Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Ghoul Versus The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones (Part 2)

Click here for Part 1!

Jace also shows Clary a portal they use to teleport around. Whoa, I was just joking about teleporters earlier. Clary wants to enter it to find her mother, but he warns her it takes a lifetime of training to learn how to use it without ending up in Limbo. Clary will take this advice to heart and not try to use the portal until she's spent years practicing. Wink wink.  He now wants to celebrate Clary's birthday, taking her to an arboretum in one of the upper turrets of the castle. In a scene ripped straight out of every Disney movie, they have a touching moment set to Demi Lovato's ultra cheesy “Heart By Heart”.

They kiss as it starts RAINING. OH MY GOD. I hope they go to Paris next so they can share a milkshake at a cafe and then go rolling around in a grassy field. The rain was actually just sprinklers, but my point remains.  They head back to Clary's room, where they kiss outside her door. However all the fun is ruined when Simon opens the door. Jace is mad because he thinks Clary and Simon are sleeping together, and Simon is mad because she was kissing Jace. Clary tells Simon they were jut kissing, and this gets Jace even madder. We get this absolute gem from him:

“How swiftly you dismiss our love.”

What. The. Bloody. Hell. Our love? OUR LOVE?!?  You've known this girl for less than a day and you know next to nothing about her! I never thought we'd come across a bigger psycho than Edward Cullen, but here we are. I'm starting to wonder if this is really City of Bones or if someone sold me a fan made bootleg as a prank.  Jace storms off like the mature adult he is, taunting Clary by saying the kiss wasn't special for him either and that she's a big meanie dumbhead. But wait, the absolute idiocy isn't done yet! Simon now goes off on Clary, saying “I'M the one who's always been there for you, not him! I'm in love with you!”

Yyyyyyyyyyyyikes. Yikes yikes yikes yikes yikes. This movie has become beautiful now, even in this day and age of lowered expectations it is rare to find a movie THIS bad. This is like someone went through a “Worst Stories Ever Told” cliché list and took extensive notes to create this. They really just did the “I put up with you so I deserve you like you're a prize” bit usually reserved for men from the 1950s.

I'm speechless. Hold on, we're STILL not done here. We cut to Jace in his bedroom where he's CUTTING HIMSELF.  Actually he's actually carving a new rune into his arm with his Sonic Screwdriver, but that's still CUTTING HIMSELF. If he doesn't go to Hot Topic in the next scene to buy some black hair dye, I'm washing my hands of this whole movie.  Clary, as sick of the two losers in her life as much as I am, goes to a library to read about runes. She somehow manages to make her teacup turn into a picture and then back again. Hodge, watching her, says this was a talent only her mother had.

A huge light bulb goes over Clary's head and she rounds everyone up to return to her apartment. Clary and Jace go to see CCH Pounder while Isabelle and Alec go upstairs for no good reason. No, I'm wrong about that. They go upstairs to dump some metal shavings on the ground that dance around on the floor in a scene with zero explanation.  We can immediately tell something is wrong with Pounder as she's all smiles whereas before she was very stoic. Jace, displaying a completely out of character ounce of intelligence, picks up on this almost immediately whereas Clary doesn't. Even though Clary has known Pounder her entire life and Simon has known her maybe five minutes, but she's not the brightest rune on the board.

Jace confirms this by playing Bach on the piano while Clary looks through Pounder's tarot cards. She takes the Ace of Cups card and pulls the Mortal Cup out of it. Bach's music causes Pounder to turn into a demon and she grabs the Cup, a fight breaking out.  Alec getting gravely injured before Jace can kill Pounder, while Clary puts the Cup back in the card for safekeeping.  They return to the Institute to tend to Alec, while Clary goes to give Hodge the Cup. EVIL MUSIC starts playing as Hodge opens the portal and Valentine steps out. Was he just standing there for years waiting for the portal to open so he could walk through it? I mean, Hodge doesn't contact him beforehand or anything.

So an hour and a half into our movie, we finally get to meet the villain. He is played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers, who is a very good actor. Buuuuuuut not in this movie. I wish I could say that this is one of those movies where the actor know it's Godawful but wants the nice payday so hams it up as much as possible, something Jeremy Irons perfected to an ART FORM in Dungeons and Dragons.

But it isn't. Meyers is just as bored and uncaring as everyone else. Alright, so what's going on here? Valentine cuts his hand open and drips blood into the Cup, wanting Clary to drink it. Wwwwwhy? She's already a Shadowhunter, isn't she? Does the Cup do something else if you're already a Shadowhunter and drink from it?  Clary refuses, so Valentine tries to win her allegiance by revealing that he's her FATHER. If Cassandra Clare doesn't turn out to be a pseudonym for Tara Gilesbie, I'll be severely disappointed.  I'd brag about calling that, but predicting things in this movie is about as hard as shooting proverbial fish in the equally proverbial barrel.

Clary grabs the Cup and puts in back in the card, running into the portal to escape. This somehow alerts everyone in the infirmary that the portal has been used. Instead of Limbo she finds herself in front of Luke's place, where a werewolf saves her from a little girl possessed by a demon. The werewolf reveals itself to be Luke... which probably would have meant something if we didn't already know he was a werewolf.  This movie sucks at shocking revelations. And everything else.

Back at the Institute the writer decides this story isn't already convoluted enough, so we get a scene where Hodge asks Valentine to lift the curse so he can leave the building. Valentine reveals there is no curse and that it's all in is head. Huh? Did the Clave get bored and decide to punk Hodge by telling him there was a spell? Why would they want him to stay inside the Institute for years?

Valentine begins doing the demon summoning ritual we saw him doing in Hodge's flashback way back when, saying everyone from the Clave to the Shadowhunters are looking for him and that he needs all the help he can get.  Hodge tells him Clary will come back because of her feelings for Jace, advising Valentine to lie and tell them both they're his children, which will break their hearts and make them follow him. I'm not quite sure I follow the logic of this reasoning. Wait, did I just associate logic with this story?

Hodge, despite getting no help from Valentine and having no reason to work with him any further, continues to help him anyways. He goes to a room right below the top of the Institute, where he pulls a lever to open up the roof. This sends a beam of light from Valentine's summoning ritual to go shooting out into the night sky, which in turn draws demons into the Institute. Valentine orders them to lock down the building and kill any enemies.

In the infirmary, Bane arrives to help heal Alec. He gives Isabelle (and simon) a list of ingredients to get for a healing potion or whatever. Jace goes to check on Hodge and Clary, finding only Valentine. Valentine calls him Jonathan, which we learn is his true name.  ANOTHER cut takes us back to Clary and Luke, where she asks if it's true Valentine is her father, Luke confirming it is so. He says Valentine was so afraid of the Clave after losing the Cup that he faked his death in a house fire. In the remains of the house they found skeletons of whom they thought was Valentine and his son, Clary's brother. Clary is stunned by this, Luke saying his name was Jonathan Christopher.

Jace says Valentine is lying. Valentine says Clary isn't the only one with a block in her mind, using his powers to “lift” Jace's block to show him the “truth” about him really being his father.  Isabelle (and simon) go to the basement to get the ingredients, where they just happen to run into Cersei's floating body. Simon calls Clary to let her know. I... don't follow this either. Last we saw of Cersei before she drank the potion she was in custody of the Men in Black. How in the hell did she wind up in the Institute?

Clary and Luke take off for the Institute, Luke calling in a bunch of his werewolf buddies. Clary takes the time to make another lame joke, and I realize I might hate her more than Bella Swan as a heroine. Damn you City of Bones! The worst part of this is the smug look on Clary's face, like she just said the funniest thing in the history of humour.  This is taking FOREVER. Eventually Isabelle (and simon) meet up with Clary and Luke as the demons attack. Clary grabs Isabelle's Sonic Screwdriver and carves a rune into her hand, which freezes all the demons. Isabelle remarks she's never seen that rune before and that it isn't in any of the books. How did- screw it.

They leave, Luke and his friends staying behind to finish off the demons. Clary splits off when she sees Valentine and her mother, Isabelle (and simon) going to close the roof. Jace stops Clary from killing Valentine, asking her to listen to what he has to say.  Valentine tells Clary his lie, Clary saying Luke told her his brother died in a fire. Valentine counters with the child's skeleton was something he planted and that “Jace” is short for Jonathan Christopher, which causes Clary to break down and cry in Valentine's arms.

But she still won't give him the Cup, so he gets rough with her. This causes Jace to attack him and a fight scene breaks out. It's as every bit as stupid and pointless as you'd expect by now. Just hang in there folks, we're almost at the finish line.  Isabelle (and simon) can't close the roof as the lever isn't working, but Hodge arrives to help them. One of the Men in Black attacks, Hodge killing him and finally closing he hole. I think he sacrifices himself to allow Isabelle (and simon) to escape from the demons in the room but it's never made clear or mentioned again, so... yeah.

Valentine is about to kill Jace when Clary stops him by threatening to throw the Cup into the portal. He backs down so she gives him the Cup, and kicks him into the portal 300-style. THIS! IS! STUPID!  Still not done. Valentine emerges from the portal and starts dragging Clary in. Jace gives her his Sonic Screwdriver, and she thrusts it into the portal which makes it freeze, and then explode because... why wouldn't it?

When Clary and Jace come too, the room is now covered in snow. She also reveals she still has the Cup, the one she gave Valentine was a fake she got from... somewhere. Much earlier when Isabelle was giving Simon the tour, we were shown a fake Cup on display but there is NO WAY Isabelle could have known about that unless there's a scene we never get to see of her getting a tour too. Not to mention how she could have ran there and back so fast.

We cut to a hospital where Cersei now rests. The doctors say they're going to just have to wait out her coma because she has some AWESOME insurance. That angelic benefits package has no equal.  Clary returns to her wrecked apartment, burning a rune into her arm that lets her fix up the apartment back to pristine condition. Wow, they really do have runes for everything. I wish the author had a “Write Cohesive Story” rune.

Jace arrives a bit later, wanting Clary to come back with him to the Institute. He says he doesn't believe what Valentine said about them being brother and sister, following that up with a “wink wink nudge nudge hint hint know what I mean?” They get on his motorcycle and take off and THE MOVIE IS OVER! THANK YOU KIND AND BENEVOLENT DEITY!

Cue the credits.

Movies like this really depress me. People got paid millions of dollars to make this, from writing to directing to producing to acting. And this is the result? All that money and time could have been put to such better ends, but no... let's just throw it in this movie shaped hole and laugh all the way to the bank.  The author of the books, Cassandra Clare, got her start writing Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings fanfiction. She had nothing to do with the movie's screenplay, but I imagine the movie used most of the elements from her book, because so much of this feels like fanfiction.

Heavily borrowing elements from pre-existing stories with no attempt to put an original spin on them, gay characters' sexuality needlessly pointed out in lieu of any kind of character development, random plots thrown in that go nowhere, and my favourite: the author avatar. A lot of fanfiction involves an uber cool and perfect character that is the author inserting him or herself into the story, and Clary being a ringer for Clare surely can't be a coincidence.

This movie is TERRIBLE, and the worst kind as it goes from entertainingly bad to FULL ON bad. You laugh a lot in disbelief over how bad it is and that someone actually made it, then it sinks in that someone ACTUALLY MADE THIS. It is way too long and dull, it has no style whatsoever and every action scene is beyond generic. Most of the story doesn't even attempt to make sense and the stuff that does is SO predictable because you've seen it hundreds of times already.

The director's failure just doesn't stop there, his lack of trying extends to the actors as well. Admittedly they have to deliver dialogue that would make Twilight actors cringe, but EVERY reading is so dead and monotone. I am sick and tired of the “being detached and aloof while wearing black makes your characters cool” we've been seeing ever since the Matrix perfected it. It doesn't work anymore, especially when you don't have mind blowing action and special effects to counteract it.

For a movie that is supposed to introduce us a wondrous world of magic and supernatural creatures, this looked dreadful. CGI that would have looked dated ten years ago on top of really cheap looking sets you kept expecting to fall apart at any second.  And yet somehow, despite all this and bombing in the theaters, a sequel was greenlit. To add salt to that would, the same director and the same writer are helming the production. I hate Hollywood.

Avoid at all costs no matter who you are, because this one is PAINFUL. Let's see how it scored on the Twilight Meter:

Step One. Start off with a completely bland boring uninteresting dark haired young woman who starts off as nothing special. She has to be a loner who only has one interest/hobby in her life.

Since Simon is the biggest loser in any movie I've reviewed to date, I'm not counting him as a friend so this description definitely sums up Clary to perfection. +1 point for a score of 1/7.

Step Two. She will have a single male best friend that she only thinks of “as a friend or like a brother”. He, of course, pines for her daily to love him like he secretly loves her.

You fail at life, Simon. +1 point for a score of 2/7.

Step Three. Have her suddenly become the most important person in the world through a combination of the supernatural, a hidden talent she didn't know she had, or an indomitable will.

Check AND check! +1 point for a score of 3/7.

Step Four. Make sure she only has one parent, usually a mother but that's flexible. The other parent is gone either through divorce, death, or mysteriously vanishing when she was young.

I swear I had already written the Twilight Meter before I reviewed this movie. HONEST. +1 point for a score of 4/7.

Step Five. Throw her into a Love Triangle with two men, one of whom is the aforementioned best friend she's known her entire life and the other an enigmatic stranger she instantly prefers. Bonus if the stranger is introduced saving her life.

We are batting 1,000 right now! +1 point for a score of 5/7.

Step Six. Add a villain. The villain isn't important at all so we don't need any kind of development for him. In fact, the more faceless and generic he is the better because that's just taking time away from the Love Triangle.

I'm counting this because while we did get some background information on Valentine, none of it really made any sense and didn't add anything to his “character”. +1 point for a score of 6/7.

Step Seven. Make sure whatever world changing events going on in the story are minimized so they can take a backseat to the Love Triangle.

DAMN! SO CLOSE to a perfect game here. The Love Triangle died out pretty quickly as Clary never once even considered Simon, because what woman would? No points awarded for a final score of 6/7.

0: Congratulations! Your fictional world is so original and creative it's almost guaranteed it'll get ignored by mainstream audiences!

1 – 2: A very nice breath of fresh air, it was great to see a unique spin on well worn material.

3 – 4: I feel like I've seen this a million times already, and will see it a million more.

5 – 6: Seriously, why even bother making this when you should have just been working on new features for Twilight: The Tenth Anniversary Blu-Ray?

7: You should be expecting a call from Stephenie Meyer's lawyers ANY minute now.