With a winsome teenage heroine unwittingly caught up in a war between light and dark supernatural forces, a glowering hunk of a hero and a budding love triangle, romantic fantasy-adventure The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones couldn’t be more blatant in its bid to become the next Twilight.
And the borrowings don’t stop at Stephenie Meyer’s vampire tale. The Mortal Instruments also pinches from a host of other sources including Harry Potter, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and a very famous sci-fi saga.
Yet if you can overlook the lack of originality, the film actually makes a good fist of making something fresh and appealing from its second-hand ingredients.
Lily Collins (daughter of Phil) plays the protagonist, Clary, an ordinary Brooklyn teenager who turns into a kick-ass demon-hunter after discovering her connection to a long line of half-angel warriors called Shadowhunters.
Sporting blond hair, black clothes and razor-sharp cheekbones, Jamie Campbell Bower’s Jace is the swaggering Goth-like Shadowhunter who becomes her guide to a world where warlocks and werewolves lurk behind normal guises and where a slobbering dog can suddenly transform into a slimy, tentacle waving monster. And Robert Sheehan (Misfits) is her geeky, crush-harbouring best friend.
It’s this romantic triangle that will probably most hold the imagination of the film’s target audience, rather than the overly complicated plot derived from Cassandra Clare’s bestselling novel, which involves the search for Clary’s missing mother (Lena Headey) and for a mystical chalice that holds the key to humanity’s survival. Fortunately, director Harald Zwart gives the action a fair degree of zip and the likeable leads make the most of the script’s playful, self-aware wit, while Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Jared Harris supply ripe supporting turns.
Released in cinemas from Wednesday 21st August.
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