Wednesday, September 11, 2013

City Of Bones: Complicated, No Bones About It

The world is a complicated place in
The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones.


ARTH VADER (AV): As the first installment to the The Mortal Instruments series of books, City of Bones chronicles 15 year-old Clarissa Fray as she discovers a mystical world woven into our own, shrouded by magic, mystery and mayhem. Wrought with danger and peril at every turn, the young 'Clay' must accept her widening role as a Shadow hunter, a gifted slayers of vampires and demons. According to my 16-year-old daughter, this film is extremely faithful to the source material. Though I have NOT read the series—written by renowned urban teen fantasy writer, Cassandra Clare–my daughter has read the series several times over and she can indeed confirm the authenticity and alignment of the movie. 

THE PONTIFICATOR (TP): I have never read any of the novels by Cassandra Clare, so I have no frame of reference with which to compare the accuracy of the film... although I will certainly take your daughter’s word Vader, as gospel. It seems that there are a plethora of novels, so I assume there may be more films... which would help to explain all the loose ends in this one.


AV: With a cast of mostly young, unknown up-and-comers, this movie holds a delightful energy. The more senior roles, such as CCH Pounder (The Wire) and Jared Harris (Mad men, Resident Evil) help lend their considerable acting chops to City of Bones, the direction, was–for me–a bit heavy-handed at times, but was remarkably well paced and the shot framing kept pace with the film's tempo and story arc. Director Harald Zwart (Karate Kid, Agent Cody Banks) handled a complex story line like a pro. Ponty, you're up… 

TP: The casting wasn’t significant as there were no really big names attached to the film. Lena Headey (300) got to sleep for most of the film and Jared Harris (Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows) certainly wasn’t delivering as he did when he was Professor Moriarty. If I had to sum up the rest of the actors in one word... unremarkable would be that word. To round out the trifecta... the direction of this film was all over the place. I struggled to keep pace with who was who and what was what as the film just kept throwing half thought out ideas and lame dialogue at me for the better part of two hours.

AV: City of Bones delivers a rich tapestry of visual effects set designs, CGI and audio effects. A few paragraphs ago I mentioned heavy handedness as a note on this film. Now to my eyes, the visual presentation is terrific but in all honesty, it is a bit much. There are sequences that are downright overdone as the "City" is revealed to the audience and the reliance on heavy effects shots is commonly a concern but this movie makes no effort to disguise it's true nature (as is the movie's story) and dazzles the viewer with an array of dizzying effects shots. Overall, I was impressed with the film's handling of SF/X. What did you think my friend? 

TP: Wake me up when they add a component to the effects that make them “special” Vader. Really, no new ground was broken and the stuff we’ve already seen wasn’t even done well. I’m sorry, but there is a barometer now for werewolves and vampires since they’ve been done so much...and the filmmakers should have taken notes. The demons were just ridiculous and made no sense as I wondered if they were just Resident Evil rejects. You’d figure the money saved on getting some talent would have at least been spent to dazzle us.


AV:  While this moving fits snugly into a growlingly aggravating genre for me—namely the "special-teenager-saves-the-world-because-the-stupid-adults-can't" genre—I can see why this film and book series is so popular. It's the single 'mysterious' Mom (with brooding past intact) raising a rebellious, fiercely independent daughter in a broken home, with all kinds of hijinks and interesting characters, mystical and not-so-much, all around her. There's romance, danger and the hint of ancient evil infused in her family tree that dates back for eon's–literally since the distinction between good and evil was defined–which is a familiar and quite frankly, uninspired storytelling approach. In fact, there are no real original thoughts here but the story and the approach taken to tell it are passionate. P-Man, what did you think of this latest teenager-turned-savior adventure? 

TP: Ok... half the film to answer the “who am I question” and the other half to change the answer we finally got. I just don’t think the writers should be smoking the good stuff while planning these films. Character development was tragic and I never felt connected to anyone in this film... indeed, I began rooting for the bad guy just so it could all be over... painfully. I don’t think I have enough fingers to count all the loose ends... worse still, is I don’t really care. Simon was probably the most interesting character to me as he was the “mundane”...the regular human in the pack of half-angel warriors...dealing with repressed love as the desire of his affection fell for her... brother? We never get to see the resolution or development of poor Simon after his abduction and rescue from vampires... as he was obviously changing in some way from the bite he sustained. The bite Clary discovers, but says absolutely nothing about despite knowing it came from vampires (weird). Weirder still is the insinuation that Clary and Jace might still go forward with their feelings... even after finding out they are siblings (ugh). I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since her half-angel mother was shacking up with a werewolf (ugh again).

I still can’t figure out the title... as they spent about two minutes in the actual City of Bones and the significance of the visit was lost the moment they left. That’s like calling Star Wars “Star Wars: Greedo’s Revenge” based on his brief bar scene. I think the point of this film was NOT to make sense. 


AV: This movie is sequel-bond as, down to it's DNA, it is engineered as the launchpad for a trilogy (or greater sum) of films. While this movie doesn't wholly appeal to the adult movie-goer, it conveniently–and competently–fills the hungry teen and tween market-space for fantasy and drama. I am interested to see more as the fantasy element is highly engaging and ventures further into more mature arenas than simply teen love fests between super-empowered kids who are 'learning their true destiny'. I know my daughter is certainly giddy for the next installment. Pontificator, what were your thoughts? 

TP: My thoughts Vader...? I know there are a plethora of books out there with more material that can be shown... I’m just hoping they don’t bother to show it.


ARTH VADER rates The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones: The truth is this movie is fun to watch, if not a hair overcomplicated but, according to my trusted–if not totally biased 16-year-old info source–this movie actually covers all of book 1 and part of the follow-up installment, City of Ashes. While not entirely original, this movie delights and leaves the viewer cued up for future installments. So having not read the series, this sci-fi/fantasy movie-lover gives The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones seven (7) busted, if not somewhat enchanted, Busted Blocks. 

THE PONTIFICATOR rates Mortal Instruments: City of Bones: I disliked this movie. Granted, it wasn’t the worst film I have ever scene, but it sure was among the most annoying. The story was dumb, the acting was tortuous... and it didn’t even have the gall to make sense. It tried to slice it’s way to the top, but could only manage to cut four (4) busted blocks... and they didn’t even bleed. 

Mortal Instruments: City of Bones 5.5 / 10 Busted Blocks

Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments:

Post a Comment