The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

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The Mortal Instruments City of BonesThe Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (based on the novel by Cassandra Clare)

Series: The Mortal Instruments #1 – Movie

Rating: 2 of 5 stars

When her mother disappears, Clary Fray learns that she descends from a line of warriors who protect our world from demons. She joins forces with others like her and heads into a dangerous alternate New York called Downworld.

I wanted to write up my review of Imagine Me & You first, but my feelings are so complicated on that one that I feel like I should let it simmer for just a bit longer (though, it’s already been a week) before I can effectively wrap up my thoughts about it. As for The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, my feelings on it aren’t all that complicated. I thought it was okay. Ish. Wow, so I guess they are a tad more complicated than I thought, but bear with me, and I’ll make this explanation as painless as I can.

I have these two best friends who also love to read. One, Alexis, is an avid e-reader, but she received a gift in the first four TMI books. Since she prefers e-reads, I volunteered to take them off her hands. While I was deployed in Turkey, I had the other best friend who loves to read, Bobbi, stay at my house, so when I returned home with four books, I offered her the chance to read them. You have to understand, neither of them exactly share my finely crafted yet mercurial tastes in literature — they’re mostly in it for the entertainment. Bobbi likes the House of Night series, for crying out loud. I was sure she would enjoy the Mortal Instruments series.

As luck would have it, she had rented the movie already, so we sat down last night and gave it a vigorous watch, myself having read the book a few years prior and herself never having done so.

She was impressed with the movie. I was not.

First and foremost, I have to ask, Why on earth were all the Shadowhunters British all of a sudden? It seemed so strange to me that that totally obvious identifier would mark them as outsiders. I realize they can’t technically be seen by Mundanes, so I guess it didn’t exactly matter, but it just felt like such a crazy liberty to take with the cast. And, most perplexing of all, was how Clary’s mother Jocelyn was British accented when Clary herself was nowhere near. She had no accent whatsoever, northern or otherwise. Typically, you adopt the accent of your surroundings, i.e. people in your household, the immediate area where you grow up. So… question marks. All across the board, question marks, re: the accents.

Then there’s the matter of details this movie portrayal seemed to have difficulties with… I heard Clary’s name maybe all of three times throughout the movie, and not very clearly, in addition to Jace (Bobbi didn’t even know what his name was until somewhere near the end), Luke, Isabelle and Jocelyn. Valentine and Hodge were iffy, too, but not so much. The favorites of the script were Magnus Bane, Alec and Simon. No clue why. I just think a story that places such emphasis on names — Jace’s W for Wayland ring actually being an M for Morgenstern ring, for example — needed to get across something as simple as those very things. Also, I’m not sure I ever heard the stele called a stele — or anything, for that matter — or a glamour called a glamour or Jace and Alec’s close relationship called parabatai. It’s the little things that makes this series worth anything at all, and the movie kinda brushed over it, possibly in passing, possibly not at all.

I will say this, however: Jace’s character was creepy. C-R-E-E-P-Y. From the get-go. And it made his actor’s face look weird. Like, I was 190% positive Jace was ugly for the first 3/4ths of the movie, until I got enough lighting on his face to understand it well enough and appreciate it.

See the difference? Took some gettin’ used to. I say that, though, to counterpoint it with this: I disliked his character’s portrayal, but I couldn’t help but love Alec’s, Magnus Bane’s, Simon’s, Jocelyn’s and Isabelle’s. I’m not sure what it was, exactly, that did it for me, but I can say this: Kevin Zegers (Alec) has been a favorite of mine since Dawn of the Dead; Jemima West transformed Isabelle into an absolutely beautiful bad ass; Godfrey Gao played Magnus Bane 10,000 times better (and cuter!) than every imagining I had of him from the books; Robert Sheehan did Simon justice (although I wish they had let him keep the slightly longer hair :P); and Lena Headey (Jocelyn) can seriously, at this point, do no wrong in my eyes.

Also. Also, also! My hugest gripe of the whole movie? Its continual overuse of music. There were very few scenes that didn’t have some kind of music goin’ on in the background and overpowering everything. The worst scene about this? Clary and Jace’s kissing scene. I tried so hard to keep from laughing at the obnoxious addition of some slimy R&B groove while they flirted around each other’s intentions for a while, but when they kissed, and it started raining (Jace later says, “Sorry I didn’t tell you about the sprinklers.” GAG ME!), and the music exploded, all at the same time, there was no stifling laughter. And awkwardness. It was just plain awkward, tacky, tasteless and cheesy. I seriously shuddered when it dragged on too long.

But, in the end, I think that all comes from me, the viewer with the critical eye, and me, the reader with movie conversion compulsion. As I said before, Bobbi thoroughly enjoyed the movie. It inspired her to pick up the copies of the first two books that I had gotten off of my friend Alexis. Therefore, I am forced to conclude that this movie couldn’t have been all that painful for the average viewer; it just was for me.

Such is my life. I’m used to it. Here’s pictures of the cast as their characters to end this review.


6 thoughts on “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

    Jessica said:
    21 December 2013 at 857

    I’ve only read the first book and half of the second, which I put down because I was so angry with this series, and after reading your review and so many other reviews, I don’t think I’m going to watch the movie. Similarly, a few of my friends, both who’ve read the books and haven’t, really liked the movie, but then again, most of them only ever not enjoy movies when they’re ‘boring.’ Thanks for sharing your review! :)

      Sierra responded:
      21 December 2013 at 920

      Thanks for the comment! I’ve read the first three and I plan to read the last three, but it’s only out of a morbid, masochistic curiosity that I do so. Cross your fingers for me!

        Jessica said:
        21 December 2013 at 942

        Good luck. I might eventually continue on with the series, but as for now, I’ve got other books I’m more excited to read and can’t see spending time on one that I’m not too interested in. With my friends encouraging, I will most likely read it, though. She’s persistent. :)

    […] The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones by Harald Zwart […]

    Hayley Knighten said:
    21 April 2014 at 1035

    Great review! I really liked this movie. In fact (and I will be killed for saying this, I’m sure) I liked it better than the book. Namely, because of the ending. The big plot twist of the ending was handled much better in the movie than in the book series. Jace feels that the information they are told is not true right away. That made more sense to me than how it was handled in the book. I also liked that they changed the whole Simon gets turned into a mouse thing. Casting was also great.

    As for the accents thing. I thought it was weird that they all sounded British too. I wasn’t as bothered by Clary not having an accent and her mother having one though.My mum’s English and my dad is American. I used to have a bit of an accent but my two younger brothers never have despite living in England and being around our mum. So, I’m giving Clary a pass though a bit more explanation in the film would have been nice. Wow, this is a ridiculously long comment must mean I really liked your review :)

      Sierra responded:
      21 April 2014 at 1143

      I think it may just be me – like I’m really picky about which movies I let earn my adoration – because my best friend Bobbi watched it with me and she loved the movie. She read the book afterward and still liked the movie better.

      I agree with the rat scene and the casting (for the most part), though.

      Glad you enjoyed. :]

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