I read somewhere that in the States, it is no longer embarrassing for a thirtysomething guy or girl to be seen in public reading a young-adult [YA] book. I’m sure fans here cannot relate to that because adult YA book fans here have never been embarrassed about being seen in public reading those books. I think here there are more adult fans of ‘Twilight’ that the book’s intended audience. That says a lot about the emotional maturity [and intellectual sophistication] of Pinoy readers.
Now, that’s a little embarrassing.
I’m not saying that I don’t read YA books at my age. Sure I have. In the last 10 years I’ve read ‘The Book Thief’ by Marcus Zusak, Philip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy, and some of the Lemony Snicket books. All of these books were very entertaining and well-written. When selecting YA books to read, I try to wean the well-written ones from the crappy ones. I tend to stay way from books whose covers look like chaste romance novels. I admit: I judge books by their covers.
‘The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones’ is one such book. The cover above will surely drive me away. The endorsement from ‘Twilight’ author Stephenie Meyer ensures my keeping a distance from it.
Yesterday however, I found myself buying a ticket to see the movie adaptation of this book. Never mind the 12% rating it got from Rotten Tomatoes. The trailer, which I saw months ago, was visually interesting to me. I love dark fantasy films so I was hoping this was one of them, in spite of its YA roots. Towards the end of the Harry Potter movie series, the fantasy gradually became darker, which made the movies entertaining for me. This was my hope. I didn’t read the Harry Potter books but I enjoyed watching most the movies based on them.
As a non-reader of the book, I didn’t feel alienated to the story. It wasn’t difficult to follow, actually. In fact, you cannot accuse the film of originality among epic fantasy stories involving a seemingly ordinary boy [in this case, a girl] who’s destined for something bigger. Sure, its angels versus demons mythology can be traced to other works of horror [vampires, werewolves but no zombies], fantasy [witches and warlocks], and even science fiction [hello, Star Wars] but its take on the familiar is strangely refreshing.
I like the fact that the movie started in the middle of the action, so to speak, but the middle act was bogged down by the emphasis on the love triangle between the lead Clary and the two boys Jace and Simon. By emphasis I meant the long glances, the accidental touching of skins, you know what I mean. It would’ve been okay if there was an iota of chemistry between Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower but unfortunately there was none.
Probably the most remarkable thing about this movie is the supporting cast: it had the delightful Lena Headey [Game of Thrones], the beautiful Jonathan Rhys Meyers [The Tudors], the talented CCH Pounder [Millennium], and the wonderful Jared Harris [Mad Men].
The young leads, echoing perhaps the book, are astoundingly beautiful. Aside from Collins and Campbell Bower, there are Kevin Zegers [Transamerica], Jemima West, and Robert Sheehan. But these two caught my eye:
Godfrey Gao, who I saw last as a Louis Vuitton model.
and, Aidan Turner, who I first saw in ‘Being Human’. His last screen outing was as Kili, one of the hobbits in ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’.
Predictable as the plot may seem on many occasions, there was a lot of effective action set-pieces and the conclusion was satisfactory, if not a great set-up for the sequel. There are 5 books in the series, after all, with the 6th [and final] book coming out next year.
My verdict? Watch it. Don’t expect too much. Just enjoy the show.