“The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones”: The latest entrant in the Twilight sweepstakes, an adaptation of the first novel in Cassandra Clare’s young adult urban fantasy series about a teenager named Clary (Lily Collins) who stumbles into the secret world of the Shadowhunters, an elite group of warriors that have been infused with angelic blood to put down the hordes of demons that stalk the oblivious human world. If this franchise joins “Beautiful Creatures,” “Beastly,” “I Am Number Four,” and “Red Riding Hood” in almost but not quite scape pile, I think it’s time to admit that the whole supernatural teen melodrama moment has had its day.
“City of Bones” has an Edward & Bella style star-crossed romance at its center, a hidden magical world that a relatively blank protagonist has to navigate her way through, a supporting cast full of quality character actors (including Lena Headey, Kevin Durand, C.C.H. Pounder and Jared Harris) to give the whole enterprise some dramatic weight, a dedicated genre hack (Harald Zwart) in the director’s chair to make sure thing don’t accidently get to interesting and a soundtrack full of zeitgeist-y pop music that can carry the immersive emotional experience of watching the film out of the theaters and onto gapping maw of Tumblr-based fandom.
This film is “Triumph of the Will” for the Hot Topic set and if crashes against the rocks of juvenile indifference, it’ll be time to put away the dark sweaters and heavy eye makeup and try on something new. Since angst gothic inauthenticity isn’t working anymore, maybe some mildly weathered naturalism will do the trick? Also Jamie Campbell Bower, Robert Sheehan and Jonathan Rhys Meyers.
Fun fact: “The Mortal Instruments” series contains six volumes and has two sequel series so if “City of Bones” hits, it could span a decade long film franchise.
“The World’s End”: Edgar Wright’s (“Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World”) latest, the conclusion to his Cornetto Trilogy wherein a group of old friends is called together by their most burnout member (Simon Pegg) to complete the epic bar crawl they couldn’t finish as teenagers. But the supposedly festive evening takes a sinister turn when the guys realize that something is very wrong with their hometown. Wright is one of the best visual filmmakers working in the mainstream and while I don’t think his take on “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” will be particularly interesting, watching any of his cinematic whirligigs snap into action is more fun than watching anything in the of Zack Snyder or Marc Foster oeuvre. This is the premium grade popcorn. Also starring Nick Frost, Martin Freeman and Paddy Considine.
Fun fact: Wright and Pegg decided on the film’s running time before writing it’s film’s screenplay.
“You’re Next”: Indie horror director Adam Wingard first attempt at the mainstream brass ring with this slasherish film about an anniversary party that is besieged by a group of masked killers. This film seems to be more aesthetically interesting than entertaining because mumblecore veteran Wingard favors a handheld visual style and is applying that technique to a “Scream” like plot while also utilizing “The Strangers” aping iconography. That kind of genre mélange worked well for Nicholas Refn’s Mann/Scorsese love letter “Drive” but a quasi-deconstructionist horror film following so close on the heels of “The Cabin in the Woods” seems a bit trite. Still, watching a cast full of indie filmmakers get literally ripped to shreds by a Lionsgate owned monster has some novelty. Also starring Joe Swanberg, Amy Seimetz and Ti West.
Fun fact: This might be the best marketing stunt of the year.
Mario McKellop has written about film on Examiner for the last three years and can be reached directly at email@example.com.