Director: Harald Zwart
Starring: Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, Robert Sheehan, Lena Headley, CC Pounder, Jared Hartis, Jonathan Rhys Meyers.
Written by: Jessica Postigo and (based on the novel by) Cassandra Clare
Running Time: 130 mins
Release date: 21st August 2013
So the hunt for the new contender to take the crown from Harry Potter and Twilight continues. Already this year we have had Warm Bodies and Beautiful Creatures, both which I enjoyed much more than I had any right to. Now comes The Mortal Instruments, based on the series of novels by Cassandra Clare. Could they be the replacement that the teen audience are looking for? On the evidence of this first film, I’m not so sure because it didn’t seem to have an original bone in its body.
Clary is a young girl living with her mother, who finds herself obsessed with a symbol that she can’t help but draw or see. Then she discovers that she can see a strange tattooed man but no one else can. This is Jace, a blonde haired warrior defending the world against demons. Clary’s mother disappears and she is drawn into a world where she has to battle all kinds of creatures in order to find a cup that can restore order within the Downworld, an alternative land in New York, by joining the Shadowhunters.
It’s starts off with some promise. A group of mysterious warriors battling demons. Ok, I can go with that. As the film makes its merry way and to it’s credit, it does move at a hefty pace most of the time, you find yourself feeling you’ve been here before. That demented dog looks familiar. In fact it looks like something from John Carpenter’s The Thing. Then demons are soon replaced by vampires…then werewolves enter the scene. Hang on, it’s Twilight and True Blood all over again.
You then find yourself making a mental check list of all the references it makes to other films: Ghostbusters is there but without the humour, Close Encounters is mentioned and when one of the most famous scenes in cinematic history (I’m talking about The Empire Strikes Back…know which one I mean?) suddenly appears, I couldn’t help myself from laughing out loud (the only one in the cinema who did, mind you).
Have we really come to this? That a film that is after a specific audience could blatantly steal from other films and think it can get away with it? It would have been quite a decent enough slab of entertainment. The set pieces are well executed and the production values are quite high but it really needs someone to come along and say “Please, be original!”
The performances are almost all at the same level. Everyone speaks in that monotone, dead pan voice as if they are doomed if they speak any louder or use inflections. Lily Collins is fine as the heroine, Clary while blonde haired, half naked (most of the time) Jamie Campbell Bower doesn’t have to do much except stand there and let the teenage girls drool.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers appears and acts like the pantomime villain. I just wanted him to turn to the camera and say “Oh no she isn’t!”. Jared Harris, as a elderly wise man who helps Clary see the way is also fine but I couldn’t help but think a bigger name would have been more suited for the role. Bill Nighy would have been perfect.
Then we come to the finale. This seems to go on forever. Just as one peril is unfolded and a solution found, then another one appears. For at least 20 minutes (it might have been longer) and it feels like it is never going to end. Not forgetting the cheesy “love” scene in which we get rain, budding flowers and an annoying pop song by Demi Lovato.
If you have read the books (and I admit I haven’t) I am sure you will enjoy this. I’m not saying it’s completely without merit and I did like some of the more impressive set pieces. I just felt cheated. If I wanted to see Harry Potter, Twilight, Blade or Hellboy, I’d watch them. I didn’t want to watch the greatest hits being played out in another, lesser film.