‘Mortal Instruments’ accompanied by ‘Buffy,’ ‘Twilight’ tropes
By BRUCE INGRAM For Sun-Times Media August 20, 2013 5:44PM
‘THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: city of bones’ ★★1⁄2
Clary Lily Collins
Jace Jamie Campbell Bower
Simon Robert Sheehan
Jocelyn Lena Headey
Valentine Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Sony Pictures presents a film directed by Harald Zwart and written by Jessica Postigo. Running time: 130 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for intense sequences of fantasy violence and action, and some suggestive content). Opens Wednesday at local theaters.
Updated: August 22, 2013 9:06PM
It might be nice to have a secret, fateful destiny.
Imagine discovering one day that you’re not just a plain, ordinary, 15-year-old girl, but a plain, ordinary 15-year-old girl with magical powers, a crucial role in the eternal war between good and evil and a couple of hot guys who are crazy about you. Not to mention a sexy new wardrobe. Oh, and that your mother’s gone missing also.
Well, you have to factor in the army of demons and vampires trying to kill you, but who cares, really, with all the opportunities for romance, drama, thrills and more romance?
Fifteen-year-old Clary (played by 24-year-old Lily Collins of “Mirror, Mirror”) seems pretty happy with the situation in “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones,” the first adaptation of the best-selling young-adult fantasy adventure novels by Cassandra Clare. There’s nothing here that hasn’t been seen before — Clare having swiped big hunks of plot from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Twilight” along with a certain well-known shocking revelation from the “Star Wars” saga — but everything chugs along briskly and reasonably entertainingly until running off the rails a bit with a wildly overcomplicated finale.
Clary is a Shadowhunter, part of a half-angel/half-mortal hereditary clan devoted for centuries to keeping the forces of evil, demons in particular, in check. Her mother (Lena Headey), one of the shadow-hunting greats, apparently, has hidden Clary’s true identity from her to protect her from a renegade group led by the evil Valentine (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), who has nefarious motives for tracking Clary down.
Soon, Clary’s mom has gone missing and she and secretly crushing BFF Simon (Robert Sheehan of the U.K. supernatural TV series “Misfits”) are being menaced by shape-shifting demon dogs and the like. That’s when Jace (“Twilight” veteran Jamie Campbell Bower), a young, blonde, good-guy Shadowhunter, who sports low-slung leather pants and a bad-boy attitude as a bonus, comes to their rescue and teaches Clary about her cool new mission in life. Which will involve battles with demons and vampires and a climactic mega-showdown in an invisible gothic cathedral in the middle of Manhattan with the fate of mankind at stake.
Unlike Joss Whedon’s teenage vampire-hunter Buffy, however (the obvious model for Clare’s series), Clary doesn’t really get personally involved in the actual business of dispatching demons, despite a new action-ready outfit consisting of a tight mini-dress and thigh-high spiked boots. She’s always in the fray but typically in need of being rescued by Jace, stirring passions between them that can never (Clare having learned well from “Twilight” author Stephenie Meyer) be consummated.
We won’t spoil the reason for their restraint. Let’s just say it’s surprisingly creepy. Compared to them, Bella and Edward had it easy.
Bruce Ingram is a local free-lance writer.