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Non-Review Review: The Mortal Instruments – City of Bones

The Mortal Instruments: The City of Bones is just about wry enough and smart enough to launch itself snugly into the gap in the “young adult” movie market left by the end of franchises like Twilight or Harry Potter. This franchise-launcher, based on Cassandra Clare’s 2007 novel, is at its best when it’s self-aware, with young starlet Lilly Collins reacting with quiet bemusement to the surreal urban fantasy or Irish supporting actor Robert Sheehan picking holes in the plot.

It’s over-the-top and deliciously campy, but indulgently so. Refusing to merely bask in the clichés of urban fantasy, The Mortal Instruments practically revels in them. Subtext becomes supra-text, twists are shrewdly signposted in a way welcoming to genre aficionados and there’s an endearing sense of pulp to the whole thing. The movie only really suffers when it tries to take things entirely seriously, slowing down for an almost interminable second act and casting the so-wooden-he-should-probably-be-varnished Jamie Campbell Bower as the obligatory “mysterious hunky teenager.”

A cut above?

A cut above?

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