The post-"Twilight" world can be tough. And this is where bestselling author Cassandra Clare steps in: Her "Mortal Instruments" cycle of YA novels serves up the necessary heavy-breathing ingredients for a long-running supernatural saga.
We're about to learn whether her story's got legs on film. "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones" is an adaptation of Clare's first book, and it sets the table for what is obviously meant to be an ongoing series.
It has a teenage heroine. It has dreamy/dangerous guys for the heroine to feel torn between. It has occult mumbo-jumbo and vampires and werewolves (and warlocks and wizards too, I think).
It's pretty ridiculous. But in defense of "City of Bones," it rockets along like nobody's business, in stark contrast to the last few "Twilight" pictures, which moved like a werewolf stuck in a tar pit. Of course it's absurd, but at least it has fun along the way.
For city girl Clary (Lily Collins, from "Mirror Mirror"), it comes as quite a shock that her mother (Lena Headey) vanishes from their Manhattan apartment at the same moment a group of tattooed, leather-clad hipsters start hanging around.
Even for Greenwich Village, these are no ordinary hipsters, but "shadowhunters," immortal beings who've been alive for centuries in a global battle of good vs. evil.
Clary, of course, is secretly one of them. An adventure ensues, with Clary accompanied by her geeky-yet-devoted pal Simon (Robert Sheehan) and wooed by the Robert Pattinson-esque Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower).
A magic goblet, cool daggers, watery portals to another dimension and other wacky elements are tossed out in an enjoyable rush.
The mostly British cast is capable of serving up this nonsense; Collins is a focused heroine, and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers ("The Tudors") and Jared Harris pop up to provide some grownup ballast.
Director Harald Zwart (he did the "Karate Kid" remake) shoves it all along in spirited fashion.
I should report that the preview audience laughed at the plot twists, but the movie is no more ludicrous than "Twilight," or "Harry Potter" for that matter. If your imagination turns to such fantasy, take this one up as a guilty pleasure.
"The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones" (two and a half stars)
A Manhattan girl (Lily Collins) learns she is part "shadowcatcher," an ancient race of immortals locked in a global battle of good vs. evil. You know the kind. This "Twilight" knock-off is full of werewolves and vampires, and is actually quite spirited in moving its absurd story along -- it's a guilty pleasure, but fits neatly into the Young Adult fantasy genre.
Rated: PG-13 for violence.
Showing: Alterwood 7, Everett Stadium, Galaxy Monroe, Marysville, Stanwood, Meridian, Woodinville, Casdcade Mall.
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