27 August 2013

Movie Review: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones by Harald Zwart


Title: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
Director(s): Harald Zwart
Genre(s): Fantasy, Paranormal
Release Date (USA): August 21, 2013
Rating: PG-13

"Everything you've heard... about monsters, about nightmares, legends whispered around campfires. All the stories are true." -Hodge Starkweather
 Caution: Read at your own risk! Possible spoilers for the book/movie ahead.

So if you haven't heard, there's been some buzz about The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones... and most of it's not good. As is usually the case with popular YA series-gone-to-film, I'm guessing much of this comes from the series' die-hard fan base. Since I was less than impressed with the book (my review), I'm going to try and take a more objective look at the movie. I walked in to The Mortal Instruments with the hope that it would blow the book out of the water. I mean, c'mon, did you see that trailer?! It looked SO good! And while I did enjoy the film overall, it didn't wow me as much as I thought it would. 

There were definitely deviations from the book, as can be expected, but for the most part, I liked what they did with it. Sure, they cut out a lot of background history on the Shadowhunters and their world, but can you really blame them there? It's a movie and most moviegoers want to see some action. So yeah, they skipped a bunch of mythology to get to all the kick-ass parts and I'm cool with that. It's an easy movie to follow for those who aren't so familiar with the series, but I can see where it would be a more difficult adjustment for loyal fans of the books. For me, the changes didn't really matter so much because they worked. I think the biggest change was where the end battle took place and I do question how they'll make that fit in future movies (if there are any).

What I did appreciate were the subtle nuances to things in the book that were otherwise omitted. Where I think it lacked was in the fact that it was missing much of the mysterious darkness that the book had. It felt too rushed and we weren't able to get that real, gritty NYC feeling. I also really wanted more from that whole vampire/werewolf fight scene. It was one of my favourite parts of the book. I was also a bummed about how they handled that WTF revelation at the end --- it felt like they sugar-coated it so that it lost a lot of its WTF-ness. Not cool because that's what really made the book stand out.

This still makes me cringe...
As far as the casting goes, I thought most of the main characters (Clary, Simon, Jace, Hodge & Clary's mum) were spot on. First off, I LOOOOOVED Simon. He was a total natural --- relatable and cute and dorky and friendly. Lilly Collins was beautiful and brought a lot of depth to Clary. Jace didn't look quite like I pictured but he played the serious yet snarky role quite well. Jamie Campbell Bower looks like more of a heroine-chic version of the Jace that's in my head. It's nice to finally see Lena Headey not be a total bitch and Jared Harris always keeps it classy. I thought Magnus looked the part but the acting was SO forced. It was just bad. I'm a give or take on Valentine and Luke. They weren't what I imagined but they were do-able (I mean literally and figuratively). RAWR! 

The biggest casting issue I had was with Alec and Isabelle. For the two most beautiful characters (in the book), I thought Clary and Simon outshined them both. And maybe I'm just being picky here, but aren't they supposed to look 17 not 30? Nuff' said.

Overall, I'd say the movie was pleasing. The action was terrific, the romance believable (probably because Collins and Bowen dated in real life) and most of the casting was great, but I do think they can do one better if there's a sequel. The movie had a few cheesy moments (greenhouse sappy scene, I'm looking at you!), some intense drama, offered up some laughs and provided some legitimately creepy moments. Don't get me wrong, I can see why fans were displeased but if you hadn't read the books, I think the movie is a good alternative.  My recommendation if you are a fan is to not take the movie too seriously, otherwise you'll probably feel the bitter taste of disappointment.

Summary Prognosis
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones has gotten a lot of flack for not living up to the book but I kind of liked the movie. The casting was fairly well-done, with a few exceptions, and the plot was action-tastic! In terms of book-to-film adaptations, this one was pretty close to the original source material in both plot and feel. I did spend a lot of time trying to remember specifics from the book, though, so I feel like I may have missed out on some things. I'll probably go again, not for comparisons sake this time, but to enjoy the film for, well, being the film.


Watch It: This movie is currently out in theatres
Discuss It: IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes
View the Trailer:


  1. I've seen a lot of hype over the City of Bones books, glad you enjoyed the film. It sucks when they sugar coat things and they loose their "WTF-ness". Now I'm curious about the book.

    1. Trust me, the book is very YA and I think I had a hard time getting over that. It certainly wasn't bad, but it wasn't my fav either.

  2. Totally agree with you on the casting! And the movie was better than the book, but still not great.

    1. Agreed. I spent so much time trying to remember the book and play the comparison game that I feel like I might have overlooked a lot of the craptasticness. I guess I'll give it a re-watch when it comes out on DVD.

  3. I think I will enjoy this movie. I don't expect it too WOW me either, but I don't think they did a bad job from all the reviews I've read so far. I can't wait to see it :) Great review!


    1. The movie wasn't awful by any means and as an adaptation, I thought they did a decent job. Just make sure you go in there with lowered expectations, that's all.

  4. I enjoyed myself at the movie! I didn't expect much, but I did get some laughs and I was entertained. Clary and Simon were both so pretty to look at I guess that filled in the Jace creepy-face? Idk but I sure didn't hate it! Although all the bad reviews from 'serious' critics at NPR etc made me laugh hard.

    1. OMG, I knoooow! People take this kind of stuff SO seriously but c'mon! It's a movie interpretation of a YA book. What do you expect!? It was surely entertaining and not as bad as some people made it out to be. Ah, well.


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