Sunday 25 August 2013

Review: The Mortal Instruments - City of Bones

World of Blackout Film Review

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones Poster

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
Cert: 12A / 130 mins / Dir. Harald Zwart

Well the good news is that City of Bones is better than the trailer would suggest. The bad news is that there's still plenty of What The Trailer Would Suggest in there. The film is well acted, well scored and beautifully shot, but the elements of The Hero's Journey slow the story down unnecessarily, and the supernatural-romance aspect keeps throwing the whole thing into neutral.

Neither of those are inherently bad in themselves, but tMICoB*1 is better when it's an unfolding mystery about secret societies of creatures, mortal or otherwise. The film also seems to have trouble blending the three elements together, and the result is a set of different coloured threads that never weave together as smoothly as they need to. It's a real shame because when it's working, it's entertaining as hell. Luckily it changes track so often that you won't be rolling your eyes at Jamie Campbell Bower's quippy dialogue for too long before it's back to slicing demons apart...

Despite my moaning, the film never got to the point where I couldn't bear it. As is so often the case with this sort of thing, the problems I have with it are centred around the story itself, not its telling. With that in mind, it succeeds fairly well, and I'll be interested to see where the series goes from here. Oh, but the least said about the Deus Ex Sonic Screwdriver, the better.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is a decent telling of a half-decent story. The part that's reminiscent of Nightbreed is hugely enjoyable; the part that's reminiscent of Twilight is hugely tedious. And the parts that are channelling The Empire Strikes Back almost made me fall out of my seat laughing*2.

For what it is, it's rather good; but what it is may not be for you.

Is the trailer representative of the film?
It's representative of one aspect; the film is more than that.

Did I laugh, cry, gasp and sigh when I was supposed to?

Does it achieve what it sets out to do?
I'd imagine so.

Pay at the cinema, Rent on DVD or just wait for it to be on the telly?
The effects work nicely on the big screen, but the rest is strictly DVD-fare.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Will I watch it again?
Only in prep for the second one.

Is there a Wilhelm Scream?
There isn't. Why not?

And because you won't be happy until I've given it a score...

And my question for YOU is…
I can't be the only one to have got the Ghostbusters reference, can I? The audience at my screening sat stony-faced through that. Philistines.

*1 That's what all the cool kids are calling it, right?
*2 Oh, I know there's a layer of deception and falsehood in those scenes, but the intonation is there.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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