THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: THE CITY OF BONES
Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, Lena Headey, Robert Sheehan
IT’S a little bit Twilight. It’s a little bit Harry Potter. Heck, it’s even a little bit Percy Jackson. It’s also a whole lotta hooey. Nevertheless, it would be unwise to write off the fi rst Mortal Instruments movie as a totally derivative dud.
Based on a popular series of novels by Cassandra Clare, City of Bones displays just enough potential, largely by virtue of a welcome, self- mocking sense of humour, to suggest it could be a franchise worth sticking with in the long run.
This is one of those movies where a faint gist of what is going on is all you’re gonna get – and is all that fervent Mortal Instruments’ devotees probably need.
Clary ( Lily Collins) is a pretty girl in her late teens. A Bella Swan with better social skills, Clary may or may not be a full- blooded Shadowhunter. This issue may or may not be clarifi ed by the end of the movie.
A Shadowhunter is a kind of angel that dresses like an extra from a Resident Evil sequel and struts about exterminating demonic beings of all shapes and sizes.
When Clary learns her recently vanished mother ( Lena Headey) is a Shadowhunter, her search draws her deep inside a dangerous alternate universe co- existing with ordinary human life in New York City.
Clary’s guide and mentor as she totters through this spooky Goth- tropolis is the strapping young Shadowhunter Jace ( Jamie Campbell Bower).
This snake- hipped smoulder machine may or may not become her boyfriend by the end of the movie. Winning the approval of Jace’s WHAT was once rad is now just plain sad. The original Kick- Ass was a maverick excitement machine, sending up and taking down the entire comic- book superhero genre with genuine, game- changing panache. This terrible sequel is everything its subversive predecessor so cleverly avoided becoming: a witlessly violent, mean and misogynistic affair. The all- new adventures of amateur crimefi ghters Kick- Ass ( Aaron Johnson) and Hit- Girl ( Chloe Moretz) are shoddily derivative at best. At their worst, proceedings amount to a new low for mainstream cinema this year. One truly scummy scene where attempted rape is played for laughs sums up the many depressingly bad impulses being indulged here. Avoid. disapproving entourage ( not unlike Twilight’s Cullen clan, but more chatty and less stare- y) can only help Clary in this regard.
The ever- insistent presence of Simon ( Robert Sheehan), Clary’s bespectacled bestfriend- with- a- crush, sets up a lightweight love triangle that fans of this stuff traditionally expect.
The only option for the unconvinced is to focus on the nuttier stuff sprinkled across this tale. It is clever enough to warrant a knowing chuckle at the very least.
Did you know demons have an abiding fear of certain musical notes? Or that the great composer Bach was a Shadowhunter? Neither did I.
Oh, and you know how Twilight reckons all werewolves are hunky young dudes in denim shorts living deep in the woods? City of Bones is here to tell you that’s a lie.
The Mortal Instruments’ werewolves are burly, bearded bike- ridin’ guys well into their forties. So there. IF only Maisie didn’t know anything in What Maisie Knew. Sometimes ignorance can indeed be bliss. Maisie ( a stunning performance by Onata Aprile) is seven. She lives in New York City. Her mother, Susanna ( Julianne Moore) is a washed- up rock star and her dad Beale ( Steve Coogan) is just a wash- out. All Maisie ever hears is her parents fi ghting. They are no longer together, but apart they are as damaging to the welfare of their daughter as they have ever been. This brilliantly acted study in emotional neglect as child abuse can be quite wrenching to watch. Though Maisie is living in relatively affl uent surrounds, the worry for her wellbeing steadily rises throughout the picture.