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The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones - Review

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

YET another Young Adult book series gets the big screen treatment in the hope of creating a new movie franchise to rival the success of Twilight or Harry Potter.

In this case it’s Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments, a six book collection that kicks off with City of Bones, the film version of which is directed by Harold Zwart (of The Karate Kid remake and The Pink Panther 2 fame).

But while all the required items are in place, from demons, vampires and werewolves to the obligatory love triangle, the mix is, at best, laughably bad yet mostly just plain tedious.

The story follows Brooklyn teenager Clary (Lily Collins) as she discovers she is descended from a long line of demon killers, or shadow hunters, just as her mum (Lena Headey) goes missing and her own life is in danger.

Enter fellow shadow hunter Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower), who intends to protect her and unlock the secrets in her brain, but who falls in love much to the frustration of Clary’s quiet, and similarly love-struck best friend Simon (Robert Sheehan).

All this is played out while demons pursue Clary in the hope of finding a magical cup that has also been hidden by her mum.

Zwart’s film has plenty going on, from special effects heavy showdowns to romantic complications (there’s even a gay character to further complicate the main love triangle), but it’s hard to care about any of it.

Part of this is due to the proliferation of such Young Adult adaptations (which range from Twilight on the big screen to The Vampire Diaries on the small) and the fact that City of Bones feels hugely (and sometimes lazily) derivative of them all.

But there’s also a lack of vitality in the characters, with Collins and Bower failing to emote much passion or charisma. Sheehan fares better and is often quite amusing, while the likes of Jared Harris and CCH Powder bring extra gravitas to their brief screen-time.

But Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Kevin Durand are similarly bland villains (Durand, especially, seems to be repeating a performance to the one he gave in the similarly forgettable I Am Number Four), while the plot makes a series of increasingly stupid turns, including a surprise revelation ripped straight from the Star Wars copybook.

Fans of the books may well have a good time and be looking forward to a long film run, but City of Bones will struggle to reach much beyond that core group. It’s a tiresome and instantly forgettable film.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 130mins
UK Release Date: August 21, 2013