Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Mortal Instruments - City of Bones (the film)

In case you haven't guessed by now, I love paranormal stories and films.  That's my go to entertainment for reading and watching. Oh sure, I read other things and watch many other films, but I've had a lifelong fascination with the paranormal.

Let's put it this way, when other kids my age were watching Disney cartoons, I was watching old black and white Universal Studios horror classics - Dracula, The Wolfman, Frankenstein, etc.  I knew who Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff were before I was six.  Of course I didn't know Karloff's real name was William Henry Pratt and he was an English gentleman by birth who loved to garden.

Oh sure, I saw the Disney cartoons, too, but except for Fantasia, they didn't really hold my interest...Remember the Night on Bald Mountain segment in Fantasia?  There's the answer...

As an adult I like to read paranormal stories - I've reviewed several such books on this blog and will be reviewing two more in the near future.  I like paranormal films, too, though I draw the line at gratuitous violence/slasher movies.  Those I skip.  I want more of a story than just "weird kid turns serial killer and slashes a bunch of nubile teenagers."

Anyway, last year, my manicurist Jesse (what a font of info she is!) recommended The Mortal Instrument series by NY Times Bestselling author Cassandra Clare.  I liked the books and anxiously awaited the first film's arrival on cable.  At last it's on the schedule.

The series is the story of the paranormal set in New York City.  A seventeen year old girl, Clary, sees a murder in a club that no one else there appears to see.  The killer makes eye contact with her and she runs.  When she gets home, she finds her mother is gone and their flat is damaged.  Eventually, Jace, the killer she saw, catches up to her.  He tells her he is a shadow hunter and the only reason she can see him is that she was born one as well.  Needless to say, Clary's life will never be the same.

Thus starts an adventure that leads Clary and her human best friend, Simon, into a world that they never suspected was all around them.  They are pulled into an adventure of learning and witnessing miracles on a daily basis.

This is a dark story which although reminiscent of the later Harry Potter films, is grittier, more real.
Clary isn't sure who the villains are for half of the film, though she finds out.  Also, Clary turns out to be very powerful once her abilities are revealed.  She is special to the extent that she amazes the other shadow hunters.  With her lineage, she should be...

A shadow hunter is a being descended from angels and humans.  They guard the mundane population (think muggles) and keep the world safe from dark forces.

The film is atmospheric, shot with a film noir quality, that is refreshing.  The cast is impressive.

Lily Collins plays Clary.  She is a beautiful young woman who will remind you of the young Elizabeth Taylor.  Yes, she is that pretty.

Jamie Campbell Bower plays Jace, the original shadow hunter Clary met.  Theirs is a love relationship with a tragic twist.

Robert Sheehan plays Simon, Clary's best friend who wants to be her lover.  He is the resident nerd of the piece, but doesn't really resemble the typical nerd as portrayed in films and television.

Kevin Zegars plays Alec, another shadow hunter who does not want Clary in their group.

Jemima West plays Isabelle, Alec's sister, who isn't too thrilled with Clary at first, but accepts her in the end.

Lena Headey plays Jocelyn, Clary's mother.  If she looks familiar to you, it's because she plays Cercei Lannister, mother of Joffrey, on Game of Thrones.  Jocelyn is NOTHING like Cercei, except that she is also protective of her child.

Aidan Turner plays Luke, Jocelyn's friend and Clary's father substitute.  Did I mention he's also a werewolf?  That's one of the surprises Clary gets when she sees the world as it truly is.

Godfrey Gao plays Magnus Bane, the most powerful warlock in the story.  The character is difficult to define in the book and also in the movie.  It isn't clear in the beginning where his loyalties lie.

Veteran character actress CCH Pounder plays Madame Dorothea, Jocelyn and Clary's landlady, who is not at all what she seems.

The film is exciting, filled with memorable images of magic and metaphysical mayhem.  For the fans of the books, it is a true rendition of the story.

The Institute where much of the action occurs is like a 1930s monster movie version of Hogwarts, with fewer fun things to see but more danger lurking.

If you're a fan of the paranormal, catch this film on TV or video.  It's highly entertaining.

The second film in the series, The Mortal Instruments - City of Ashes, is currently in production.

I recommend the books as well.  It is an interesting premise with lots of twists and turns.

Until next time, take care.  Enjoy the spring weather (if you have it.)

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