Does the “Mortal Engines” Trailer Look Stupid?

Matthew Loffhagen
(Photo: Universal)

Does the brand new trailer for “Mortal Engines” look really stupid, or wonderfully fun?

I can’t quite get a read on this one.

Most of the time, it’s really easy to spot whether a film is good or bad from its trailer. Or, at least, whether it’s passable or bad.

If a film’s trailer is bad, the film is probably bad too. If there’s not enough cool stuff to fill a two minute trailer, the movie probably isn’t worth watching.

The trailer for “Mortal Engines”, though, looks like it could go either way.

There’s a lot that makes it look like a typical hokey, over-the-top big budget book adaptation.

These rarely look particularly good. For some reason, books, Young Adult fiction specifically, always look a little overly workshopped when they reach the big screen.

At the same time though, I’m aware that there’s some fun stuff in here.

A Whole New World

I’ve personally never read “Mortal Engines”, and I suspect the trailer knows this. Clearly, the expectation is that the premise is a mystery to most people, as otherwise this first look at the film wouldn’t focus so heavily on worldbuilding and plot details.

With that focus, though, comes the need for audiences to digest a novel’s worth of exposition in a single two-minute period.

Okay, so there was an apocalypse, and now entire giant mechanic cities roam around “Mad Max” style? And also there’s some kind of cult leader who killed someone’s mother? And there’s a bigger conspiracy and also some kid got kicked off a balcony so he’s coming along for the ride for some reason?

Mortal Engines Movie
Source: Universal

Wait, now there are flying things buzzing around in the sky as well? Huh? What’s going on?!

There’s a lot in here, and I can’t say I think it’s presented very well. The trailer jumps between all these big concepts so quickly that it’s hard for the uninitiated to keep up.

I feel like these surprises could be much better in the movie itself, when they’re given room to breathe. Perhaps mashing every big spectacle in the movie into a trailer doesn’t work with this particular film.

Plus, I trust Peter Jackson. Sure, he’s made some corporate shlock in his time (hi, “Hobbit” trilogy), but I don’t blame him for that.

This seems like more of a passion project, and even if it does feature a lot of CGI, I’m willing to assume he’s not gone full George Lucas just yet.

Heck, I even wonder if George Lucas himself has really gone full George Lucas, but that’s a discussion for another article.

What’s the Takeaway?

So is “Mortal Engines” going to be a good movie?

Based on this trailer, I really don’t know. It could go either way.

This all looks a little stupid, but in the right context, it might just work. It’s too soon to tell which side of the fence this is going to land on.

It’s kind of nice not to know in advance what’s going to happen for once. Here’s hoping Peter Jackson manages to stick the landing in spite of a ramshackle first trailer.