Friday, September 6, 2013

Movie Review: The Mortal Instruments - City of Bones

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is a movie that has been adapted from the New York Times Bestseller City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. It is a young adult novel/movie that is set in a world of Shadowhunters, demon hunters that have been blessed by the blood of the angel Raziel. This grants them the ability to use runic symbols to boost their power and used angelic blades to slay their demonic foes.

In this first installment we meet Clary Fray (Lily Collins), our heroine. She is a teenage girl who lives a normal life with her mother (Lena Heady) in their small New York apartment. She is living the normal life until she
ends up in the Pandemonium Club on her birthday. There is where she sees a boy (Jamie Campbell Bower), about her age, murder one of the other club goers. Clary's world is unraveling as she realizes she is only one who can see him and after a confrontation she finds that club-goer wasn't even human. This is the key point where life changes for Clary and she realizes she is a Shadowhunter and she is cast into a dangerous world and an even more deadly plot.

The book captures a lot of what this movie failed to provide ultimately living up to the adage that the book is always better than the movie; that doesn't give slight to this still enjoyable movie. The star of this movie was simply Lily Collins. She was a magnificent cast as Clary and captured a lot of the confused, lost, and in love emotions that wash over Clary as she starts out on this journey. Some people don't like Clary as a character but I find that in the City of Bones, she is well rounded and realistic and Collins pulls through a lot of that in her work.

The rest of the casting and characterization of this movie was dismal at times. I had a explicitly difficult time while watching Jamie Campbell Bower portray Jace. There were times when I thought he was
inappropriately clothed for action in his want-to-be skin tight leather that had strange baggy parts or his greasy mop of hair being put off as sex appeal. This was all very distracting to someone I find has good acting skills but lacks the attractive qualities of Jace Wayland.

But that wasn't the only thing that fell flat in the way of people. This movie completely demolished one of the most amazing characters in the entire world Clare has created: Magnus Bane. Godfrey Gao was an attractive choice for our favorite warlock but he didn't bring any depth to this character that exists in every book. Instead his voice was very shallow and his attitude albeit vain and disconnected wasn't Magnus Bane. Magnus has an intriguing story that makes you want to know about him and that didn't come from Gao.

Did I also mention that Kevin Zegers was a little weird and old for the role of Alec? The role of Alec in this movie (unlike the book) was emphasized to be a little more homoerotic than that of a parabatai.

Oh, you don't know what parabatai is? The movie failed at explaining that the bond between Jace and Alec was deeper than that of blood, brother or friend. They underwent a bonding ritual of Shadowhunters that means they see their own life as the life of the other, nothing is more deep and sacred than this bond. But you wouldn't know that from watching this movie; you also wouldn't know much about the world at all really.

The book had a way of explaining this world to Clary and introducing her to things like Serpah blades, steles for runes, downworlders, etc. that the movie did not. The movie just thrust Clary into a world and she seemed to know everything like she had been a part of it for years which left people who hadn't read the book without explanation and with a lot of confusion. You would also be inclined to think that Shadowhunters are a bunch of tattooed bad asses running around invisible but that isn't the case either.

Overall, I find that I am extremely critical of the things this movie failed to provide in ways of information or satisfaction but that doesn't mean I failed to enjoy it. Quite the opposite, I still really enjoyed the film within its own merits. I went in to, yet another, book to movie adaptation with very low expectations. I knew this was a book they could screw up but while they did not hit the nail on the head, they still managed an entertaining movie and a good film.

*Image credits to Shadowiki, TMI Fandom, & TMI Source


  1. The movie had too much action and not enough substance. The plot was thin and characters were not deep. Jace also needs to wash his hair and put on some clean clothes, but Jamie is a knock out and makes me wish I were 30 years younger!!!

  2. Actually Bowers is almost perfect for the part. I've only recently watched the movie and for those who know the real character of Jace Wayland he is supposed to be good looking but still have a hardness to him. Bowers definitely has the gorgeous piercing eyes and attitude of Jace too. Lily Collins is also a better vision of Clary that I could have ever pictured. I do agree though that although the action scenes were really great to watch they shouldn't have tried to sell the whole movie by just making them good. There's so much more depth and explanation to the story that they should have incorporated.