Valdosta Daily Times

August 30, 2013

‘Mortal Instruments’: City of Boneheads?

Adann-Kennn Alexxandar
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” (Action/Fantasy: 2 hours, 10 minutes)

Starring: Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, and Lena Headey

Director: Harald Zwart

Rated: R (Violence, gore, sexual innuendo and thematic elements)

Movie Review: For some movies, the preview trailers are all one needs as an indication of a film’s worth. This is the case with “The Mortal Instruments,” an adaptation of Cassandra Clare’s novel. This screenplay by Jessica Postigo, her debut, contains weak character associations, terrible acting and pitiable time continuity.

Clary Fray (Collins) discovers her missing mother is one of many warriors protecting our world from demons. Fray and a group of demon slayers fight evil forces in an alternate world known as Downworld. The quest to find Clary’s mother, Jocelyn (Headey), leads to many places, involving sorcerers, vampires, werewolves and monstrous demons. 

Zwart directed “The Karate Kid” in 2010, starring Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith. It was a worthwhile venture. “The Mortal Instruments” is just the opposite.

It contains elements from several fantasy concepts thrown like garbage in a trash bin. It is a messy, hodgepodge of oddities that clash. Even more, the acting is substandard, making the story weak and not compelling from the start.  

This is lackluster entertainment for diehard fans of the book. However, all should stay clear of this story. It jumps around from scene to scene haphazardly without making useful connections between characters and plot concepts. With every story shift, the wait for an ending appears elusive, making this tedious, torturous entertainment.   

Grade: D- (A boneheaded film.)


“You’re Next” (Thriller: 1 hour, 34 minutes)

Starring: Sharni Vinson, Joe Swanberg and AJ Bowen

Director: Adam Wingard

Rated: R (Sexuality, strong violence, profanity, gore and thematic elements)

Movie Review: The Davison family, with three friends, meet to celebrate the 35th wedding anniversary of their parents. Several assailants attack the family during an energetic dinner. The mysterious killers begin a bloody spree, but they soon find one of the Davidsons’ guests, Erin (Vinson), is not a passive victim.

This film is real for about 20 minutes. Afterwards, it turns into a stereotypical slasher movie. Multiple gruesome murders happen. Many are overly graphic violence.

The worst thing a screenplay can do is make its cast dumb to accelerate a simple plot. Most players in this film are asinine; thus, this plot is dim-witted material. In addition, no need exists to care about characters because they are only there to die.

The play out is energetic and full of surprises, but about 54 minutes into the runtime, all becomes weirder. No one should care by this point. It is a snuff film. It displays an overuse of violence.

Once “You’re Next” ends, one might just have some murderous thoughts, too. ... A bloody mess.         

Grade: D (Your money ... wasted.)


“The World’s End” (Action/Comedy/Science Fiction: 1 hour, 49 minutes)

Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine and Eddie Marsan

Director: Edgar Wright     

Rated: R (Profanity and sexual innuendo)

Movie Review: “The World’s End” is the third movie with Edgar Wright directing stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Their first grouping was with “Shaun of the Dead” (2004), followed by “Hot Fuzz” (2007). While all those films present laughs, “The World’s End” is the lesser of the three because it is not as comical.  

In the early 1990s, five young friends attempted an epic pub-hopping drinking marathon. Twenty years later, they reunite after Gary King (Pegg) wants to finish what they started. The problem is the men now have families and professions. They are grownups, except King still behaves like a teenager. Reluctantly, Andy Knightley (Frost), Oliver Chamberlain (Freeman), Steven Prince (Considine) and Peter Page (Marsan) decide to join their old friend. Their attempt to reach the last pub called The World’s End will be a difficult journey and dangerous. Most of the people in the 12-pub city are alien-android replicas. The androids’ plan is to take over Earth to better humanity. The quest for beer turns five friends into Earth’s mightiest, inebriated heroes.

This comedy is supposed to inspire laughs, but it really irritates, especially Pegg. His character behaves badly. Pegg plays the character with such a disdain that sympathy for him is unwarranted. Pegg’s Gary King is annoyingly unfunny. This makes the other men very pleasing in that they are not Gary King.

Like other Wright-Pegg-Frost productions, this one has its moments, but it never reaches a comical peak. The characters are interesting, but they never reach a moment where you feel you get to know them. Instead, audiences are left with enjoying the action bits that provide this piece with plenty of energy but otherwise it’s missing other elements.

Grade: C+ (Acceptable, but this would be better after visiting 12 pubs.)