Aug 23, 2013

    Hunger Games this is not...


    Adventure/130 minutes

    Rating: 2/5

    I HAVE not read Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instruments series, a successful franchise with a huge teen following.

    Neither am I a fan of Young Adult (YA) films that, more often than not, veer into cheesy histrionics instead of exploring the issues presented in depth. This is indeed the case for The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones.

    It could be said that The Hunger Games series sparked interest in the market for YA fans. However, attempting to replicate this formula for success is what went wrong for The Mortal Instruments.

    Directed by Harold Zwart, The Mortal Instruments revolves around Clary Fray (Lily Collins), whose unassuming life as a New Yorker comes to a halt when she finds out about the secret her mother Jocelyn (Lena Headey) has been keeping from her: She is a Shadowhunter, part of a dying breed trained to destroy demons and evil entities like Valentine (Jonathan Rhys Meyers).

    Clary seeks refuge at an institute that houses Shadowhunters after Jace Wayland (Jamie Campbell Bower), another Shadowhunter, rescues her and her human (also called a Mundane) best friend Simon (Robert Sheehan) from demons.

    While the film gets many things wrong, it does succeed in its attempts to explain the complicated plot to audience members who may not have read the books, by using Simon as a proxy to whom everything is explained in layman's terms.

    However, given its YA roots, the film ironically fails in its depiction of a tepid love triangle that struggles to leave an impression.

    While this could be attributed to the screenplay by Jessica Postigo, the lack of charisma in its leading cast members increases disinterest in this plotline.

    Again, the parallels between this film and The Hunger Games are impossible to avoid; but where the latter succeeded was with the gravitas that Jennifer Lawrence brought to her role.

    In The Mortal Instruments, Collins is mostly sidelined during the action sequences and looks helpless in most scenes.

    Instead of highlighting the love triangle repeatedly, the film would have done better if it had focused on the platonic friendship between Clary and Simon.

    The acting by the rest of the cast is average at best, with Meyers hamming it up quite hilariously as the diabolical villain.

    The film fails to use the New York setting to its advantage, eschewing the iconic city in favour of uninspired action sequences and unnecessary pop-song interludes.

    A film that raises many issues but fails to adequately explore them, The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones is uninspired and has pacing problems that result in the film coming across as messy.