The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.
Now, I know zero about this. There’s definite comparisons I could make, based on the trailers, but I tried to go in with zero expectations. I was surprised by this year’s earlier outing of the same genre Beautiful Creatures (review here) so I was hoping for another surprise.
Lily Collins stars as Clary, a young girl who doesn’t fit in. Her life turns upside down when she realizes that she’s actually a “shadowhunter” and is capable of incredible things. Her mother (Lena Heady, of Game of Thrones fame) is kidnapped and she befriends another shadowhunter Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower). Her current best friend tries to keep up (Robert Sheehan). Other notables include Jonathan Rhys Meyers as the villainous Valentine and Aidan Turner (BBC’s Being Human and The Hobbit) as the protective werewolf friend.
So what works?
I was pleasantly surprised by the mythology and the world created here. There’s some interesting takes on old classics, as the movie features demons, vampires, werewolves, and everything in between. The fight scenes were usually pretty impressive, making me sit on the edge of my seat through most of them.
The leads were all fairly capable, though Lily as Clary walked close to the line of melodrama. The standout for me was Simon (Robert Sheehan) who played the friendzoned muggle really well, giving a strong emotional core to the film.
It was an entertaining movie throughout but there were some flaws.
What doesn’t work?
This movie would have potentially been amazing, but a few problems were created in likely the writing stage of the books. They’re structural problems that the author likely made to latch onto the passing fads, but actually hurt the material.
This movie would have been stronger without the love triangle, especially in retrospect. It was unnecessary and felt like it was shoehorned in to create drama. Without this drama, it might have made for a more original and unique story.
I also feel like the author wanted to showcase how diverse this movie was by including vampires and werewolves and demons and all sorts of things. But I feel like it does the movie a disservice. It’s scattered and takes away the punch of any single villain. The vampires were cool, don’t get me wrong, but they were ultimately unnecessary. The werewolves, even though one of our heroes was one, were ultimately not important too. It felt like pandering to fans. “You like vampires? HAVE SOME VAMPIRES!”
I also was underwhelmed by Jonathan Rhys Meyers as the villain Valentine. He was talked up for the entire film and when he finally showed up… not that scary. They tried to overplay his appearance, giving him weird dreadlocks and eyeshadow, making him look like Captain Jack Sparrow. I’d rather have a normal looking guy who does despicable things. Let his actions show us how evil he is, stop beating us over the head with it. I’m not sure who’s to blame for this.
Now, I enjoyed this movie on a superficial level. I laughed, I sat on the edge of my seat… But it lacked anything that might make it memorable. At the end of the movie, there’s some closure on a few of my problems, so potential sequels might be better by default. But this one is an amped up Harry Potter clone that just fails to get any traction. There are a few redeeming qualities but overall underwhelming.