Jamie Campbell Bower, Jemima West, Lily Collins, Kevin Zegers, Robert Sheehan, Ben Barnes, CCH Pounder, Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Jessica Postigo (Screenplay), I. Marlene King (Writer), Cassandra Clare (Novel)
"The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones"
I was midway through this latest Hollywood attempt at grabbing those highly prized teen and 'tween box-office dollars when the thought popped into my head that somewhere a porn producer was already putting together a film called The Mortal Instruments: City of Boners.
It was actually the only time I laughed or was even remotely entertained while watching The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, a film based upon the first in a series of novels by Catherine Clare that is such a painfully obvious rip-off of everything else we've already seen in the youth sci-fi market that you'll likely spend most of your time not invested in the story but mentally telling yourself what other film it's ripping off.
If, like me, you cringed while watching the film's overwrought and melodramatic trailer then you already have a terrific idea of what to expect from The Mortal Instruments, an overly long and overly dramatic 130-minute journey through the age-old battle between good and evil that almost, and I stress ALMOST, makes one long for the good ole' days of Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner.
I said ALMOST.
Truthfully, it more makes me long for mature children and youth able to discern the truth that this is nothing more than cinematic drivel that almost instantly drops the IQ a few points. It really doesn't help matters that the film features Jamie Campbell Bower, of Twilight fame, whose acting style has transitioned from brooding to really, really brooding.
The story evolves around Clary (Lily Collins), a seemingly normal teenager who rather quickly realizes she's really not that normal when she starts seeing things that no one else can see. Her mother (Lena Headey) gets attacked and ends up missing so Clary and her best friend Simon (Robert Sheehan) join forces with a brooding Shadowhunter named Jace (Bower) to hunt her down. With the forces of evil on her trail because they believe she knows the location of the Mortal Cup (which again makes me think of porno), it all becomes a race against time.
Or something like that.
The adults in the film fare worse in the film, most especially Jonathan Rhys Meyers as the power hungry Valentine and Jared Harris as Hodge Starkweather, a tutor of sorts for Jace. CCH Pounder manages to not deface her entire career as Madame Dorothea, though this turn will certainly not have Hollywood knocking on her door. Kevin Zegers, who showed so much promise in TransAmerica, continues to struggle to find another quality project.
Screenwriter Jessica Postigo serves up a script that feels like a working draft with an abundance of unnecessary exposition and dialogue so derivative that only teenagers who actually thought Taylor Lautner could act will likely find it convincing. Production values are generally fine for the $60 million Screen Gems release with Geir Hartly Andreassen's lensing capturing the expected style and Atli Orvarsson's original music following suit.
It'll be interesting to see if America's in the mood for another young adult sci-fi series, though it may not matter since a sequel is already shooting in Toronto.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic