Tween girls, Rejoice! Yet another romantic action/fantasy book series that you so adore has made its way to the big screen. Following this year’s “Beautiful Creatures”, “The Host” (and Part 2 of the “Percy Jackson” series) comes “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones”, the film version of book 1 of what will eventually be a six novel franchise. We can only hope there won’t be that many movies.
Lily Collins, who starred in last year’s disappointing, “Mirror Mirror”, plays Clary, a seemingly normal teen who lives in Brooklyn with her mother and her long-time boyfriend. But things start changing for Clary, as she discovers that she can see things and people that others cannot. At a club she witnesses a violent attack and those involved track her down and break the news: she’s NOT a normal human. The next day she wakes-up to find that she’s been drawing this certain symbol all over her room. I was thinking “this must be a nightmare and she’ll wake up.” But it wasn’t. I started thinking the same thing about the experience of watching this film. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the case, either.
Meantime, Clary’s mother is kidnapped and we learn, through countless explanation scenes, that Clary’s new “friends” are shadow hunters – part-human, part angel – and whose job it is to track down and kill demons. And guess what? – Clary’s one of them. At first, Clary’s obligatory dorky male best friend, Simon, can’t see the hunky, blond-haired, Jace and the other shadow hunters. But a short time later, miraculously, he can. And soon they’re all on a quest to find the Golden Cup, which everybody wants but I quickly lost interest as to why.
Even though, from the trailer, “City of Bones” looks more sophisticated than the “Twilight” films (which it’s obviously trying to copy) this film doesn’t even reach the “Twilight” level as far as entertainment value. Besides being a blatant knock-off of that series (there’s a love triangle, vampires, werewolves, other wild creatures and a deathly-boring script), it’s also way too long.
And not only does “City of Bones” steal much of its content from “Twilight”, but the little fun I had while watching it was from picking-out the other movies that it “borrows” from, including “Star Wars”, “The Chronicles of Narnia”, “The Shining”, “The Exorcist”, “The Birds”, “Ghostbusters” (no wonder Sigourney Weaver is set to star in “City of Ashes”, the already-announced sequel), and even “Mary Poppins”. And I’m sure I missed others. In short, there isn’t one original element or idea in the entire script.
There are a few surprises in “City of Bones”. First of all, actress Lena Headey, who plays Clary’s mother, can wield a mean frying pan. Also, the guy who played Moriarty in “Sherlock Holmes 2” shows-up halfway through. And finally, we learn that, while vampires, werewolves and hideously disgusting dog monsters are real, zombies don’t exist. How can that be true after the great summer we’ve had with zombies at the movies?
“The Mortal Instruments” is rated PG-13 for the typical fantasy action/violence. I’ve talked to fans of the book and, apparently, the filmmakers changed a few things (which didn’t make them happy). Maybe sticking to the novel should be the way to go for the sequel. I’ll take anything instead of a repeat of this mess.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” gets a D-.
There is one moment I did enjoy late in the film: During a fight with Jace, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers (who plays the main villain), says, “Someone told me that you like to play music.” He then slams Jace’s head down on the piano a few times. I guess that would make him a “half-mortal instrument”.