The best thing, worst thing, and main thing about the Twilight wannabe flick “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” in about the time it takes to watch the trailer.
Why settle for teenage angst in the world of Vampires and Werewolves when you could include every fantasy and religious creature in the entirety of the universe… ever.
“The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” is a movie just as boring, congested, and confusing as it’s title. Based on a popular book series by Cassandra Clare, the movie follows a teenage girl as she discovers she is what’s known as a “Shadow Hunter” which is apparently a group of usually invisible beings who draw on themselves to create super powers and engages in conflicts with every category of other worldly bad guys you can think of. We journey with her as she discovers her place in that world as well as how her family history plays into the security of the earth’s other inhabitants, known to the Shadow Hunters as muggles, I mean, mundanes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure the book might be a good read, but this movie is not a good watch. Borrowing liberally from Harry Potter and Twilight (probably more from the latter) the movie feels like a muddled mess of cliche and tween money grabbing. Still, I have to admit it’s not fully without it’s charm.
Despite it’s best efforts the movie did manage to draw me in in one way, lets call it the best thing for arguments sake, the world is pretty interesting. Every once in awhile I found myself captivated by a concept that was both interesting and well executed. Whether it be the runes (symbols the shadow hunters would tattoo on themselves for different purposes) or the sonic screwdriver like wands, there were moments where I thought, well, at least someone with a creative intelligence had their hands in this at some point. I also thought many of the visual effects were well executed even if the scenes they were used in were often made unwatchable by the confusing mess of monsters that participated.
And that’s the worst thing about City of Bones, there’s just too much stuff! This amount of exposition can work in novel form, but trying to squeeze it into a 2 hour film becomes a futile task. It makes for alternating scenes of mile a minute action and nattering story development, that makes the whole viewing process feel like trying to watch someone learn to drive a stick shift. Lot’s of starts and stops, and screeches and sputters. The low key acting, which is apparently how the kids do it these days, doesn’t do much to alleviate these issues. And there is one performance that is so bad, I almost feel mean calling them out… but since its my job its the friend who wishes he were more than a friend. It’s one of those performances you figure even their family and friends are like, whoa dude, you kinda missed the mark on this one.
Overall, If you’re a fan of the book you might find a way to enjoy this. The world has some interesting quirks to it and it seems well realized visually, otherwise, I doubt you will find much use in plowing through the cliched, confusing, and boring piece of film. The rune I would write on this movie is a D+, and hopefully the power it gives is that you won’t have to see it.
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