Movie Reviews

The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones | 3/5

The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones | 3/5
Lily Collins gets ‘em demons as heroine Clary Fray in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.
Published: 3:03 AM, August 22, 2013
Updated: 3:50 PM, August 22, 2013

SINGAPORE — It’s difficult not to compare The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones with the first Twilight movie. For one, both films are based on young adult fantasy novels with, er, enthusiastic fan bases. And, of course, there is that tricky teen love triangle. Twilight sees the human Bella choosing between a vampire heartthrob and a super buff werewolf. The Mortal Instruments has our heroine Clary stuck between her human best friend and a bad boy Shadowhunter. So if you’re over the age of 50, we’d understand if you stopped reading right now.

Despite the movie’s frankly trite plot twists, however, there is a little less eye-rolling involved watching City Of Bones, the first instalment of the series. Unlike Kristen Stewart’s Bella Swan, who remains human (and annoyingly vulnerable) for most of the series, Lily Collins does a solid job playing the strong and independent Clary Fray who, after her mother’s disappearance, discovers she is the descendant of a line of Shadowhunters, half-Angel warriors who have been fighting to protect the world from demons for a thousand years.

Credit should also be given to Norwegian director Harald Zwart (The Karate Kid, Agent Cody Banks) and screenwriter Jessica Postigo for stuffing Mortal Instruments’ immense underworld of Shadowhunters, warlocks, vampires, werewolves and demons into a neat 130-minute movie, even though this means some of the rules of author Cassandra Clare’s fantasy world are not adequately explained.

We can wax lyrical about City Of Bones, and how much we preferred that it’s chock-full of exciting action sequences, rather than nauseating romantic ones that have teen actors spending long minutes staring lovingly into each other’s eyes. But ultimately, the choice between Mortal Instruments and Twilight may all come down to one thing — whether you would rather believe there are Shadowhunters who can fight demons with runes, or vampires who sparkle in the sunlight.

(130 minutes, PG-13)