The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
Young Adult book series fails to succesfully adapt to the screens
Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments is the latest Young Adult book series to be given the big screen treatment in the hope of kick-starting another movie franchise as lucrative and long-running as Twilight and Harry Potter. But while Harald Zwart’s movie, City of Bones, has all the required ingredients – from demons, vampires and werewolves to love triangles – it quite often feels like fantasy movie making by numbers and is particularly uninspired.
Based on the first book in Clare’s six novel series, City of Bones picks up as Brooklyn teenager Clary Fray (Lily Collins) discovers that she is part of a long line of shadow hunters, or demon killers, when her mother suddenly disappears and her own life is in danger. Step forward fellow shadow hunter and protector Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower) to protect and fall in love with her, to the chagrin of her quiet, unassuming and, yes, love-struck best friend Simon (Robert Sheehan). As Clary struggles to understand and remember her past, however, she must also keep one step ahead of the demons on her trail and find a magical cup that has also been hidden by her mum.
Zwart’s film may well have a built-in fan-base when it comes to avid readers of the books but given its similarities to so many other franchises, it doesn’t deserve to reach much further. To make matters worse, it also struggles to generate any real heat between its leads, with Bower and Collins just plain bland. Sheehan is the pick of the main players, while Jared Harris lends some gravitas the film doesn’t really deserve as a professor.
But as hard as Zwart tries to keep viewers engaged with surprise revelations (of the Star Wars variety) and special effects laden showdowns, there’s no escaping the absurdity of what occurs or the failure to make that all-important emotional connection.
General release from 21 Aug.