|The Frankfurt-Tipp rating:|
|Original title:||The Mortal Instruments – City of Bones|
|Genre:||Fantasy, Romance, Adventure|
|Production country:||Kanada/Deutschland 2013|
|Running time:||Approx. 130 min.|
|Rated:||From 12 years|
The enormous success of the film adaptations of Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" novels started a veritable run on other fantasy book series, which primarily enthuse a young female readership. But the adaptations of "Ruby Red", "Souls" or "Beautiful Creatures" fall far short of expectations at the box office and have proven that success is not as easy to calculate as the studio bosses would like it to be. With "Chronicles of the Underworld - City of Bones", the film adaptation of the first novel of Cassandra Clares underworld saga, another attempt to launch a successful film franchise for fantasy-enthusiastic teenage girls is now coming to the cinemas.
And the adventures around the young Clary Fray (Lily Collins) begin very promising: On her 16th birthday the girl is surprised that she always draws the same strange symbol. When she discovers the sign over the door of a club, she spontaneously decides that she wants to celebrate her birthday with her best buddy Simon (Robert Sheehan). But instead of an exuberant party, Clary expects the bare horror in the club, as she has to watch a mysterious man (Jamie Campbell Bower) murder a woman. Worse still, she seems to be the only one who can see the man. When he introduces himself to her as shadow hunter Jace, who fights demons, vampires and other creatures in a parallel world of New York, Clary's life is completely thrown out of joint. Because she learns that she can only see Jace because shadow-hunter blood also flows in her veins. When her mother disappears and the brutal lackeys of the dark Valentine Morning Star (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) hunt Clary, the girl joins the small hunting party around Jace. She has no idea what key role she will play in the fight against the evil forces of the underworld…
Director Harald Zwart, who celebrated a great success with the remake of "Karate Kid", manages quite well to get the story going. With a successful mixture of fast-paced action, romance, fantasy and a little bit of humour, he immerses the viewer in a parallel world in which werewolves, vampires, witches and demons cavort in the streets of New York. Only the obligatory zombies are missing - but they are, as we learn from shadow hunter Isabelle (Jemima West), in contrast to the other creatures pure fiction. In the first hour, "Chronicles of the Underworld - City of Bones" is a lot of fun, as long as you manage to overlook some of the clichés and pompous dialogues. Admittedly, the three-way constellation Clary - Jace - Simon is reminiscent of Bella - Edward - Jacob and you can literally see the shirts printed with "Team Jace" or "Team Simon" in front of you, when the young protagonists are having a big time with each other. And even though the whole thing culminates in a much too kitschy sequence even for hopeless romantics, this dramaturgical element of the film works quite well. After all, the movie doesn't focus on romance, but on an essential fight good against evil, which has been realized with neat effects and a worth seeing set.
Also the actors do surprisingly well in view of the rather weak script. Especially supporting actors like Aidan Turner ("The Hobbit") or Godfrey Gao deliver convincing performances. They are also largely responsible for the fact that the fantasy romance has a pleasantly entertaining start. However, in the second half of the game he is slowed down by the fact that Jonathan Rhys Meyers doesn't have the necessary creepy charisma to make him a really credible threat to the heroes. Moreover, Zwart does not succeed in building on the good foundation he created in the first few minutes and to lend the parallel world the magic and magic that made the world of the magicians of "Harry Potter" enchanting in the truest sense of the word. Zwart's staging only scratches the surface of the possible, which is why the viewer is hardly drawn into this fantasy cosmos. The ideas are there, but the realization is simply too common and too unimaginative to make something very special out of "Chronicles of the Underworld - City of Bones".
Nevertheless: the entertainment value is there and the film has enough points on the bottom line to at least satisfy its target audience. Even if fans of the original book will be bothered by some of the changes made for the filming, despite 130 minutes of really boring adventures this never offers exactly the ingredients you can expect from a story like this. "Chronicles of the Underworld - City of Bones" might not have become a really good movie because of its obvious weaknesses. But it's much better than many other fantasy youth book adaptations of the last years and that's why in the end it's still enough for a decent one: Worth seeing!
An article by Frankfurt-Tipp