Don't be fooled by the movie's solid first half; the second half completely derails into unintentional hilarity. Made for silly teenagers and geeks who enjoy 'Star Wars,' 'Twilight' and 'Harry Potter' fan fiction.

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of fantasy violence and action, and some suggestive content.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

There have now been a few attempts to replace the (finally) completed Twilight Saga with new popular young adult fiction novels – all of which have failed miserably. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is the latest genre series to give it shot and equally crashes and burns.

Lily Collins and her eyebrows are back. Instead of playing a dreadful Snow White (Mirror Mirror), she’s playing a disobedient teen whose mind is trying to unleash long-forgotten secrets. When a part of the shroud is lifted, she begins untangling the mysteries of her past that have been covered up by spells and – for lack of a better word – magic. Like a young Clark Kent, she inexplicably begins accessing powers that she never knew she had – which couldn’t have come at a better time because her mother (Lena Headey) was just kidnapped by demons.

Even after watching the bloated movie (it clocks in at an eternal 130 minutes), I have no clue exactly what exactly Eyebrows Magee’s character is. The closest thing I can come up with is that she’s a mortal angel. She’s able to see beings that normal humans – which are deemed “mundanes,” or as Harry Potter called them, “Muggles” – cannot see. She can use a magic wand to tattoo runes on her body that give her specific powers. She has several other abilities that I’ll refrain from spoiling because the climax hinges on them.

To help her through this pubescent transition, she makes friends with a gangly pale British kid that’s invisible to mundanes (Jamie Campbell Bower, who is actually in a few Twilight movies). Of course, there’s a love triangle between those two and a mundane tag-along (Robert Sheehan) – but unlike Twilight, only a few moments of the movie focus on their teenage angst.

City of Bones kicks off in a very strong way. We immediately dive into the story and action. Truthfully, the first two-thirds of the movie are quite entertaining. Had it continued performing on this level, I’d have given the movie a four-star rating – but as we near the climax and the dots are connected, everything – and I mean everything – falls apart. Up to this point, the story functioned on its own, but with the flip of a switch, it turns into a series of scenes that re-enact famous moments from very familiar movies. City of Bones even steals dialog from other movies, including the most quoted movie line of all time. The direction that it takes is laughably bad. It feels as if the first two thirds of the movie were set-up for a $60 million practical joke. As I watched it crumble beneath itself, I kept waiting for the lights to turn up and for Ashton Kutcher to come out and explain that I was being Punk’d.

Even if you’re still curious about The Mortal Instruments, I firmly recommend skipping it. After all, it’s highly probable that we will never see another one of the books adapted for the big screen. If it’s not going anywhere, why start watching it in the first place. Golden Compass, anyone?

Photo credit: Screen Gems

1 1/2 out of 5

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