The Mortal Instruments: City of BonesCultureCinemaMovie reviews
Amid the recent landslide of Young Adult book-to-screen adaptations comes a new contender for the Harry Potter franchise throne – The Mortal Instruments. Based on the bestselling book series by Cassandra Clare, the first film City of Bones is released this week. The movie stars Lily Collins (Mirror Mirror) as New York teenager Clary Fray. When her mother Jocelyn (Lena Headey, Game of Thrones) is abducted, Clary learns long-hidden secrets about their true heritage – that of the half-angel Shadowhunters entrusted with protecting the human world from demons. With the help of young Shadowhunter Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower, The Twilight Saga), Clary sets out to rescue her mother and uncover her past.
Directed by Harald Zwart (The Karate Kid, One Night at McCools), the film is dark, glamorous and funny in a way that is utterly befitting of an urban fantasy. The use of CGI is remarkably sophisticated, and – in the context of a fantasy movie with monsters and demons – almost subtle. The cast interact well enough with the visual effects that the authenticity does not break between ordinary and CGI scenes.
Artifice aside, the young cast strive to emulate Zwart’s vision of a character-driven film. Every inch the heroine, Collins shines as the wide-eyed yet fierce Clary, and aptly portrays the character as an “everygirl” who finds herself thrown headfirst into a world of angels and demons. Meanwhile, Robert Sheehan (Misfits) offers steady laughs as Clary’s grounded human friend, the ever-bemused Simon. The final point to the film’s love triangle is Jace. The charming Bower becomes the mysterious, sarcastic yet vulnerable Jace Wayland completely. The film also boasts the talents of actors such as Headey, Jared Harris (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows), CCH Pounder (The Shield) and a typically intense Jonathan Rhys Meyers (The Tudors) as the villainous zealot, Valentine.
Fans of the original series will be pleased by the film’s loyalty to the books. But as with any page-to-screen adaptation, the result must also capture the attention of new audiences. Luckily, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones easily stands alone as a movie. With elements of comedy and fantasy, and a fast-paced plot, the film is engaging throughout. Though sometimes guilty of inspiring rather cheesy lines, the romantic sub-plot is very organic and never drives Clary’s story. Cassandra Clare’s fans may be behind the hype surrounding this release, but with its bright young cast and dark thrills, The Mortal Instruments stands a strong chance at winning over audiences of all ages.
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is released nationwide on 21st August 2013.
Watch the trailer for The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones here: