Movie reviews: They Shall Not Grow Old, Mortal Engines
THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD (PG13)
Created to commemorate the centenary of the end of World War I, this documentary from Peter Jackson - opening exclusively at The Projector - packs a hefty punch.
Using digitally restored and colourised footage from 100 years ago and the audio from interviews conducted over 50 years ago, They Shall Not Grow Old brings the experience of war to a modern audience.
What surprises is that this is not all "war is hell". Many of these old soldiers, interviewed in their late middle-age, speak of the experience fondly, relishing the camaraderie.
However, the footage does not shy away from what these men - and boys - went through.
Trench foot, corpses half-buried and rotting in mud just feet away from living and well-fed rats - all put the "fun" into stark contrast.
It is hard to not feel anger at the recruitment process, at boys too young for legal recruitment being told to go outside and "have a birthday" or two.
Many were sold on war being a wonderful adventure.
Equally painful is the reception many soldiers received back home. The rejection they experienced is shameful - returning to unemployment and a public who didn't care about what they had experienced.
This is a haunting experience, seeing these men staring back at you from history, some playing up for the camera - a unique experience in 1914 - some frozen with fear.
It is not typical cinema, but one that should be seen by all. - JONATHAN ROBERTS
MORTAL ENGINES (PG)
This post-apocalyptic adventure produced and co-written by Peter Jackson could have been brilliant, and for the first 10 minutes, it leans into the silliness needed.
In the future, the city of London has been turned into a giant tank that roams the wastelands (there is a Brexit analogy in there somewhere), a mobile city that eats smaller towns.
At first, Mortal Engines is a mix of Terry Gilliam meets Mad Max: Fury Road. But it starts to take itself too seriously - not helped by Hugo Weaving struggling to act through his accent and Robert Sheehan channelling Eddie Redmayne.
Though props go to Hera Hilmar as Hester - a lead you want to root for, if only the events around her made sense.
Add a bizarre side story about a screaming lovelorn Terminator and a depressing amount of cliche and it devolves into a mess of riffs taken from other films, so many you could play Fantasy Genre bingo.
The big issue is that while the visuals are stunning, they aren't enough to stop you from checking your watch. - JONATHAN ROBERTS