Peter Jackson brings 'Lord of the Rings' feel to new fantasy epic 'Mortal Engines'

Peter Jackson has already conquered the world of J.R.R. Tolkien, but that doesn’t mean he’s finished with fantasy epics, as evidenced by his latest endeavor, Mortal Engines — an adaptation of the first of author Philip Reeve’s four-part young adult series about a post-apocalyptic world in which humanity resides in giant, hulking mobile cities. It’s a steampunk premise that has the vehicular-wasteland vibe of Mad Max, and as its new trailer suggests, it’ll be one of the winter’s biggest tentpole releases — and potentially the beginning of a new franchise.

Unlike its plot-light first tease, Mortal Engines’ latest promo gives us the basic premise of Christian Rivers’s film (which was co-written and produced by Jackson). After a war that has left mankind in dire straits and woefully short on resources, people now live in rolling metropolises led by London, which actually has the capacity to devour its smaller municipal brethren. Masking her scarred face, the heroine, Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar), infiltrates London in search of Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo Weaving), a mysterious man whom she tries to kill, in vain. For her failed efforts, she is thrust out into the grand middle of nowhere with her compatriot Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan). The reason for her assassination attempt, it’s clear, is revenge, as Valentine apparently tried to kill Hester’s mother. But even more problematic, it seems, is Valentine’s mission to attain the power to destroy all other mobile cities — thus making him a genocidal sort of sci-fi villain.

With CGI effects to spare, Mortal Engines should certainly be a grand sort of digital adventure that doesn’t skimp on spectacle. You can check out its trailer above, and see the film in theaters on Dec. 14.

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