"The Mortal Instruments - City Of Bones" is an overdramatic take on the age-old battle between good and evil forces. It is a youth adventure fiction film based on Cassandra Clare's eponymous novel.
Jampacked with vampires, werewolves, warlocks, fairies, and a teenage love triangle, this is a saga of a 'shadow hunter' - a member of a secret society of demon hunters.
Clarissa Fray (Lily Collins), a seemingly conventional young lady leads a routine life attending poetry sessions and club-hopping with her best friend Simon (Robert Sheehan) while she stays with her artist mother (Lena Headey) in Brooklyn.
Suddenly one day, strange and inexplicable things start happening to her. On a date with Simon at a pub, she witnesses a murder that apparently only she can see. Distraught, she rushes home and soon enough, she inexplicably doodles a symbol that gets her mother worried. That symbol has something to do with the other world. There is a past that her mother is holding back from her.
Meanwhile, she is being followed by Jace Wayland (Jamie Campbell Bower), one of the murderers from the club. On questioning him, as to how is it that only she can see him, he tells her - "Because you are not a mundane."
"What is a mundane?"
"Someone from the human world," he answers. Confused and taken aback, she does not know how to react.
Around the same time, she gets a frantic call from her mother. When she returns home, she finds her apartment ransacked, her mother missing and she is attacked by an unusual creepy creature.
Muddled and distraught, she learns that her mother was a shadow hunter, implying that she herself may have the shadow hunter blood in her. And soon after, Clary is inducted into the world of these half-angel and half-humans along with Simon.
From there begins her adventure of finding the power secret, "The mortal cup", which her mother had apparently hid to protect it from the villains.
In this world of half-angels, the narration is laced with romantic tangles brewing between; Clary-Jace-Simon, another shadow-hunter Alec (Kevin Zegers) has mood swings for Jace, Alec's sister Isabelle (Jemina West) has feelings for Simon and Magnus Bane (Godfrey Gao), the High Warlock of Brooklyn, seems to have a thing for Alec. The legs of the love triangles are pleasantly edgy and endearing.
The idea of a mysterious mystical netherworld just beyond our own is an enticing concept, and having the audience charmed with the fragile and beautiful Collins is awesome.
Jamie Campbell Bower as the icy sarcastic Jace and Robert Sheehan as the sincere "always there for you" type of lover are jittery and adorable, respectively.
All the rest of the supporting-cast are great: Jonathan Rhys Meyers as the power-hungry shadow hunter Valentine is sexy and evil; Lena Headey is daring and angelic; Jemima West is bold but understated; and pants-less Godfrey Gao is the alluring newcomer with oriental looks. CCH Pounder manages to make the most of her eye-rolling turn as tarot card-reading Madame Dorothea.
The production design by Francois Seguin is beautifully captured with some imaginative visual effects, in luscious anamorphic widescreen by the director of photography, Geir Hartly Andreassen. The computer generated images seamlessly merge with the film, especially during a sequence set in the vampire-filled room in the climax.
Director Harald Zwart, who earlier presented "Karate Kid", struggles to deliver this rather overtly complicated story effectively. There's so much bouncing around in tone and story that the film flounders with its cheesiness. There are features worth reveling in the film, and thankfully, it is less self-serious than the "Twilight" films.
Nevertheless, the young and the exuberant will find "The Mortal Instruments - City Of Bones" worth a watch.