Running time: 130 minutes
Starring: Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, Robert Sheehan, Kevin Zegers, Jemima West
Who to see it with: Teens who like supernatural adventure and romance
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is another adaptation of a popular young adult book series. It's set in a world where "mundanes"--a term for humans like Harry Potter's "muggles"--are joined by a hidden group of special, demon-hunting humans called Shadowhunters. Like other recent adaptations, there's a love triangle. In fact, there are multiple relationships complicated by unfriendly desires. I'll give credit to CoB's romance subplots for their progressive treatment of sexuality and a few unexpected turns, but the frequent laughing heard during some twists indicates that they may be a bit hard to swallow, especially for those who have not read the books. This isn't helped by the often overly familiar setup and music of the romantic scenes.
CoB's urban fantasy, hidden underworld setting is darker and grittier than those of most recent teen-targeted franchises, seemingly targeted toward stereotypically brooding teens. Once again, there are vampires and werewolves, but they are often secondary to other unique monsters and demons. The CG is mostly effective at rendering the secret world and its beasts. Shadowhunters have a curiously gothic wardrobe and the ladies wear very impractical footwear; fortunately, the characters are humorously self-aware and comment on these and other peculiarities. It's hard to take the story seriously when nearly everyone is dressed like bikers, and the central romance too rapidly escalates from a reluctant partnership to making out to melodramatic arguments. The villain's goal and plan are a bit vague and unclear. I think something was lost in translation, that certain plot points and character interactions are rushed. Viewers unfamiliar with the source material may find The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones unsatisfying and unintentionally funny despite its inspired setting and a fun sense of self-awareness.
Don't see it.