mortal instYawn. Another week, another swoony supernatural teen romance based on a series of young adult novels I’ve never heard of.

This week, it’s “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones,” yet another in a long line of tedious melodramas in which a young girl (in this case, Lily Collins as Clary) gets more than she bargained for when she falls in love with an otherworldly dude, “shadowhunter” Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower), who then proceeds to lure her into a world populated by evil vampires, werewolves, demons and more people in leather than a rodeo.

Naturally, she is also given an alternate beau, one more suited to her needs because he is, alas, still human. His name is Simon (Robert Sheehan), but it might as well be Jacob because all this dopey love triangle does is remind us of the one from “Twilight,” which, hate to say, was oceans more entertaining than anything in “City of Bones.”

The problem may be the plotting. If you’re not already a fan of the novels, you may have trouble making heads or tails of the mythology. “City of Bones” is a great, big, complicated affair involving mysterious markings, invisible castles, a whole lot of fancy weaponry and a quest to find a mythical cup. The actors, God help them, do what they can to make all of this material appear to make sense, even if their efforts are for naught because “City of Bones” is so haphazardly slapped together that it’s hard to imagine anyone getting a bead on the story.

“City of Bones” seems to be setting up future adventures for Clary, Simon and Jace, but this one is so murky and cluttered that I can’t imagine there’ll be much demand for it. The one — and only — saving grace is that the movie has a sense of humor about itself, something that was not always evident in the “Twilight” movies. Still, a supernatural romance with its funny bone in check does not a movie make. We need characters, a believable romance, a focused story and swell special effects — four things “City of Bones” has virtually none of.

★ out of ★★★★

Rated PG-13. 130 minutes. 2013.

Director: Harald Zwart. Starring: Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower.

Read all of Jesse Hoheisel’s reviews at


Categories: Jesse Hoheisel, Reviews

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