”Oh great another tween horror adapted from a popular book with a billion parts all waiting to be Hollywood-ised to sell popcorn and false dreams to the generation with the most expendable income” I hear you cry.
But wait a minute guys, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is most definitely above average when it comes to this budding cash cow of a genre and it has a lot more going for it than some of these movies do and when I say some you all know I mainly mean the terrible toothless mess that is Twilight.
So in case you’re not down with the kids (like me!) here’s what it’s all about. The Mortal Instruments is a series of six young adult fantasy novels written by Cassandra Clare five of which have been published and the first of which, City of Bones is now a major motion picture.
The story revolves around Clary (Lily Collins daughter of Phil for us oldies) who lives a normal life with her mother in New York until one night when she stumbles into a Goth nightclub and witnesses what she believes to be a brutal murder.
Confronted by the man who committed the alleged crime Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower from Twilight no less) he tells her that like him she is a Shadowhunter and has the ability to see the world as it truly is containing many magical creatures including demons such as the one he slayed earlier.
Just as she is coming to terms with this idea and the unraveling of her entire existence she receives a panicked call from her mother who is under attack in her home. With her mum missing and many questions about her past, present and future to discover Clary joins up with Jace and his team of Shadowhunters to help them on their quest to find the Mortal Cup an item that an evil member of their cabal named Valentine (Jonathan Rhys Meyers a tad over acting) is out to seize for himself.
In The Mortal Instruments Cassandra Clare has hit a winning combination of elements by blending the misfit romance of Twilight with the magic and mystery of Harry Potter plus the action and violence of Hunger Games and the movie too borrows stylistically and story wise from everything from Blade to Star Wars along with a bunch of other things familiar to readers and watchers of fantasy horror.
This is no bad thing however and just means that the world of The Mortal Instruments has a familiar feel while still throwing in a few original ideas of its own including the runs which they tattoo on themselves for protection, the use of all churches of all faiths as weapons caches and the amusing invention that Bach was a demon hunter due to the fact that his music is unbearable to monsters.
With a cast heavy on the English side the acting is not too bad and the characters too offer a mixed bag with the usual clichés on hand such as Collins spunky heroine, Campbell Bower’s dark tortured anti-hero and Robert Sheehan as the nerdy and needy Simon, who harbors his own deep passion for his female best friend.
This traditional love triangle is given an interesting extra dimension in the form of angst ridden homosexual Shadowhunter Alec played by Kevin Zegers and he along with other smaller characters such as CCH Pounder mysterious tarot reader, Godfrey Gao pant wearing wizard, the great Jared Harris and Being Human’s Aidan Turner as Luke give the movie an added zest.
What also works is the action horror element with some great fight sequences and excellent special effects especially on the John Carpenter-esque demons who burst out of there flesh disguises like The Thing on steroids.
Okay so it does contain some of the cheesiest moments of romance ever committed to celluloid and there are some unexplained elements that may grate the non-novel readers and pace wise the movie does drag in the last act but ultimately if you’re not a teenager this movie isn’t aimed at you so as far as the film’s concerned you can go home and watch Downton Abbey you old dinosaur.
Like the high pitched frequency only young ears can hear there is a whole teenage section of society and The Mortal Instruments obsessives who will be driven crazy by the cinematic conversion of City of Bones no matter what. For everyone else let’s just say it’s not as bad as it sounds.