Studios have been eagerly dipping into the pool of young adult book adaptations, following the runaway success of Harry Potter and Twilight. However, in proportion to every film that hits it big (The Hunger Games), there seem to be a handful that only manage mixed business (Percy Jackson, The Spiderwick Chronicles) or fizzle out immediately on impact (The Seeker: The Dark is Rising).
So that begs the question: what will the turnout be for The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (which is based on the first installment in author Cassandra Clare’s best-selling fantasy/adventure series)? Well, the first trailer for the film launches in theaters this Friday with the Twilight Saga finale Breaking Dawn – Part 2, but you can check out the theatrical promo online now (along with the official poster).
Mortal Instruments revolves around Clary Fray (Lily Collins, Mirror Mirror), an ordinary teenager living in modern New York City, who discovers the truth about her lineage after her mother (Lena Headey, Game of Thrones) mysteriously vanishes: namely, that she is a descendant of the Shadowhunters, a legion of half-angel warriors who (in secret) protect humanity from the forces of darkness. Soon thereafter, young Clary begins her training as a demon-destroyer, with assistance from Hodge Starkweather (Jared Harris, Mad Men) – who is the elder caretaker at the Shadowhunter Institute - and the handsome-but-deadly warrior Jace Wayland (Jamie Cambell Bower, Camelot).
As you undoubtedly picked up from the synopsis and trailer, Mortal Instruments (in essence) uses the same fantasy/coming-of-age formula as the Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and The Dark Is Rising series - but with a female, rather than male, teen protagonist. In terms of visual sophistication, Mortal Instruments does seem to be a slight improvement on the first Percy Jackson and first couple of Harry Potter films – though, it’s far behind latter installments in the Potter series. Bear in mind, it’s impossible to judge fully right now, as production quite literally wrapped up a matter of days ago (hence, there are no CGI shots in the trailer).
Overall, the cast for Mortal Instruments is pretty solid, thanks to the involvement of people such as Headey and Harris; even the youngster Collins and Bower have done decent (if not exactly remarkable) work so far in their careers. Meanwhile, the script was penned by I. Marlene King (Pretty Little Liars) and Jessica Postigo (the upcoming 3D animated Tarzan), with directing duties handled by Harald Zwart (Agent Cody Banks, The Karate Kid); that’s not the most inspiring resume, for sure, so we’ll have to wait and see how the final film turns out.
If nothing else, Mortal Instruments fans should be pleased that the original version of this project ultimately fell apart – that is, one where the first three installments in Clare’s original series would’ve been compressed into a single film, with the helming duties given to Scott Charles Stewart (Legion, Priest). Zwart’s adaptation, by comparison, stands to be both better and more faithful.
Sandy Schaefer blogs at Screen Rant.