The latest rumors have it that Peter Jackson’s next
movie is going to be an adaptation of Mortal Engines, the first
book in a series of sci-fi novels aimed at children aged 12 and up.
According to Wikipedia the book is set in a
post-apocalyptic steampunk world, ravaged in ages past by a nuclear
holocaust known as the “Sixty Minute War,” which caused massive geological
To escape the earthquakes, volcanoes and other
instabilities, a Nomad leader called Nikola Quercus, who changed his name
to Nikolas Quirke, designed a system known as Municipal Darwinism, where
entire cities essentially become immense vehicles known as Traction
Cities, and must consume one another in order to maintain themselves in a
world deprived of most natural resources.
The main character of Mortal Engines is Tom
Natsworthy, a fifteen-year old orphan who is pushed out of London by the
man he most admires and must seek answers in the perilous Out-Country,
aided by one girl and the memory of another.
“Reeve's prose is sweeping and cinematic,” one
reviewer said of the books. “He deftly weaves in social commentary on the
perils of both war and consumerism.”
By the way, the title is a quotation from William
Shakespeare’s Othello: “And O you mortal engines whose rude throats /
Th'immoral Jove's dread clamors counterfeit...” The four books in the
series are Mortal Engines (2001), Predator's Gold, Infernal Devices, and A
Darkling Plain (2006) as well as the prequel Fever Crumb. The series is
known as the Hungry City Chronicles in the States.
A Jackson spokesman did not confirm or deny that
Mortal Engines will be Jackson’s next project and that Weta Workshops
are already working on designs for the giant mobile cities. “Any comment
should come from Peter,” the spokesman said.
Jackson apparently bought the rights to the novels
quite a while back.
In Hollywood you’re only as good as your last movie,
which is bad news for Peter Jackson. His adaptation of The Lovely Bones
may appear to be the sort of drama that shouldn’t cost too much money to
make. After all, it is a drama about a girl who is brutally killed by a
serial killer and then watches from heaven how her friends and family cope
with their grief over her murder.
Only problem is that Jackson spent a fortune on
creating a CGI heaven for the movie and the project is said to have cost
in excess of $100 million – usually the sort of budget spent on
blockbusters. The Lovely Bones is however meant to be a “prestige”
project that will attract awards and critical acclaim. Critics however
hate the movie with a passion and it is unlikely to win any Oscars for the
So what does this mean? Probably nothing. Will
Hollywood still throw huge amounts of cash at the maker of
Lord of the Rings? Or
will a voice in the back of their heads go, “Listen, didn’t this guy
direct The Lovely Bones and doesn’t this whole story sound
suspiciously a lot like The Golden
Compass, an expensive flop also based on a children’s fantasy novel?”
To be honest we’re more excited about
Temeraire, the other project Jackson is
rumored to be working on right now, which is about an alternate reality in
which the Napoleonic Wars were fought by dragon riders. This is something
which Jackson’s WETA outfit probably has down right pat now that they have
done the effects for James Cameron’s
Avatar . . .