In a “post post-apocalyptic world,” as writer and producer Peter Jackson described it, countries are no more and mobile city-states known as “Traction Cities” traverse what is left of Europe, Northern Africa, the Arctic and Antarctica, and some parts of Asia. They function under “Municipal Darwinism,” a system in which larger Traction Cities consume smaller ones with jaw-like mechanics and take them apart for fuel and parts.
When the powerhouse Traction City of London catches the small mining city of Salthook, they knowingly take aboard Hester Shaw, an rogue orphan driven by vengeance. She comes across Thaddeus Valentine, Head Historian of London and murderer of her mother, and she attempts to assassinate him, setting the plot into action.
The Mortal Engines panel at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden began with an introduction by actor, director, and moderator Andy Serkis, followed by a 25-minute preview of the highly anticipated film. From this small introduction, this film looks to be incredible. An action-packed story with gorgeous cinematography and compelling characters, this is not your dime-a-dozen dystopian fiction. The clip ended on a cliffhanger that had the audience ready to hear from the cast and creators as well as see the movie when it comes out this winter.
The guests then came on stage and each talked about their aspect of the movie, whether that be their character or role in the creative process. Hera Hilmar, who plays title character Hester Shaw, talked about how she discovered the role and what drew her to it. “They asked me, ‘Are you interested in portraying her?’ and I said, ‘Hell, yeah!'” said Hilmar. “Being allowed to be a female heroine that can be on that scale was the dream for me.”
Hester’s counterpart in the story is Tom Natsworthy, an apprentice historian played by Robert Sheehan. He has had a sheltered upbringing – or as sheltered of an upbringing as one could have on a moving steampunk city. Though his parents have passed before the start of the film, Sheehan noted, “They gave him an unquenchable cheerfulness in this very dark world; he has a very strong spirit.” How Tom fits into Hester’s revenge plans remain to be seen.
The panelists could not reveal much, given that the film is not out yet, but they did debut a brand new trailer. Afterwards, Hugo Weaving, who plays the film’s antagonist Thaddeus Valentine, appeared remotely onscreen from Australia with a special message for fans – they can enter for a chance to win two tickets to the Los Angeles premiere by tweeting #MortalEnginesNYCC. As the panel concluded, the actors and creators were met with a rousing applause from the audience – book fans and excited movie fans alike.
Mortal Engines is out in theaters on December 14, 2018. Check out the brand new trailer now!