‘Mortal Engines’: Christian Rivers on Managing the Pressure of Directing His First Feature

     December 14, 2018

Mortal Engines may be Christian Rivers‘ feature directorial debut, but he knows a thing or two about bringing a highly imaginative, sci-fi/fantasy world to the big screen. He scored an Academy Award for Best Achievement in Visuals Effects for his work on King Kong and he also worked on all three The Lord of the Rings movies and all three The Hobbit installments. But, now it’s time for him to take the reins and helm his own feature, and the pressure was on.

Based on the acclaimed book series by Philip ReeveMortal Engines takes place on a version of Earth that’s suffered a cataclysmic event, leading to a significant portion of the population choosing to live on rolling towns and cities called “traction cities.” That’s where we find one of our main characters, Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan). He’s eager to please and an impassioned citizen of the traction city London, but when he comes to realize that one of London’s leaders has a sinister agenda, he’s forced to reassess his devotion to home sweet home.


Image via Universal Pictures

With Mortal Engines hitting theaters nationwide on November 14th, I got the chance to chat with Rivers and he told me all about how he wound up working with Peter Jackson, the biggest challenges he faced directing his first feature, whether there’s room to play on the set of such a visual effects-heavy production, and more. You can catch all of that in the video interview at the top of this article and if you’re looking for more Mortal Engines content, browse the links below:

Here’s the official synopsis for Mortal Engines:

Hundreds of years after civilization was destroyed by a cataclysmic event, a mysterious young woman, Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar), emerges as the only one who can stop London — now a giant, predator city on wheels — from devouring everything in its path. Feral, and fiercely driven by the memory of her mother, Hester joins forces with Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan), an outcast from London, along with Anna Fang (Jihae), a dangerous outlaw with a bounty on her head.


Mortal Engines is the startling, new epic adventure directed by Oscar®-winning visual-effects artist Christian Rivers (King Kong). Joining Rivers are The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogies three-time Academy Award®-winning filmmakers Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, who have penned the screenplay. Visual effects are created by a Weta Digital team led by Ken McGaugh, Kevin Smith, Luke Millar and Dennis Yoo. The Universal and MRC adaptation is from the award-winning book series by Philip Reeve, published in 2001 by Scholastic.

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