The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones – Film Review

September 14, 2013 3:19 pm

Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series is the latest teenage fiction to translate to the big screen. Starring Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower, City of Bones tells the story of an ordinary girl about to step into an extraordinary world. When Clary (Collins) witnesses a murder that no-one else can see at a nightclub, she is plunged into a life of Shadowhunters and demons. Her mother Jocelyn (Lena Headey) subsequently disappears and Clary follows the mysterious Jace (Bower) to find out what happened to her. Along the way she discovers more about herself than she could possibly imagine.

The-Mortal-Instruments-City-of-BonesThere’s no doubt that teenage fiction made into film has been a massive success over the past decade, starting with Harry Potter and moving on to Twilight. For fans of Cassandra Clare’s series, however, City of Bones is a little underwhelming. The majority of the film is simply fight scenes and heavy breathing or grunting from the cast members as they take a hit and miraculously recover incredibly quickly. The special effects are clever, but the story and the characters lose out in favour of fast action.

Another problem is the scriptwriting. Some scenes of this film are amongst the most cringe-worthy that I have ever seen, particularly when it comes to Jace and Clary being alone together. Moments that were meant to be serious or passionate ended up with making me and my friends burst out laughing at the stilted dialogue and over-dramatic filming. Character development is virtually non-existent because of this quite frankly poor scriptwriting, and I didn’t particularly care for any of the characters except Simon. Even Jocelyn, who is supposed to be the heroine, I couldn’t sympathise with (although mainly because of the immediate association with Cersei Baratheon / Lannister from Game of Thrones because of Lena Headey).

Reading this review so far you are probably under the impression that I didn’t enjoy this film in the slightest. However, despite dodgy dialogue and a barrage of fight scenes, City of Bones is far from the worst film that I have seen. My attention was grabbed and I didn’t find it boring, which is certainly a positive considering some of the dull films I have had to sit in front of. The plot twists were well done and the film was cleverly closed off at the end to cover the filmmakers’ backs in case there isn’t a sequel.

The film also made me view the book better. Having read the first in the series at the request of a friend, I was more than disappointed by Cassandra Clare, but the film made me realise that the idea actually has very solid legs to stand on. It’s no wonder that the series has achieved such success and although City of Bones doesn’t promise to be a blockbuster, it is far from the worst film that I have seen.

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  • Celine Ladoire

    I was disappointed in the movie, as well. Being a fan of the book series and having read all five books, I came out thinking that there was something wrong with the movie. I had read the first book years ago and hadn’t bothered re-reading it for the release of the movie. I wasn’t sure what it was exactly that was bothering me, until I talked with another of my friend, a fan as well. It was the details. Settings that were just wrong, the ‘portal’ at the end, which is supposed to be a mirror from which Jace keeps a broken piece that plays a small put somewhat important part in Jace’s storyline in ‘City of Ashes’, and many more details that just made the movie less enjoyable for a fan.
    In the end, I came out thinking that it was a good movie, but a poor adaptation.

    However, I can’t agree with you when you say that Jocelyn is the heroin. Clary is, but Jocelyn really isn’t.

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