Starring Lily Collins, Lena Headey, and Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Rated PG.
Well, this is pleasing: vampires, werewolves, and, importantly, demon hunters who don’t make us want to off ourselves in the theatre. Yes, there’s a lot of leather and guyliner and crazy weaponry in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, but that is clearly what it takes to excitingly battle demons in Brooklyn. And by “demons”, I don’t mean hipsters.
Those who have read Cassandra Clare’s fantasy novels aloud to their cat will already know things about City of Bones (the first in the Instruments series). In the movie, New York teen Clary Fray (Lily Collins) lives with her artist mother, Jocelyn (Lena Headey), and Jocelyn’s boyfriend, Luke (Aidan Turner). Then Clary begins seeing disturbing things, Jocelyn disappears, and an enigmatic, rune-tattooed dude named Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower) tells Clary she’s not a “mundane”, something we all long to hear. Oh, and demons are about.
Things are exactly as suspenseful, mysterious, and rather scary as one wants them to be. Then, excellently, we mundanes are plunged into the hidden world of the half-human, half-angel Shadowhunters, aka demon hunters, with Clary. Somehow, director Harald Zwart wrangles innumerable characters, intense action sequences, and an insanely complicated plot and back story—for instance, many folks are seeking the importantly named Mortal Cup, including possibly demented head Shadowhunter Valentine (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). There is also a love triangle involving Clary, Jace, and Clary’s mundane BFF Simon (Robert Sheehan) that seems like Casablanca when compared to a certain icky, soppy Twilight triangle.
What with all the vampires, werewolves, warlocks, and spectacularly unfriendly demons, there are some quite stunning visual effects. But the actors hold their own amid the wackness. And Collins feels just right: understandably weirded out yet resourceful. Faced with demons, we would certainly behave similarly—with some uncontrollable sobbing.