The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
dir Harald Zwart
scr Jessica Postigo Paquette
prd Don Carmody, Robert Kulzer
with Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, Robert Sheehan, Jared Harris, Lena Headey, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Aidan Turner, Jemima West, Kevin Zegers, CCH Pounder, Godfrey Gao, Kevin Durand
release US/UK 21.Aug.13
13/US 2h10
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
All leathered-up: West, Sheehan, Collins, Zegers and Campbell Bower

harris headey neyers
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones Based on the first volume in Cassandra Clare's bestselling series, this film suffers by trying to cram everything from the book on-screen. It's a overcrowded and chaotic, never generating any emotional momentum or even a whiff of menace. So it's unlikely to earn new fans for the franchise.

When Clary (Collins) meets goth dreamboat Jace (Campbell Bower), she learns that she's a Shadowhunter, a half-angel whose job is to protect humanity from demons. When her mother (Headey) is kidnapped, Clary and Jace team up with her best pal Simon (Sheehan), who nurses a secret crush on her, to travel into the New York underworld, where werewolves and vampires wage war with demons and angels. At Shadowhunter headquarters, she meets siblings Isabelle and Alec (West and Zegers) and leader Hodge (Harris), all of whom warn her about the evil Valentine (Meyers).

The plot plays out as a series of smallish quests, as Clary visits the City of Bones under a cemetery, consults with a queeny warlock (Gao), breaks into a church for a cache of weapons, and so forth. None of this quite hangs together, as the filmmakers are more concerned with depicting every setting than with making a movie that makes sense to an uninitiated audience.

Despite lively direction and decent effects, the cinematic approach isn't particularly original. The moment Clary discovers the truth about herself, she suddenly starts wearing leather bondage-wear like everyone else. And her special powers seem to impress everyone even though they look rather unexceptional in the grand scheme of the elaborately wacky mythology. The cast is fine, although none of the characters is well enough defined for the actors to do anything very interesting.

Frankly, there's so much going on that nothing really resonates. This book series really should have been adapted into a TV series, although it might be too similar to True Blood for that to work. The plot of this episode is essentially a mash-up of The Empire Strikes Back and Pretty in Pink, with added vampires, demons and werewolves, plus a random Stargate-like portal. This probably works in the book, where every character is fleshed out, but on-screen it's rather exhausting.

cert 12 themes, violence 15.Aug.13

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