Weaving does a great job of being likable and worthy of hatred. This wasn’t a world like that of Lord of The Rings, where you can get lost. Knowing Peter Jackson was attached to the project set my sights a bit too high. The predator cities are characters of their own, and they are incredibly interesting.
Video (5 out of 5 stars)
The 4K UHD version of Mortal Engines is remarkably sharper than the included Blu-ray. Considering the fact that the Blu-ray looks great, this is an exceptional 4K offering. Actor close ups reveal clothing textures and skin imperfections with fine detail that’s truly impressive. The recycled nature of London’s components and the aged appearance of the historical tech makes everything feel authentic. In ultra high definition, the viewer can appreciate the depth of colors and the visual range the film offers. The airborne city offers a magnificent number of shades of red and orange. The reference quality 4K UHD presentation does not disappoint in any way.
Audio (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Although not perfect, the audio presentation is well above average. The Dolby Atmos soundtrack fairs very well as you listen to London barrel down on a smaller city. All channels are put to heavy use with this film. The London public announcement system sounds authentic. Airships whizz past and action rings true. Dialogue is intelligible, but I expected a bit more power from the audio presentation overall.
Extras (4 out of 5 stars)
The Blu-ray contains the following bonus content:
  • End of the Ancients (3:14) – A tour of the Hall of Ancient Technology in the London Museum provides a history lesson.
  • Character Series (21:43 total runtime) – Available with play all functionality or individually is a profile with cast and crew input of the following: Hester Shaw, Tom Natsworthy, Anna Fang, Thaddeus Valentine and Shrike.
  • Welcome to London (26:19 total runtime) – Actor Robert Sheehan leads a tour of the following: Building the Beast, Levels of London, The Smallest Details, London Museum and Medusa and St. Paul’s. Can be accessed individually or with play all function. This feature is also available on 4K UHD. 
  • In the Air (4:53) – A look at the airborne cities and air ships.
  • Film New Zealand (3:52) – Filming in Wellington and everything special that goes into a New Zealand film.
  • Feature Commentary – Director Christian Rivers provides feature length audio commentary which includes technical information, story details and location information. Also available on 4K UHD.
Summary (4 out of 5 stars)
While I enjoyed what I saw, I can’t help thinking Mortal Engines could have been so much more. Maybe it’s because I was more interested in the cities than the character. Maybe too much information was being squeezed into too little screen time. This is definitely a film worth watching. Time will tell if I enjoy it more with repeated viewings. The good news is that knowing the plot arch doesn’t ruin it for me. The 4K UHD looks amazing so if you’re a fan of the film, I recommend shelling out the extra bucks for the 4K version. Extras are well thought out, and a select few items are available on 4K, while the Blu-ray contains everything else. Recommended.

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