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Lily Collins, Jamie Camp­bell Bower, Lena Headey, Robert Shee­han

Harold Zwart



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.

ON THE HUNT: Jamie Camp­bell Bower and Lily Collins in The Mor­tal In­stru­ments: The City of Bones.

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