'Mortal Instruments' saga opens in a cemetery — not a good sign
There is most certainly an audience for the film “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones,” fans of the six (planned) novels about demons, supernatural demon fighters, vampires, werewolves, witches and warlocks.
They'll thrill to all the endless litany of runes, talismans, history and “rules” of this world of shadow-hunters descended from an angel that showed up to help crusading knights a thousand years ago. They'll eagerly await the brief, throw-away visit to the “City of Bones” (a cemetery) of the title.
And if you love exposition and shapely if bland young actors in leather, skinny jeans, knee boots, Goth cocktail dresses and heavy eye makeup, this may be the movie for you.
Lily Collins is Clary, the birthday girl whose mother (Lena Headey of “300”) never told her about her heritage, why she keeps seeing signs and people with great hair stalking and stabbing demons in nightclubs and what not. Clary, dragging her unsuspecting admirer Simon (Robert Sheehan) along, finds out.
She was born into this world. Simon? He's just a “mundane,” a clueless human.
They learn all this from the mop-topped warrior-explainer Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower), who drives a Triumph motorcycle, flirts with Clary and has the tedious job of explicating every single thing to them and to the audience.
The shadow-hunters fight “a war that can never be won, but must always be fought” the leader of their “Institute” (Jared Harris) teaches. We're invited to draw our own parallels to modern battles against terrorism.
Sometimes, vampires interfere. Sometimes, werewolves help. Johann Sebastian Bach's contrapuntal compositions play a part. Homoerotic come-ons play into the love triangles set up here.
A magical cup, a “mortal instrument,” is sought by good guys and bad (Jonathan Rhys Meyers).
It's a stilted, silly mishmash of earlier fantasy franchises, with the occasional decent joke and frequent brawls involving swordplay and backflips.
Director Harald Zwart has “Agent Cody Banks” and the recent “Karate Kid” among his credits. Which tells you the best they're hoping for here is a “Percy Jackson” level of success.
“City of Ashes,” a second adaptation, is due out next year, probably dumped in late August, just like this one.
Roger Moore reviews movies for McClatchy-Tribune News Service.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Going inside Big Bird, a film takes wing with Caroll Spinney
- Review: Amazing Randi pulls back the curtain in ‘An Honest Liar’
- Review: New doc puts own ‘Lambert & Stamp’ on Who history
- Review: ‘Far From the Madding Crowd’ a period-piece love quadrangle
- Review: ‘I Am Big Bird’ a gentle peek at the guy behind the yellow feathers
- Review: Tomorrow isn’t what it used to be in ‘Tomorrowland’