The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones – Film Review
It’s been a bit of a ghost town around here lately, hey?
Not that I didn’t enjoy the break from the TV relentlessness.
And sadly, TMI:COB is no stellar supplement.
Not that anyone should really expect a Twilight knock-off to be any good.
TL;DR A lot of the pieces are nice, but nobody involved in this movie knows how to play with them properly. Instead, it’s a predictably safe, dull snooze. Lily Collins does what she can, but is swallowed by an endless swirl of CGI garbage and a strikingly forced romance. 2 out of 5 stars.
She also might be wanting to bang her brother. But even that’s not as fun as it sounds.
The story is the usual teen paranormal drama trudge: main character finds out they’re special or something, nefarious forces attack, main character must muster their inner strength blah blah to fend off evil and also win romance. Lily Collins is Clary (ugh), said main character, and she’s a Shadowhunter, like her mum. Shadowhunters fight off evil monsters, which include vampires, werewolves, demons, and witches. She teams up with seasoned Shadowhunters to get her mum back after she’s kidnapped by a super evil Shadowhunter, who is also her dad. The romance subplot between Clary and the blonde, British Shadowhunter kicks off way too arbitrarily and is soured by the possibility that they may be siblings. Other subplots include an annoying beta couple thing going on with another pair of Shadowhunters; and Clary’s dorky best friend being in love with her (duh).
He is refreshingly un-angsty about it, though. Most of the time.
I gotta say, this movie does a lot of stuff badly. But the worst has to be the violent, vaginal tearingly bad shoving in of the romance subplot between Clary and Skeletor (the blonde Shadowhunter. I don’t remember what his name is, but he’s grossly thin, so that’s what I’m calling him). I knew it was coming because yo, this is a teen paranormal romance movie. But then it kinda didn’t. And I liked that.
But then TMI:COB was like “Nuh, here it is, cunt,” and whacked it in there at about the hour mark (oh, the movie’s way too long, too. Natch). Clary and Skeletor have a gloriously melodramatic kiss and then it’s like they’re fucking Romeo and Juliet. At this time, Nerdy Best Friend decides to be a jealous turd and ramps things up.
And then, again, the movie kind of gets sick of the romance angle and drops it again. The complication of Clary and Skeletor maybe being siblings is responsible for that. But if you’re gonna go for it, just go for it. The soap opera was the only thing that kept Twilight alive. Nobody was going to those movies for the action scenes.
Why I hate this movie:
The action scenes aren’t much better. They are invariably just a flurry of CGI bullshit. No tension. No payoff. Just some slick camera work and flashiness. The worst one would probably be the demon morphing dog fight thingy in Clary’s apartment. It looks like shit and is totally incompetent.
Another action scene that doesn’t make any sense comes near the end when Clary uses one of her super special powers to freeze frame a bunch of demons. Instead of taking this opportunity to roll some heads, Clary and the gang just step around them and wait for them to unfreeze before getting massacred. Good work, guys.
There’s a black woman who is Clary’s neighbour. Guess what kind of supernatural being she is? A witch, if you hadn’t gotten there yet. What is this? TVD?
If the Shadowhunter base is situated in an American major city, why are all of them British?
Kevin Zegers’ character doesn’t get an ending scene. We last see him about to get treatment for some poison, and then don’t see him again. I guess he’s okay?
An early scene has Clary going to a fucking poetry slam. Of her own will. I don’t put up with that shit from Aria, and I’m not putting up with it from you.
Why are all hot girls completely unaware of their nerdy best friends?
Clary is a stupid name.
I don’t know what Skeletor’s actual name was, but I’m sure it was just as snowflakey.
Skeletor makes a point of telling Clary that she can trust no-one. Nek minnit, he is telling her to trust him. Oh, honey.
Oh, and the movie seriously should have worked more with the incest thing. I don’t know how the books go, but I’m willing to go 100% that they will turn out not to be related, so why not have some fun with it now?
But it’s not all bad:
The casting is surprisingly good. I’ve been a fan of Lily Collins ever since I saw her eyebrows float into frame in Abduction. She’s gorgeous and isn’t a terrible actress. And she’s flying the flag for we bushy-browed.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers is slumming it as Valentine, the big bad Shadowhunter, and Clary (and possibly Skeletor’s) dad. Go back and make sure Dracula doesn’t get cancelled, darling.
Dr Ashford from the incomparable Resident Evil: Apocalypse is the shifty Shadowhunter head honcho.
Kevin Zegers turns in an amazingly convincing British accent as one half of the beta couple. He’s aging, but still doable. He looks better here than he did in Gossip Girl, at least.
CCH Pounder squeaks in to play the black witch chick. Credible.
The only cast member who isn’t impressive is Skeletor. Apparently Alex Pettyfer wasn’t available, so they just pumped “gangly, rude, blonde, Brit” into a search engine and here we are. He’s still better than Edward Cullen in every way, though.
Except for the isolated explosions of romance insanity, the melodrama is kept to a tolerable minimum. It’s unfortunately supplemented with lacklustre action and exposition, but I was grateful.
Clary’s “plucking things from drawings” ability is pretty fuckin’ cool. The things I’d turn real with that. Porn, mainly.
Oh, and Jonathan Rhys Meyers struts around without a shirt most of the time. It’s nice.
The most important question that needs to be asked of a teen paranormal romance action/drama in a post-Twilight world is “Do I hate her more than Bella?” Like The Host, the answer here is “no.” But everything else sucks, so. 2 out of 5 stars.