Cast: Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, Robert Sheehan, Kevin Zegers, Lena Headey, Kevin Durand, Aidan Turner, Godfrey Gao; Direction: Harald Zwart; Story: based on Cassandra Clare’s novels; Screenplay: Jessica Postigo Paquette; Cinematography: Geir Hartly Andreassen; Editing: Michael Kahn; Music: Atli Orvarsson; Producers: Don Carmody, Robert Kutzer; Genre: Fantasy-Adventure- Teen Romance; Running Time:130 minutes Location: New York, USA; Distributor: Sony Pictures
Technical assessment: 3
Moral assessment: 2.5
MTRCB Rating: PG13
CINEMA Rating: V18
Jocelyn (Headey) and husband Luke (Turner) seem to be a normal couple trying to raise a stubborn teenage daughter Clary Fray (Collins). But when Clary becomes unconsciously obsessed with a certain rune, Jocelyn becomes alarmed and realizes their family secret is about to be discovered. On the same night, Clary takes nerdy best friend Simon (Sheehan) to a night club where she witnesses three Goth teenagers murdering one of the guests. The following day, she sees Jace (Bower), one of the Goth murderers, outside a café while she talks with Simon. She decides to confront the stalker and simultaneously receives a distressing call from her mother being attacked and asking her not to come home. Clary ignores her mother’s instructions and rushes home. She finds their house in disarray and her mother missing. A demon-mutant dog attacks her but fortunately Jace arrives and saves her from being torn into pieces. Clary and Simon are taken by Jace to an abandoned church in the middle of New York. They learn that Jace is a Shadowhunter—a half-human, half-angel warrior trained to hunt demons—and Clary, like her mother, is one as well. Apparently Clary’s memory and powers were blocked when she was a child to protect her from Valentine, a rebel Shadowhunter who wanted to create a stronger breed of warriors to rule to world. She learns that her mother ran away from Valentine and has hidden the Mortal Cup to thwart his plans. Now it is up to Clary to discover her true self, retrieve the missing Mortal Cup, save her mother, and stop Valentine.
The movie adaptation of Cassandra Clare’s best seller dismally fails to capitalize on another teenage fantasy romance. Audiences who are not familiar with the book will not be able to keep up with the many sub-plots and foreshadowing. Neither the storyline nor the different characters were clearly explained nor given proper resolutions. For example, it is not clear where a Shadowhunter is immortal or not, and, who is Magnus Bane? While the battle sequences are action-packed and stimulating they are not enough to resuscitate the movie from the narrative’s dull development and predictable screenplay. The actors may have been physically perfect for the part but are just deadweight in their thespic interpretations. Collins gives a monotonous performance, Bower has the same deadpan expression all throughout and Meyers is simply unbelievable in his evil quest. The premise by itself is promising with a darker storyline and richer context but director Zwart failed to successfully translate the book into film. Even the romance part is unsuccessful and makes even the love struck target market cringe in its cheesiness.
Mortal instruments tackles the same coming of age discovery that he/she is meant to do something unequivocally important for humanity and lead the ultimate battle between good and evil. It could be said that with people working together and setting aside differences, good will always triumph. However, the movie has some disturbing subplots. For instance, there are undertones of homosexuality in reference to Alec and Magnus. While the homosexual relationship between the two will still be developed in the sequel, parents might not be too happy with protagonist heroes openly engaging in homosexual relationships. Secondly, and more central to the main storyline is the forbidden romance between siblings Clary and Jace. Interestingly, MTRCB issued an advisory against violent fight scenes which were actually tolerable and non-graphic but failed to note the abovementioned issues.