Josh and Violet give their male vs. female perspective movie reviews of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, starring Lily Collins, Lena Headey, and Jamie Campbell Bower! Caution: There may be some spoilers ahead.
His Moral Instruments Review:
With the advent of the Twilight novel and movie franchise, it was inevitable what would follow: countless copycats in both film and novel format, trying to achieve the same “glory” that Twilight did with young girls and women. So how does The Mortal Instruments rank compared to Twilight? I would best describe it as better than Twilight, but still leaves me scratching my head as to who is drawn to this type of film.
The movie actually had an interesting premise. The story involves creatures and demons living incognito with humanity, while beings known as “Shadowhunters” are hunting these demons down. These Shadowhunters are on the brink of extinction, and are all that protect humanity from being consumed by the demon war. If you give me this film description, I am all in. It sounds much like the film Constantine as well as other demon/horror/supernatural type genres, which I find highly entertaining.
Unfortunately, these supernatural elements always seem to be tertiary compared to the main story going on, which seems to always be some sort of love triangle–or love quadrangle in this film’s case. The film centers on Clary (Lily Collins), a teenage girl who is having odd visions of a specific symbol (later learned to be a rune). Her “best friend” is a kid named Simon, who somehow Clary is unwilling to see the obvious crush he has on her.
Meanwhile, Clary’s mother Jocelyn (Lena Headey) is paranoid that Clary will discover who she really is, and seems bent on trying to stop this realization. Eventually, henchmen of Valentine, who are looking for some cup that holds the key to creating more Shadowhunters, take Jocelyn captive. Clary is then unwittingly drawn in the search for this cup herself, after meeting up with Jace, a Shadowhunter, who introduces her to the remaining Shadowhunters that are staying in downtown in a disguised building.
As I am providing a description of this movie, I realize how interesting this film should be to me. But what is peppered way to heavily in the film is this horrible love story(ies). (**SPOILERS AHOY IF YOU ARE INVESTED IN THE LOVE STORY**) We have Jace, who through his first interaction with Clary, makes a snide comment regarding Simon, seemingly already jealous of him. They just met! How does this even make sense?! Meanwhile Clary somehow has a blind eye to all of the blatant cues Simon as put up for Clary to see. Oh, and don’t forget, we have the agoraphobic Alec who is may or may not be jealous of Clary’s relationship with Jace, as Clary accuses him of being gay. Oh, and to make things even more interesting, there is some awkwardness between Jace and Clary, as they may or may not be brother and sister. Gross much?
Meanwhile, the demons are slowly taking over Earth, there aren’t enough Shadowhunters around to keep the demons at bay, there is this crazy cup that has to be found, yet often the story awkwardly tries to deal with these trivial feeling love stories.
Not only are these love stories a problem, but also some of the acting is just wooden. At some points in the film, I could not help but feel perplexed in how some situations were handled or acted out. For example: Clary, (prior to knowing anything about her Shadowhunter life) is being chased by a demon through her house. Her first thought? Find some gas/propane in the kitchen a blown the whole house up?!
Overall, I really like the premise of the film. The special effects were great as well, and Lily Collins I think is a much better actor than Kristen Stewart. I think the writing suffered in the film immensely, and without having read the books, I cannot say if it is the source material, or the adaptation that is the problem. If I were to take an educated guess though, I would say a little bit of both is to blame.
I have to rank this film a 4 out of 10. It was something I really wanted to like, even going in knowing it was likely riding the coattails of Twilight. I am a fan of films such as Underworld, Constantine and even enjoyed Van Helsing. Some of my favorite TV shows are Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and I even enjoy Supernatural. Unfortunately, this film does compare to any of these films or TV shows.
Her Mortal Instruments Review:
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is a supernatural movie based on the novel of the same name that is the first book in The Mortal Instruments young adult series by Cassandra Clare. Normally, I would have read the book in advance so that I could compare it to the movie, as I do with most of our reviews of movies that are based on books. In fact, I had planned to do just that back when I first heard about the movie at Wondercon in March. However, I never got around to it (sorry, I’ve just been too caught up with A Song of Ice and Fire, the Game of Thrones series, lately! Coincidentally, Lena Headey, who plays Cersei in Game of Thrones, is in this movie…) so both my and Josh’s perspectives are from someone who has not read the book. Unfortunately, I’m of the opinion that reading the book might have actually swayed me into giving this movie a more favorable review, because my review below is certainly not favorable.
The movie is about a teenage girl named Clary, played by Lily Collins, whose mother Jocelyn, played by Lena Headey, is trying to put off revealing to her daughter that they are Shadowhunters. The Shadowhunters are a secret society who protect humanity against the demons, werewolves, and vampires that live amongst the humans. The Shadowhunters can even choose whether or not they want to be visible to “mundanes” (humans who are not Shadowhunters). However, Clary starts seeing a “rune,” or symbol, which is associated with Shadowhunters, everywhere she looks, and she even sees some Shadowhunters kill a demon, though at the time she thinks she has just witnessed a murder of a human being. We soon learn that the only reason she was able to see this is because she is not a mundane.
A Shadowhunter named Jace, played by Jamie Campbell Bower, realizes she can see him, and she questions why she can see him and nobody else can. But before he can give her much insight about who she is, her mother calls her and tells her not to come home — but of course, she rushes straight home. By the time she gets there, her mother has been kidnapped by some demons looking for a certain cup. A demon comes back to the house and attacks Clary, but luckily Jace steps in and saves her, then takes her under his wing and brings her back to Shadowhunter headquarters, along with Clary’s best friend Simon.
We learn that there are very few Shadowhunters left, and somehow they are supposed to ward off all the demons. But the most important thing they have to do is track down this cup so they can keep it from falling into the wrong hands. Most of the movie is about the quest for the cup, and what happens once it is found.
I wanted to like the movie. I really did. But some aspects of the storyline were just not coherent. For example, jealousy and possessiveness seem to crop up from out of nowhere more than once and it’s like, wait, did I miss something? And when she accuses that guy of being gay and in love with Jace, that seemed to come out of left field, because I was not getting that vibe at all. Some parts of the story were a little hard to follow and didn’t make much sense. I guess I’ll have to chalk that up to trying to squeeze a whole novel into a two hour movie, because I have to imagine that things are better explained in the book. I suppose it may have just been a poor adaption, but again, I haven’t read the book, so I wouldn’t know for sure.
Additionally, some of the acting was bad. Some of it was good, but some was annoying, over-the-top, or just plain bad. Some of the effects were very fake and/or silly looking. There was some attempted humor in the movie, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t laugh once. And what was up with Jace, who’s supposed to be this big strong fighter, except he looks malnourished?? I also felt like there was no chemistry between Clary and Jace, and that what little there was, it felt forced. But, that may be a good thing considering what is later revealed.
I went into the movie with an open mind, but I should have known better when the Q&A portion at the Wondercon panel consisted mainly of 12 year old girls. The movie just felt a little too juvenile for me, but if you’re a tween or teen girl, you’ll probably like it, especially since there are several strong female characters to admire. However, I still might give the book a try eventually to see how it compares to the movie.
My rating: 4/10