Sunday, August 25, 2013
Cindy Prascik’s Reviews of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones / The World's End
Dearest Blog, this weekend's cinema offerings were a hodge-podge of dread and great anticipation, respectively, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and The World's End.
Spoiler level here will be mild, nothing you wouldn't know from the trailers.
First up was another in Hollywood's seemingly-endless stream of teen supernatural thrillers, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.
When her mother goes missing, a young girl discovers she has the blood of a Shadowhunter, that is a secret league of demon-hunting warriors.
Oh, Aidan Turner, the things I do for you. Not the things I would do for you--which are many, varied, and profane--but the things I do do for you, such as paying good money to watch this.
It is my understanding that the Mortal Instruments series was initially based on Harry Potter fanfiction, as the inexplicably popular 50 Shades of Gray series is based on Twilight fanfic. Note to Hollywood: please stop making movies based on fanfiction. You're embarrassing yourself.
City of Bones is derivative and shallow, but the bigger problem is the same one that has plagued recent seasons of True Blood and Once Upon a Time, that is, it introduces such a jumble of characters that often the story it really wants to tell is nowhere in sight. These secret Shadowhunters and their demon enemies, while far from original, could have been interesting enough, but by the time you mix in vampires and werewolves and time travel and a little daddy-angst to boot, what you're left with is a pretty big mess. Much of the dialogue is cringe-worthy, and parts of the film were so awful I threw my hands over my face in dismay. The flip side of that is, other than being far too long, the movie honestly isn't boring, and there are some bits that are really pretty good. Most stabs at humor hit the mark, although there were also several times my cinema was cracking up over stuff that clearly was not meant to be funny.
Lily Collins and her mighty eyebrows do a passable job in the lead. Her male counterparts, Jamie Campbell Bower and Robert Sheehan, are the movie's highlights, both quite engaging. As is the norm these days, all my favorites are relegated to "somebody's mom"- and "somebody's dad"-type roles. The fetching Mr. Turner has less to do than I'd have liked, but more to do than I expected, so we'll call it a draw. Playing the otherworldly is old hat to Turner by now, so of course he does a fine job of it. It's nice to see Lena Heady, Jared Harris, Kevin Durand, and CCH Pounder in smaller roles, but the real scene-stealer is Jonathan Rhys Myers in his usual over-the-top fashion.
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones runs 130 minutes and is rated PG13 for "intense sequences of fantasy violence and action, and some suggestive content."
The good news is it's not as bad as I expected. The bad news is it's still pretty bad.
Of a possible nine Weasleys, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones gets four and a half.
Next up was the genius Edgar Wright's latest offering, The World's End.
A group of once-inseparable friends reunites to complete a legendary pub crawl. When they return to their hometown, they discover things are not quite as they remember.
Dear Blog, it is well known that I worship at the altar of Wright/Pegg/Frost. It would be fair to say, along with The Hobbit, The World's End is my most-anticipated film of the year. I am pleased to report my enthusiasm has been well placed.
This story of five friends, who have drifted apart in the two decades since they left school, is sincere and likely feels familiar to most adults on my side of 40. Sympathetic performances from Nick Frost and Eddie Marsan are the dramatic highlights, while Simon Pegg gets to be the funnyman this time around. Favorites Paddy Considine and Martin Freeman are also terrific. On the sci-fi side, the idea isn't necessarily anything new, but it's well executed with some pretty cool effects. Both sides of the plot--the situation among these five friends, and the fantastic happenings in their old hometown--are interesting from start to finish; the story never misses a step. Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg deserve full marks for writing a film that goes in so many directions, yet never feels like it's lost its way. All the pieces fit perfectly.
The World's End clocks in at a perfectly-paced 109 minutes and is rated R for "pervasive language, including sexual references."
The World's End defies categorization. It's comedy, it's sci-fi, and it's genuinely moving drama, all at the same time.
It is also (*trumpet fanfare*) the first film of 2013 to earn a perfect nine of a possible nine Weasleys. And, damn, This Corrosion sounds fine in surround sound!!
Until next time...
Admit it, he could make you do worse things than sit through a lousy movie...