Hollywood is still in search of its next phenomenon. Despite the success of “The Hunger Games,” with the new installment due out in November, the movie mill is churning out young adult book adaptations left and right, with seeming little success since “Harry Potter” and “Twilight” ended. Sadly, the trend seems to have continued with the adaptation of “The Mortal Instruments: The City of Bones,” released on August 22.
The film follows Clary Fray, a seemingly normal girl until she sees a group of teenagers kill another boy. Or what she thought was a boy. When her mother is kidnapped, Clary soon discovers that she is a Shadowhunter, a half-human, half-angel tasked with hunting demons. She must find the Mortal Cup, one of the Mortal Instruments, and keep it from Valentine, who intends to use it to turn the Clave, the ruling body of Shadowhunters, upside down.
At least that’s the premise of the book. The movie skips over a lot of explanation and delves right into the action, and the love triangle, without much thought as to the audience who may not have read the book. We are introduced to Clary, Simon and Jace, but we are never introduced to Alec and Isabelle Lightwood, who simply kind of show up, sans a real introduction.
The problem with this movie did not lie in the acting, or the effects, but in the editing and script. The story seemed pieced together, back to front, and vice versa, and never established a solid storyline. Instead of letting Clary stand on her own, she is reduced to so much a damsel in distress to continue to fit the mold of teenager seeking boyfriend that seems to be the focal point of movies that can be so much more. The film ends in such a way that it seems to be tied up, as if the studio knew that the product they delivered would not bring in revenue, simply outrage.
What this movie really had going for it was the effects. The demons were grotesque in their imagining and the more magical elements like portals and runes portrayed to their fullest to make the most of the fantasy potential of the series. It is one of the things that helps make this two hour plus film actually progress at a reasonable pace.
“City of Bones” stars Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell-Bower, Lena Headley and Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Meyers easily steals the show from his younger co-stars as Valentine, a man on a mission to cleanse the Shadowhunter ranks.
I’m giving this movie a C. Not for the sheer fact that as a fan of the books, I was sincerely disappointed, but as well as a thoroughly confused audience member. Not much about the story is explained, there is no set-up for any of the events of the movie, and once again the heroine has been reduced to a love struck obstacle, as opposed to the potential for her to truly shine amongst the characters. The film is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of fantasy violence and action, and some suggestive content.