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Mortal Instruments, The: City of Bones


Stars: Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, Robert Sheehan, Kevin Zegers, Lena Headey, Kevin Durand, Aidan Turner, Jemima West, Godfrey Gao, CCH Pounder, Jared Harris, Jonathan Rhys Meyers

Director: Harold Zwart

I admit it.

After suffering years of having to watch Daniel Radcliffe et al growing up and fighting strange people and strange creatures with even stranger names in the seemingly endless Harry Potter fantasies, followed by several cinematic sessions with brooding blood-sucker Robert Pattinson who, having escaped Harry and his pals, ended up in the somewhat bloodless vampire in the films of Stephenie Meyer’s best selling vampire romances, I was looking forward to having some time off from having to sit through fey filmic fantasies.


Hollywood has found yet another series of books to inflict on cinemagoers. This time Cassandra Clare’s 2007 best-selling novel (some 22 million sales world-wide and translation into 36 languages) has been adapted for the screen by Jessica Postigo Paquette and directed by Harold Zwart in the hope of creating yet another fantasy franchise a la Potter. And, the heart sinks, a sequel, The Mortal Instruments: City of Ashes has already been announced.

But back to the matter in hand.

We are in contemporary New York where, after her mother (Lena Headey) vanishes (how I envied her!) ordinary teenager Lily Collins discovers she is anything but ordinary – in fact she is a half angel and descended from a secret group known as Shadowhunters (“Half Angel, Half human. Beings of immense power, strong enough to restore balance... and protect the world in a war against evil”), who continue an ancient battle to protect the human world from vicious demons. And, joining the battle with her guide Jamie Campbell Bower (“I've been killing demons for over a third of my life”), she learns about an alternative New York known as Downworld where sinister creatures including demons, warlocks, vampires and werewolves flourish…

I assume Zwart knew what was going on. Unfortunately he lost me early on and I was left watching efficient special effects sequences and assorted assaults up supernatural creatures without really knowing what the hell was happening.

Which, quite frankly, I found was the only way to get through the confused and confusing narrative – in other words to sit back and wait for it all to end while Collins and Co sought her missing mother.

I never imagined I’d want to see another Potter movie again. But I’d happily suffer through such a blight if it meant missing this mishap.

Alan Frank

USA 2013. UK Distributor: Entertainment One. Colour.
130 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 02 Sep 2013