Feel that mortality

Lily Collins;Jamie Campbell Bower;Kevin Zegers3SR: I know you’re desperate for some solid urban fantasy, I know.  But whatever you do, do not see this terrible film.

Mortal Instruments

Starring: Lena Headey, Lily Collins, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Jamie Campbell Bower, Aidan Turner, Kevin Zegers, Jemima West

Directed by Harald Zwart

Written by Jessica Postigo, based on the novel by Cassandra Clare.

Adventure, fantasy, science fiction. 2hr 10mins. M for fantasy violence.

No stars, not a one, zero, zip, zilch, nada. None.
J K Rowling has got a lot to answer for.
It’s probably not fair to lay the blame for the mess that is Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones (even the name is bloody awful) entirely at her feet, but it’s a good starting point.
When  wilful and wildly lovely New Yorker, Clary (Lily Collins), meets the darkly attractive and inhumanly powerful Jace (Jaime Campbell Bower), she discovers that there’s more to the mundane world she lives in than meets her stunning, emerald green eye.
A super secret war is being waged  between tattooed and leather clad half-angels,  called Shadowhunters, and vile, shape-shifting demons,  called … demons.
Luckily for Clary, she’s half angel too! Surprise! And so were her mom and dad. Double surprise! Her comedy sidekick Simon (Robert “The Only Good Thing About This Film” Sheehan) isn’t though.  Ruh roh!
But Mommy dearest has been hiding Clary’s true powers, and her own dark secrets,  with magic which has made her a target for bad guys! Why would you do that mom?  That’s cray! Now Clary will have to go to night clubs full of extras from a Bauhaus music video who couldn’t let the 90s go while wearing thigh high boots and a micro mini. Wah!
Can Clary get a date with Jace, make Simon feel better about being a boring human and figure out a way to save her mom from the nasty demons out to get her?  Or will you pass out from lack of oxygen to the brain before the film is over?
So this is where JK comes in –   Mortal Instruments started life as fan fiction – Harry Potter fan fiction, no less – written for the enjoyment of Harry Potter uberfans by big name uberfan Cassandra Claire.
Clare’s sexy take on the Wacky Wizards of Hogwarts courted controversy back then, because Claire – allegedly – never tipped her hat to the many and varied sources she pilfered on the way to creating her trite, hodge-podge of a tale.

I don’t want to bandy the P-word around, but accusations of *whispers* plagiarism plagued Ms Claire, as did those of bullying, lying and generally being a bit of an ass online.

Then one day her fan fiction disappeared, only to pop up a few months later as the Mortal Instruments novels – all names changed, of course – and with a ready made cult following that guaranteed Ms Clare, as she now styles herself, a six book deal and all the clout of a major publishing house behind her.

(The worst thing about this, I think, is the incredibly bad name fan fiction gets from this  “author’s” works being so widely known. There are millions of writers and hundreds of millions of stories being written by fans, many of them of a calibre I would gladly pay money for. None of them are the product of Cassandra Clare. But I digress…)

Luckily for Ms Clare, and perhaps not so much for us, she based her stories on the work of some of the world’s great fantasy writers, so it’s not really surprising that her books were so popular they fooled some film exec somewhere into getting her cheque book out and turning on the green light.

And what a cheque book it was, too. There is a lot of money up on the screen in Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (The colon represents the goggling eyes of movie execs gazing on the endless honey pot that is YA novel adaptations), that’s for sure.  No-one scrimped to make this terrible film.

But that just makes how bad the film actually is, smart all the more. Imagine if they’d bank rolled something good, like say… practically anything else at all.

Having said that, if you like urban fantasy, Mortal Instruments will not disappoint – there are enough beloved tropes to to keep any fantasy fan happy – in the same way a happy meal will get you to shut your trap for the ten minutes it takes to eat it.

In fact you can make a game out of spotting them – that’s what Cassandra Claire and her friends used to do back in the day when these stories were given away free on the internet, for fun not profit.

Up on the big screen, however,  the pilfered highs are cobbled together with some utterly awful lows – the tacked on stroppy, gay love triangle is particularly galling –  to create a tedious monster of a film which lumbers along, a Frankenstein of visual misfires.

Bottom line, if you believe plagiarists should prosper, then by all means see this execrable film.

If the thought of someone half-inching every good thing from fantasy fiction and  jumbling it together in an ill thought out muddle of childish thumb-sucking, then this is the film for you!

A cynical, self indulgent mess that deserves no stars and, angels and demons willing, no sequels.


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