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8.25 out of 10

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones


She Has Been Chosen

8.75 out of 10 | Movie and DVD

Rated: PG-13 Intense sequences of fantasy violence and action, and some suggestive content
Release Date: August 21, 2013
Runtime: 2 hours 10 minutes

Director: Harald Zwart
Writers: Jessica Postigo, based on the novel by Cassandra Clare
Cast: Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, Kevin Zegers, Jemina West, Robert Sheehan, Kevin Durand, Godfrey Gao, Lena Headley, CCH Pounder, Jared Harris, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Aiden Turner

SYNOPSIS: When her mother disappears, Clary Fray learns that she descends from a line of warriors who protect our world from demons. She joins forces with others like her and heads into a dangerous alternate New York called Downworld.

REVIEW: The Karate Kid director Harald Zwart tackles subject matter all too popular these days. Teenage angst under the guise of supernatural and fantasy story and action. The screenplay is written by Jessica Postigo (who is also writing the follow-up City of Ashes), based on the novel written by Cassandra Clare. 

A young woman named Clary (Lily Collins, Mirror Mirror) starts drawing a very specific symbol in her doodles and drawings. When her mother Jocelyn (Lena Headley, The Purge) sees it, she and her friend Luke (Aidan Turner, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey) become concerned. Like any angst-ridden teenage girl, Clary takes her uncertainties and internalizes them, choosing to take her friend Simon (Robert Sheehan, Season of the Witch) into a dance club. When Clary witnesses a man being stabbed to death in the club, she flees. Returning home, she finds her mother missing and their apartment trashed. The mysterious man reveals himself to be Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower, Anonymous), a Shadow Hunter imbued with the blood of an angel, and that the man he killed was not a man but a demon. To search for her mother, Clary teams with Jace, Isabelle (Jemina West, Lines of Wellington), Alec (Kevin Zegers, The Colony) and Simon. Along the way, Clary discovers a world called Downworld previously unknown to her - filled with witches, vampires, werewolves, warlocks, demons and angels. She also discovers new memories and powers within herself. The question is whether her new allies and her new abilities will be enough to save her mother.

Based on the international best-selling series by Cassandra Clare, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is the origin tale of young Clary as she descends into the fantastic and frightening world hidden from the Mundane humans consciences. But Clary is less concerned about her new surroundings that she is about finding the woman who is first in her life and foremost on her mind - her mother.
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is much better crafted then this year's earlier Beautiful Creatures, combining good effects, a decent story, action, and lightness. I cannot speak to the adaptation of the book, but as a standalone efforts is enjoyable and much better than other recent supernatural teenage angst films. The fact that Clary has a purpose to go along with her super natural awakenings gives the film the weight it deserves.

When half angel/half human Shadow Hunters come together, it's important that they dress as goth as possible and show off their arsenals of swords, knives and weapons. They have all manner of armaments to deal with the likes of demons and vampires. Werewolves exist in the Downworld, too, and are worthy opponents of the Shadow Hunters, but the accord between the two groups is one that has not been broken. But sometimes the enemy is much closer than one would think.

The Shadow Hunters are as chiseled and beautiful as one would expect from the descendants of drinkers of true angel blood. It would be absurd to think they would look any less righteous. These type of movies could never be without the most gorgeous of young actors and actresses. Even Clary's speckled close friend Simon is handsome once the glasses come off. But beautiful actors, slick leather clothes and shiny weapons are just part of what makes this film look good. The CGI for the demons and the "hidden" sanctuaries of the Shadow Hunters is slick as well. The action sequences are fast-paced and kinetic, supplying a few good oohs and ahs as vampires shatter through tables or Shadow Hunters are thrown into walls.

As an avid moviegoer, I have seen most of the elements that the author presents in 
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. A portal that will transport the shadow hunters to any other place on the planet is reminiscent of Stargate. The runes that are etched on the Shadow Hunters bodies can be found in any number of adventure novels, comics, or in real life. Even the concept of a hidden supernatural world is similar to Marvel's Blade movie trilogy, using a similar tone for the characters and fight scenes. While a lot of the elements are not new, the author does a fine job blending them into a story that is new and fresh.

With clever and funny dialogue, well-crafted action sequences, a well paced story, and a fresh look at an established young adult genre, the 
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones has something to satisfy the monster in all of us.

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