Aug 21, 2013

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones Movie Review

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones by Harald Zwart
Release Date: August 21, 2013
Studio: Screen Gems
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 130 mins
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.

So I honestly feel like I have been waiting for this movie for a really long time.  Before I sat down and watched the film, I started to think about when I first read City of Bones.  And believe it or not, it actually wasn't too long ago.  Or at least not as long as I thought it was.  I read City of Bones towards the end of 2010, and immediately became hooked on the Shadowhunters world.  I devoured the entire Mortal Instruments series.  These books have an equal balance of seriousness with a healthy dose of humor.  

When I found out that the first book was being turned into a movie, only Lily Collins was cast as Clary Fray.  And then like every other fan of this series I sat back and waited for the character of Jace Wayland to be cast.  I waited...and waited...and waited.  Then finally Jamie Campbell Bower was cast as my favorite Shadowhunter.  After seeing an advanced screening of the film, I must say I am so happy that they took their time with casting Jace!  Jamie Campbell Bower captures the essence of Jace.  He and Lily definitely did Clary and Jace justice!

Book to film adaptations are always tricky for film makers.  Because you not only have the task of making a good movie, you also don't want to upset the fans of the books.  I feel like the filmmakers were definitely able to do this.  I remember going to a book signing with the author of the series Cassandra Clare.  When she was asked about the movie, and why it was taking so long for it to go into production, she told readers that the script was being rewritten because a lot of changes were made from the book.  She also explained how the movie industry works.  And just because a book is optioned for film, doesn't necessarily mean it will be made.

This film definitely was a great film adaptation.  There were times when certain characters appeared for the first time on screen that I got a little fangirly (Magnus Bane!).  I squealed when my favorite lines from the book were kept in the movie.  I also got teary eyed  at seeing certain scenes come to life, such as when you see the Institute for the first time.  But I also frowned when certain things were changed or left out.  I want to make it clear that none of the changes affected the overall plot of the film.  In fact, some would consider them to be minor.  At the time in which I am writing this I have only seen the movie once.  When it is released, I will go back and rewatch it, before I make a final opinion.  Not to sound like I am contradicting myself, but some of the changes seemed a little necessary for film.  Sometimes something that is written doesn't translate well to film.  Things have to be added and changed for viewers to understand it.

I really enjoyed the action scenes.  One of my favorite scenes was definitely the Hotel Dumort scene.  The fighting was just so action packed.  And the music during that scene was just perfectly upbeat.  It kept the scene going, and the audience definitely ate it up.  I went to a free advanced screening.  So most of the people in attendance weren't fans of the book.  I was impressed by how into the movie they were.  Especially since it was mostly filled with adults, which isn't the target audience of the film.

I recently went to a Q&A that Lily Collins attended to promote City of Bones.  One of the things that really stuck with me that she said was that they filmed this movie on emotions.  As I was watching, I totally got that.  The film doesn't rely on special effects, it relies on chemistry.  The chemistry between this cast is just amazing.   Jace and Clary scenes made me swoon, while any interaction between Jace and Simon had me laughing.  I know there was controversy when Jamie was cast because he was deemed "too skinny" by fans.  But as I said before Jamie really got Jace.  He captured Jace's snark and his demeanor better than I expected him to.  They could have easily hired a bulky guy with no connection to the character to look the part, but they choose not to.  Which made me really happy, because Jace is easily one of my favorite YA male characters.

The side and minor characters of the Mortal Instruments series are just as important as the leads.  Daily I go back and forth between who is my favorite character (Today it's Alec).  And the amazing thing about movies is that you can sometimes see more of minor characters than you do in books, because you're not restricted to the main character's point of view.  I loved that in the movie we got to see more of Luke, the sibling bond between Alec and Isabelle, and a glimpse of Valentine behind the scenes.  Even if I was a little iffy on Jonathan Rhys Meyer's portrayal of Valentine.  He just had a different take on the character than what I had while reading.  I always pictured Valentine as a misguided, manipulative person who believes that the end justifies the means.  Jonathan's portrayal of him was a lot angrier than I ever pictured him to be.  But cinematically it worked really well, because he is the villain.

If you've continued to read this to the end, you probably have realized how passionate I truly am about this series.  I am happy that Sony took such care with this franchise.  And I am happy to say that City of Bones was well worth the wait.


  1. I have been hearing so many good things about this movie adaptation and I'm super excited to see it tonight. Everyone is saying it's I'm going to believe it will live up to the hype.

  2. Thanks for sharing. I was wondering about all the things you mentioned. I am going this weekend.

  3. Jamie's capture of Jace's snark was on point. I still think he needs a cheeseburger or some chicken. But well done review and movie.


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