Follow TV Tropes


Film / Mortal Engines

Go To

Mortal Engines is a 2018 post-apocalyptic adventure film based on the Steampunk novel of the same name by Philip Reeve. It is directed by Christian Rivers and co-written and produced by Peter Jackson. It stars Hera Hilmar, Robert Sheehan, Hugo Weaving and Stephen Lang.

In a post-apocalyptic world, entire cities have been mounted on wheels and motorised, and prey on one another. Tom Natsworthy (Sheehan), a sixteen-year-old Londoner, gets in the way of an attempt by the mysterious masked woman Hester Shaw (Hilmar) to kill Thaddeus Valentine (Weaving), a powerful man she blames for her mother's murder, and both Hester and Tom must fend for themselves.

Peter Jackson purchased the rights to the book in 2009, but the film languished for several years before being officially announced in 2016. Filming took place from April to July 2017 in New Zealand. The film had its world premiere on November 27, 2018 in London, was theatrically released in Australia and New Zealand on December 6, 2018 and in the United States on December 14, 2018.


Mortal Engines provides examples of:

  • 1-Dimensional Thinking: In the opening scene, when the town of Salzhaken is trying to escape London, it makes a rapid U-turn and races directly away from London instead of veering off to the side, which might have allowed it to gain a significant lead while the larger and less maneuverable city was turning to pursue it.
  • The Ace: Extraordinary pilot, One-Man Army in close combat, anti-Tractionist leader who all the pilots defer to (and who has the Governor's ear) - there's little Anna Fang can't seem to do.
  • Action Girl: Anna really shines in this regard, slaughtering the slaver guards of Rustwater with ease, going toe-to-toe with Shrike (albeit unsuccessfully) and engaging in an epic duel with Valentine near the film's end, to distract him while Hester shuts down MEDUSA. She's also an Ace Pilot, flying the Jenny Haniver in the final battle against London's defences.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness:
    • While Hester Shaw in the film does still have a large and nasty scar on her face, it's nowhere near as disfiguring as that of her book counterpart, who is missing one eye and most of her nose.
    • In the book Herbert Melliphant is described as being quite fat, with a florid red face. Here he's played by Andrew Lees, who is quite handsome.
    • The Guild marks all London characters sport on their foreheads in the novel are absent, meaning that aside from their uniforms everyone looks normal. Bevis especially gets this, as in the book being an Engineer means you get your head chemically treated to kill hair growth, rendering all of them permanently bald.
    • London itself. In the book it's frequently described as a squalid mass visually, with the lower tiers wreathed in smoke from the chimneys of the numerous factories. In the film it looks hugely more impressive with the giant lion track guards and gleaming buildings.
  • Adaptational Badass: In the book London is powerful, but still has a lot to fear from larger cities, and spends a full decade hiding from them in what was once Britain until it gets MEDUSA up and running. In the film it's implied London is the pre-eminent traction city, with little to fear from other settlements.
  • Adaptation Deviation: Notably, the ending isn't as dark as that of the book: London isn't destroyed by the misfiring MEDUSA, and while it's depowered by Tom destroying its reactor, the population survives. Also, Katherine isn't accidentally killed by Valentine in the fighting surrounding MEDUSA, and survives to lead the Londoners in making peace with Shan Guo.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job:
    • Katherine Valentine was black haired in the book, but blonde here.
    • In the novel it's established that all of London's engineers are kept bald, and this includes Bevis Pod who in the film has black hair with grey flecks.
    • In a more fantastical example, the cyborg Shrike lacks the dreadlocks made out of cables that he had in the books.
  • Adaptational Heroism: In the books Magnus Crome is as culpable as Valentine over developing MEDUSA as a weapon for London. In the film he's still by no means a good person, but he's oblivious to Valentine's plans until the weapon has been completed, and is killed by Valentine when he tries to put a stop to it.
  • Adaptation Name Change:
    • The small mining town eaten by London at the beginning of the story is called Salthook in the book, but Salzhaken (still Salthook, but translated into German) here.
    • The town of Speedwell from the novel is renamed Scuttlebug for the film.
    • A minor change involving a minor character, but in the book the governor of the Shield-Wall is named Khan; in the film, he's called Kwan.
  • Adaptation Relationship Overhaul:
    • In the book, Tom developed a crush on Katherine the moment he met her, although this gradually went away over the course of the story as he and Hester grew closer. Nothing of the sort is even hinted at in the movie.
    • In the books, there's no indication that Pandora Rae a.k.a Pandora Shaw - Hester Shaw's mother and Anna Fang knew each other or had even met. In the film they were close friends and allies to the point where Anna spent years trying to find Hester after Pandora’s death.
    • In the book, Tom and Bevis don't know each other and have no interactions with each other. In the film they appear to be casual acquaintances on a first name basis.
    • Katherine and Bevis were love interests to each other in the book, but in the film outside of one significant look when they first meet this isn't alluded to.
    • In the books, Katherine and Thaddeus Valentine were very close with one another, with Katherine describing Thaddeus as more like a best-friend than a father and is unwilling to believe that he could be involved with the MEDUSA plot until 2/3rds of the way through the novel. In turn Katherine functions as Thaddeus' Morality Pet to the point where her calling him out on his and Magnus Crome's plan to destroy Batmunhk Gompa and kill innocent people causes him to develop doubts about whether he's really doing the right thing. In the film this closeness is absent due to the two of them have only a few scenes together, with Katherine being immediately suspicious of her father the moment it seems he’s withholding information from her and near the climax Thaddeus only seems briefly swayed by her words before he chooses to ignore them and continue with his plan.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Thaddeus Valentine. While certainly no hero in the book, there Katherine's influence at least causes him to have pangs of conscience about what he's doing, and even makes a sort of peace with Hester when Katherine dies. In the movie he murders Magnus Crome to have London make war on Shan Guo with MEDUSA, tries to sacrifice London itself to destroy the Shield Wall and attempts to kill Hester in spite of knowing she's likely his daughter.
  • Adapted Out:
    • Katherine Valentine's pet wolf Dog does not appear in the movie.
    • Due to Tunbridge Wheels and everything related to it being left out of the movie, the town’s mayor Chrysler Peavy and his group of pirates are also absent.
    • As a side effect of Shrike never being brought to London in this adaptation, the other Stalkers created by Dr Trix from studying Shrike don't exist in the film's universe.
  • Advertising by Association: Trailers advertise the film as being from the filmmakers of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
  • Age Lift: In the book, Tom, Hester, Katherine and Bevis were all in their mid-teens. The film ages them up a few years, so they're in their twenties.
  • All Hail the Great God Mickey!: A brief gag shows that among the London Museum's artifacts is a set of "American deities" that are quickly revealed to be large Minions figurines.note 
  • Ambition Is Evil:
    • Valentine. He's even called out by Magnus Crome on this after gleefully noting the man who controls MEDUSA controls the world.
    • Also Herbert Melliphant, who sells out Tom's stash of Ancient tech to Valentine in return for a university posting, allowing Valentine to complete MEDUSA.
  • And This Is for...: Unusually for this trope it's at the start of the movie and sets off the plot. A Mysterious Woman stabs Thaddeus Valentine, saying "This is for Pandora Shaw."
  • Archnemesis Dad: Thaddeus Valentine is Hester's worst enemy, as well as her real father. By the end of the film, his other daughter Katherine also turns against him.
  • Badass and Child Duo: Shrike adopts Hester as a Replacement Goldfish for a child he can barely remember.
  • Badass Longcoat: Practically a world of them - Hester, Valentine, Anna and Shrike all sport them.
  • Big Bad: In a change from the novels, Thaddeus Valentine is the sole example here. He plans to recover MEDUSA and use it on the rest of the world to make London pre-eminent, murders Pandora and Crome when they try to stand against him and is ultimately responsible for the devastating attack on Shan Guo.
  • Bodyguard Betrayal: The commander of the London Beefeaters is working for Valentine, and locks the door to St Paul's Cathedral to prevent Magnus Crome from leaving.
  • Broken Pedestal: Both Tom and Katherine lose their respect for Valentine when they learned of his crimes.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Tom's aborted desire to become an aviator becomes crucial in the climax when he pilots the Jenny Haniver into London itself, destroying the city's engine to stop it ramming the shield wall.
  • Combat Pragmatist:
    • Anna has a both a hidden wrist blade and another blade in the heel of her boot to give her an edge in combat - in battle with Rustwater's slavers it turns an overhead kick into a One-Hit Kill.
    • In the climax Valentine uses The Reveal of his being Hester's father to distract and then disarm her. He even chides her for letting her guard down.
  • Composite Character: Valentine takes on his own role from the book (unsurprisingly), but also much of Magnus Crome's role as the Big Bad in resurrecting MEDUSA and scheming to use it to attack Shan Guo.
  • Creator Cameo: Philip Reeve has a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo as a civilian on the streets of Batmunkh Gompa.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Anna completely wipes the floor with the slaver guards of Rustwater despite being heavily outnumbered.
    • Subverted when Shrike takes on the Anti-Traction Leaguers; it's brutally one-sided at first, as Shrike's strength, speed and endurance mean even Anna's attacks just bounce off him - but once they realise a physical assault won't work, they use guile and teamwork to distract him long enough to plant a grenade on his leg, which temporarily disables him.
  • Cut the Safety Rope: Anna Fang turns up in her airship Just in Time to save Hester Shaw from Shrike, the Implacable Man Super Soldier that is chasing her. Hester then throws a rope to Tom Natsworthy so he can climb on board as well, but Shrike is able to catch the end of the rope and starts hauling them back. Fang throws a dagger to Hester so she can cut the rope, which will kill Tom. Instead she throws the knife to Tom, who fortunately catches it and cuts the rope below him.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Hester starts the film totally driven by revenge on Valentine, but starts to soften throughout the movie due to Tom's influence, saving his life after stating just a few minutes before she'd have abandoned him in a heartbeat after he refused to do the same to her. Comes to a head in the climax, where she realises how her quest to avenge her mother has made her Not So Different to the maniacal and unhinged Valentine, and chooses to live instead, escaping to be with Tom while Valentine gets crushed by the city's treads.
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • With Valentine promoted to the film's Big Bad, Magnus Crome becomes significantly less relevant outside of Valentine's killing him.
    • Katherine and Bevis are also hit by this, receiving far less attention than the book, where Katherine is a Supporting Protagonist (as well as The Heart for Valentine). This does lead to a happier ending for them, at least.
  • The Determinator: Somewhat a theme of the movie, as Anna can go to great lengths due to her being The Unfettered and fearing nothing, Hester's initial determination to kill Valentine leads to six months of planning and deliberately getting herself aboard a town eaten by London just so she can have a shot at him, while Thaddeus directly compares Hester's determination to his own - he takes a serious stab wound to the gut and is back at work on MEDUSA later that day.
  • Deuteragonist: Tom. In fact, his hero's journey is the most prominent character arc in the movie, even if the plot is Hester's Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: When Hester sees the shrine to Medusa in Shan Guo, realises the central eye is the same as the locket her mother gave her, and opens it to discover the crash drive for the MEDUSA system.
  • Film of the Book: Based on the 2001 novel of the same name.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Valentine starts off being able to good-naturedly hold his own with Tom on the value of historical objects they recover, and even makes a speech apologising to the residents of Salzhaken after their leader is assaulted by London's thugs - but as Bevis points out, he's only friendly until you get in his way. Hester and Tom find this out the hard way at different point in their lives.
  • Frankenstein's Monster: Shrike the undead Super Soldier. The Stalkers are regarded with abhorrence by Tom as some kind of Mad Science Ultimate Evil from the ancient world. Yet like the original monster Shrike has a gentle side that causes him to protect Hester as a little girl. Also he wants to create a companion like himself, though in this case a child, not a bride.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: According to Crome Valentine started in London as an outsider and gradually rose in prominence. By the film's climax he's murdered Crome to take control of London and tried to annihilate Shan Guo with MEDUSA.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Shrike's eyes glow such a bright green the glow can be seen underwater. Becomes Eye Lights Out when they fade enough to show his pupils as he's dying.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Anna Fang blasting a slave-trader's head off his shoulders with her Hand Cannon is not shown on-screen.
  • Go Through Me: Tom places himself between Hester and danger a couple of times. He's totally out of his depth so it doesn't actually work, especially against Shrike, but Hester seems to find the gesture endearing.
  • Hamster-Wheel Power: Tom Natsworthy has a hamster powering some of his Old Tech in his room in the Museum.
  • Hand Cannon: Several characters in the film, most notably Anna and Valentine, wield huge and drastically overpowered handguns; Thaddeus's in particular operates as a hand-sized minigun.
  • Happy Flashback: As Shrike is dying, he replays his memories of Hester growing up with him.
  • The Hero's Journey: Tom goes through it almost archetypally, to the point that he could be considered an expy of Luke Skywalker, if only A New Hope had been told from Leia's point of view. He's even the one that stops the Big Bad's last resort and kills him afterwards.
  • Heroic BSoD: Tom has a major one when the Governor of Shan Guo concludes the only way to save them from the MEDUSA-sporting London is to destroy it. As this basically entails destroying his home and killing the thousands of good people there, he basically just shuts down, walking through the streets of Shan Guo in a daze.
  • History Repeats: Valentine salvages and rebuilds MEDUSA, the weapon which devastated the ancient world, and plans to use it to obliterate London's enemies. When a horrified Crome invokes this trope, pointing out history has shown this is a very bad idea, Valentine sneeringly replies that history is dead, and only the future matters.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: After murdering the city control crew and setting London for a collision course with the Shield Wall and then making an escape by airship, Thaddeus ends up crashing in front of the tracks and is crushed to death.
  • Homage: The events of the climactic battle with London play out a bit differently in the film than in the book, and it may sound a bit familiar: a massive, mobile fortress armed with an ultra-powerful laser weapon is trying to use it to devastate the home base of the rebellion; it's assaulted by a grossly outnumbered fleet of pilots, who attack the anti-air defenses in order to allow a lone hero to slip in, get past the Big Bad (with help from their badass Combat Pragmatist friend) and hit its Achilles' Heel. Then, at the last possible moment, a somewhat dorky yet cute, orphaned Ace Pilot who's on his first real adventure after leaving behind his unremarkable life manages an extremely risky, difficult shot with an explosive from his vehicle that successfully wrecks the enormous battle station. Stop me if you've heard this one.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: Tom does a Spit Take after drinking Un Coffee with water filtered from the sewage tank. Earlier he expresses horror that they are eating a thousand year-old Twinkie and seeing Hester drinking from a muddy puddle.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Valentine's response when his daughter is Calling the Old Man Out. He knows that Municipal Darwinism is unsustainable, but refuses to believe that peace with the static Eastern cities is possible, so making London stronger than anything on Earth is the only way the city can survive.
  • Implacable Man: Shrike. Nothing on Earth will stop him from finding Hester and making her a Resurrected Man like him.
  • Informed Deformity: When Tom first sees Hester Shaw's face completely uncovered he reacts with a look of pure horror, and later when being sold as a slave her appearance is mocked by Wreyland as being hideous. This is in spite of the fact that Hester's "disfigurement" consists of a couple of lines across her cheek that are barely noticeable.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Shrike is a CGI creation, but his facial structure is very similar to that of Stephen Lang, who voiced him.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Knowing that Hester is a Broken Bird after her mother's death, Shrike offers to turn her into a cyborg like himself, so she will have no memories of the past. Hester is entirely OK with this, but breaks their agreement when she realises that Valentine is nearby and she can avenge her mother. Shrike is furious and pursues, but on realising that she has fallen in love with Tom, Shrike frees her from their agreement and accepts his own death.
  • Living Doll Collector: Shrike is a more sympathetic version, an undead Super Soldier that collects dolls because he still has vague memories of having had a child once. For this reason he acts as a Parental Substitute for an eight-year old Hester after her mother is murdered. Because Hester is a Broken Bird, he offers to heal her pain by killing her and resurrecting her as a cyborg like himself. Hester actually agrees, but when an opportunity for revenge on the man who killed her mother arises she flees instead. Shrike does not take this well and pursues her, determined to make her stick to their agreement.
  • The Load: Tom, at first. He's far, far less savvy than Hester at surviving in the wilderness, and nearly gets them both killed when he unwittingly flags down a pair of scavenger settlements. He's grown out of it by the film's end though.
  • Logo Joke: The globe in the Universal logo shows the Sixty Minute War, with explosions going off and massive cracks appearing in the continents.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: The climax of the film offers the heavy implication that, like in the books, Thaddeus Valentine is Hester Shaw's biological father, showing that he and her mother Pandora were romantically involved in the past, as well as him directly comparing her own personal drive and determination to his.
  • Made a Slave: Hester and Tom get put on the auction block at Rustwater, though Hester is deemed only useful for Human Resources due to her sliced-up face.
  • Mega-Maw Maneuver: London harpoons smaller mobile cities, then drags them inside to be cut up for their resources. Hester uses this to infiltrate London, by putting herself on a city in its path.
  • Mundane Solution: When MEDUSA is destroyed Valentine's Evil Plan has apparently been foiled, but he just sends his men to kill the city drivers and send London crashing into the weakened shield wall.
  • Mundane Utility: Undead cybernetic killing machine Shrike is shown using his razor-sharp steel talons to open cans.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Implied with Valentine and MEDUSA. London's method of capturing mobile settlements is brutal but not fatal for the populations. MEDUSA, on the other hand, is a weapon of mass destruction, and firing it guarantees immense damage and casualties to whatever it's fired at - by using it London is ensuring its survival by having the power to slaughter anyone that gets in their way.
  • Mythology Gag: In a nod to his being revealed as the Narrator All Along in the books, the film's opening monologue outlining the basics of the setting for us is spoken by Shrike.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Tom, especially in comparison to the cynical and very experienced Hester. He's never been outside London before the events of the film, so the audience is introduced to many of the film's concepts - scavenger towns, Airhaven and the Anti-Traction League, Shan Guo - through his eyes.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: If the heroes had failed to destroy Medusa, the weapon would likely have blown up anyway because it is being fired too quickly by an impatient Valentine, who keeps ignoring the weapon's and his assistants' warning messages.
  • No Kill Like Overkill:
    • On discovering that Shrike intends to kill Hester Shaw, Valentine sinks the entire prison he's in, killing everyone except Shrike who is dead anyway and he knows will survive.
    • Tom and Hester are shot at by mobile cities using the same Harpoon Guns they use for spearing other cities.
  • Not So Different:
    • Valentine says that Hester's determination to kill him regardless is no different from his own determination to achieve his own goals. He implies this is a case of Like Parent, Like Child. The two are even introduced similarly, staring through a telescope at the other's traction city as London starts pursuing Salzhaken. Hester seems to realise this at the height of their climactic duel - seeing how unhinged and uncaring of life his pursuit of power has made him, she chooses to live and be with Tom, leaving Valentine to die when Tom shoots down his airship.
    • Valentine derides Magnus Crome as being a dinosaur stuck in the past. Crome indicates the MEDUSA and asks, "What are you then?" Valentine replies, "The meteor", and kills him.
  • Offing the Offspring: Valentine attempts to murder Hester several times and keeps trying even after he makes it all but obvious that he's her father. He also attempts to escape London whilst its on a collision course with the Shield Wall, seemingly having little concern about leaving his other daughter, Katherine, to die on London should it hit the wall.
  • Oh, Crap!: Hester's pretty unfazed by the horrors of the world, but she has two major cases of this when Shrike shows up - first when she sees him in Rusttown and later on Airhaven when she realises the power going out is a diversion so he can get to her.
  • Only Electric Sheep Are Cheap: Tom's job in the Gut is to salvage Old Tech before it's crunched up for resources. He's aghast when seeing an electric toaster is about to be thrown away, and he and Valentine enthuse over its archaeological rarity and value.
  • Only Sane Man: When MEDUSA is revealed, Historian Pomeroy is the only one to react with horror while the rest of the citizens celebrate raucously.
  • Out of the Frying Pan: The Scuttlebug rescues Tom and Hester and gives them a room for the night. The next day they find the door is locked and they're not being taken to the nearest trading city...
  • Override Command: The crash drive was built to shut down MEDUSA if it was activated accidentally or maliciously.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The original novel had a brief mention of plastic idols of "Mickey and Pluto the animal-headed gods of lost America" in the London History Museum. The movie being made by Universal replaced them with plastic statues of The Minions - identified in-universe as ancient deities, due to the fact that Disney own the former characters.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: It's not villainy from London's standpoint, but the treatment of the inhabitants of Salzhaken shows shades of this. Despite cutting apart their home, London's loudspeakers promise they'll be given employment and food, while Valentine puts up one of the Gut workers on a charge after he assaults the former town's leader. Given the nature of London, it's likely less genuine concern than ensuring a revolt doesn't fester in the minds of conquered peoples.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Tom to Valentine.
    "You're history."
  • Price on Their Head: Hester is about to be auctioned off to a sausage maker when the notorious Anti-Tractionist Anna Fang appears and bids 50 on her. While this is ten times his offered bid, the auctioneer points out that there's a reward of 50,000 on Fang's head, so unless she's willing to cough up that much... Fang quickly demonstrates that he should have taken the 50.
  • Ramming Always Works: Subverted. After MEDUSA is shut down, Valentine sets London on a collision course with the damaged wall, his goons making sure it cannot be stopped by killing the controlling personnel and damaging the controls beyond repair. However, Tom manages to take out London's engine, causing it to grind to a halt just as the crashed aircraft with Valentine trapped in it is crushed by the city.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Shan Guo's governor, who forgoes revenge on the now-citiless Londoners at the end to extend the hand of friendship, despite the horrific damage done by Valentine's attack.
  • Sanity Slippage: Valentine is definitely losing it after MEDUSA is destroyed, complete with close-ups showing how hazy his world has become.
  • Salvage Pirates: The entire concept behind the philosophy of Municipal Darwinism - the larger and more powerful traction cities, such as London, prey upon other cities and mobile towns, capturing them and taking them apart for any resources, meaning that the entirety of Western civilisation in the film is this in some way. As Valentine states, the whole concept is unsustainable in the long run, due to the ever-shrinking numbers of mobile settlements meaning larger cities like London will eventually run out of prey settlements to power them. He has a solution, it's just a rather extreme one...
  • Scavenger World: The Hunting Ground where mobile cities prey on each other for resources.
  • Setting Update: Whilst the books were implied to take place roughly 10,000 years or more from the present day, comments from the film's production designer place the movie at approximately 1700 years from now.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man:
    • Thaddeus is only seen without his exceptional suits once in the whole movie, where he has to get a shirtless scene to treat his stab wound.
    • The Auctioneer also has an incredibly designed suit covered with a variety of buttons setting him apart from the other south scavengers.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: Tom is assumed to be Hester's boyfriend by the crew of Scuttlebutt, which he naturally denies given the two's less-than-rosy relationship at that point.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Museum has two statues of "American deities"... which are Minions.
    • Hester and Tom share an "Inkie", which Hester says is a food of the Ancients and is indestructible, a reference to the joke that Twinkies will survive the apocalypse because they don't go bad as easily as other food. Tom reads the expiration date as "Best by 2116.", assuming the end of the world was around 2016.
  • Spanner in the Works: Tom to Hester. If not for him, she might have killed Valentine in the film's opening.
  • Spared by the Adaptation:
    • As a result of both characters getting Demoted to Extra and thus having the scenes from the novel where they are stabbed through the chest by Thaddeus Valentine and crushed by a falling airship respectively cut, Katherine and Bevis end the movie still alive.
    • In contrast to the book, MEDUSA doesn’t destroy most of London when it malfunctions, meaning all of London’s residents are left alive by the film's end.
  • The Starscream: Magnus Crome is horrified that Valentine has resurrected the same superweapon that destroyed the old world. When he orders it shut down, the Engineers refuse to obey and Valentine shoots him dead.
  • Tagline: "Some scars never heal".
  • Tailor-Made Prison: Shrike is kept on a prison in the middle of the ocean, in a windowless metal box suspended over the sea apart from all the other inmates.
  • Taking the Bullet: Even though he's shown to be shocked at Valentine's actions, the commander of the Beefeaters gives his life as a human shield when Fang tries to kill Valentine.
  • There Is Only One Bed: After being rescued by the Scuttlebug, Tom and Hester are put up for the night in an extremely sparse compartment with a single bunk with no mattress and a hard metal floor. Tom turns away from the door (where he's just been pointing out to his host that Hester is not his girlfriend) saying she can have the bed, only to find Hester has already claimed it. There's a reason for the lack of amenities; turns out they've been 'rescued' by slavers and they're actually in a cell.
  • Turn the Other Cheek: The inhabitants of London evacuate their ruined city to find themselves confronted by the armed inhabitants of Shan Guo, who have suffered massive casualties from the attack. Fortunately their governor orders his men to lower their weapons, because they believe that they should only kill when necessary.
  • The Unfettered: Anna explains that as long as she is free, she fears nothing. Since she has asked her teammates to scatter her ashes in the wind when she dies, she is even free from death and does not fear it.
  • Verbal Backspace: Valentine initially claims he has no idea who Hester was after her initial attack on him - but after a rocky conversation with the mayor, he arrogantly claims that he's come too far for Magnus Crome or Hester Shaw to stop him now. When Katherine enquires about the latter in confusion, he claims she's no-one, heightening her suspicions about Tom's death not being what it seems.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Valentine seems to be quite popular with the lower classes, with Crome even characterising him as a "man of the people" When he announces London will be warring on Shan Guo, the populace reacts with delighted cheering.
  • Visionary Villain: Valentine's absolutely right when he states Municipal Darwinism is unsustainable in the long term (something gone into in more detail in the books). He plans to use MEDUSA to blast London's way into Shan Guo to take their more more plentiful resources instead of scavenging other cities.
  • Weaponized Landmark: St Paul's Cathedral sits on top of the mobile city, and is used by Valentine for his 'energy project'. A superweapon that deploys from the dome.
  • You're Not My Father: While she doesn't get to tell him in person, after realizing the true nature of Thaddeus, Katherine says to Bevis that she no longer considers him to be her father anymore.
  • You Know Too Much: Even though Tom doesn't comprehend what Hester said to him, it's enough for Valentine to kill him rather than risk his secret getting out. Justified as he is a Villain with Good Publicity and is involved in something even the city's rulers don't know about.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Tom starts the movie regarding Anna Fang and her Anti-Traction League as Evil Luddites out to destroy his city. He ends up fighting alongside them.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: