DIR: Harald Zwart • WRI: Jessica Postigo • PRO: Don Carmody, Robert Kulzer • DOP: Geir Hartly Andreassen • ED: Joel Negron • DES: François Séguin • CAST: Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, Robert Sheehan, Jemima West
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is the latest in the seemingly unending array of young adult films adapted from successful young adult books in recent years. Ever since Harry Potter was launched onto our screens in 2001, and Warner Brothers had amazing success with the adaptation of the seven books, film producers have tried to emulate its unique success. However, that particular magic (pun intended) of the Harry Potter franchise is hard to bottle and these competing films have had varying degrees of success.
I went into The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones blind with no knowledge of the books, and at first I was a bit lost as the film jumps straight into the action and the plot moves along quite fast. However, you soon catch up and acquire enough detail of this world to understand the coming-of-age story of Clary Fray (Lily Collins). Clary is a seemingly ordinary girl living in New York whose world changes overnight when she begins to realise she isn’t as ordinary as she thought. She discovers an underworld of vampires, demons, werewolves and, the heroes of the piece, the Shadowhunters.
This type of fantasy world have been a bit overdone on TV and film in recent years and The Mortal Instruments is nothing new really. It adheres to certain stereotypes; the heroes wear copious amounts of black leather clothes (hardly the most comfortable for slaying demons), ordinary humans are seen as stupider and less brave than the Shadowhunters and the baddie (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is comically weak.
However, the actors do their best with the weak dialogue and it is an enjoyable enough film. Robert Sheehan is admirable as Clary’s ordinary best friend and he has decent chemistry with the rest of the cast. Lily Collins holds her own as the lead, but is not a patch on Jennifer Lawrence, in the superior The Hunger Games. It doesn’t help her that the dialogue between herself and her love interest Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower) is laughably bad.
Overall, the plot moves along nicely and it is a decent length, so you can enjoy this film without much knowledge of the books. This is presumably the first instalment of this six-novel franchise so there is plenty of room for development of the characters and it merely sets them up for a longer story.
Ailbhe O’ Reilly
Rated 12A (see IFCO website for details)
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bonesis released on 23rd August 2013