The film tries to be clever by going meta: Once again, it’s rooted in Mr. Glass’ conviction that superheroes are real, and it repeatedly name-checks comic-book tropes that are reflected, languidly, in the movie’s own plot. But in the end, all it really reveals is a onetime visionary’s glass now half — no, let’s go with mostly — empty.
Tatiana Maslany (“Orphan Black”) is nearly unrecognizable as Petra, Silas’ longtime girlfriend caught in Bell’s roundup, and Bradley Whitford shows up in the latest of his silver-haired villain roles as a sketchy lawyer.
Most of Mortal Engines is a wearying blast of CGI and genre-cribbing (most egregiously, director Christian Rivers hired composer Junkie XL to seemingly lift, wholesale, his soundtrack from “Mad Max: Fury Road”).
Jenkins is a master of cinematic portraiture, but he’s so captivated by the magic of a moment — even a single image, like cigarette smoke swirling around one of Fonny’s carved-wood sculptures — that he sometimes forgets he’s got an audience expecting a plot.
This “Poppins” sequel has an entirely new score, with exactly none of the cherished songs from the great Julie Andrews movie. Once you accept that, you can move on — and enjoy the countless other joys this follow-up has to offer. It will be a jolly-er holiday with Mary Poppins Returns.
What’s strangest about this almost-comedy, though, isn’t its mish-mash of unlikely genres, but the earnest approach to them. “Apocalypse” begins as a “High School Musical” look-alike with poppy group numbers in cafeterias and hallways. One song, “Hollywood Ending,” is a dead ringer for “Stick to the Status Quo.”