Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Movie Review: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

Ally and I did our Shadowhunter duty on Sunday and went to see The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. We both had somewhat mixed feelings going in because 1) we're much bigger fans of The Infernal Devices series than TMI and 2) we haven't been blown away by most of the YA book-to-movie adaptations we've seen. But, we couldn't pass up the chance to see Shadowhunters on the big screen, so off we journeyed to the movie theater on Sunday afternoon.

I'll start with the biggest question that had been on my mind—could Jamie Campbell Bower pull off being Jace Wayland? I was definitely one of those people for whom the actor didn't fit the image of Jace that was in my head, but I really tried to give him a fair shake at the role. I think he tried to give Jace a dry sort of wit, which wasn't a bad approach, but our Mr. Wayland is also a seriously arrogant young man, and I felt that side of his character didn't come across enough on the screen.

I've never been a big Clary fan, so I felt neutral about her onscreen counterpart. Movie Clary has about as many mini-meltdowns as Book Clary does (AAH! I spent all night plastering my walls with drawings of the Angelic Power rune! AAH! There's some strange blond guy stalking me!). I just waited for them to pass. I loved Simon—perfect casting there, and I loved that he and Isabelle shared some scenes, even going up against some demons together (Sizzy foreshadowing? Yes, please!). Alec's character was also very true to the books, especially his blatant dislike (um, that may be phrasing it mildly) of Clary.

Ally wasn't too impressed with Magnus Bane, but I thought he was okay. With so many characters to introduce, he didn't have a whole bunch of screen time, and I missed that he didn't really get to show off his snarky side. I had a total Infernal Devices moment during the party scene when Magnus made a comment about Alec's eyes . . . .

One character who really surprised me was Clary's mother, Jocelyn. I've never had a lot of sympathy for her in the books, despite her having to run away from a psycho husband (more on Valentine in a minute), but I found her a much warmer figure here. Lena Headey (Cersei from Game of Thrones—YEAH!) was just awesome in the part, and she fought like a badass. When Valentine's henchmen turned up demanding the Mortal Cup and Jocelyn showed off some mad skills beating the crap out of them with a frying pan, I couldn't help thinking, I bet Cersei's always wanted to do that to Joffrey!

Jonathan Rhys Meyers made a suitably insane Valentine, but what was UP with his hair? It didn't bother me that the color didn't match Valentine's in the books, but the stuff hanging out of it did. Was his do some sort of homage to those little braids Jedi apprentices wear?

I normally don't geek out over special effects, but I must say that these were very well done. The demons were quite terrifying and didn't look cheesy at all. The Institute, both its exterior and interior, looked amazing. The library in particular was breathtaking. In general, I thought the movie did a great job bringing the Shadowhunters to life; the runes looked fantastic, and you even saw some of the older ones in the process of fading, like they do in the books. The fight scenes were incredible, especially the one with the vampires at the Hotel Dumort. You really got to see the Shadowhunters' enhanced agility and badass fighting skills in action.

My favorite scene was Jace and Clary's trip to the Silent City. The atmosphere was perfectly creepy throughout, and the Silent Brothers were as mysterious and eerie as they are in the novels. I wasn't too keen on the effect used for Brother Jeremiah's voice, but it didn't detract from the power of the scene.

If you've read City of Bones, then you know all about the crazy ending. It was slightly altered here, though its essence remained the same. I must be getting used to movies taking creative liberties with the books they're adapted from because the changes here didn't really faze me.

While there were a few wince-worthy lines of dialogue and I'm not sure how easy the movie would be to follow for those who haven't read the books, I quite enjoyed this. Definitely worth the movie ticket and repeat viewing on Blu-Ray/DVD when it becomes available.


  1. I was not a fan of the casting of JCB. At all. Not even a little. He did better than I expected him too but Jace is much more of an angsty jerk in the book...I missed that.

    Magnus. Sigh. Dude really needs to taking some acting classes before the next filming. He visually fits the part perfectly but Magnus is not a robot and that's what I got. :(

    I agree on Lena ~ great casting there.

    And, did I miss something in the book?? When did Valentine grow braids? Ewww.

    1. Ewww is right! I never would have pictured Valentine with those things!

      I felt the same about JCB's performance- better than I expected, but still not Jace from the books. Magnus was really missing his sarcasm- hope they fix that in the future. I thought Lena's performance was best; maybe they should look into snagging a few more GoT actors for City of Ashes, lol.

  2. I didn't like JCB as Jace either. I think visually, the movie did a pretty good job. I feel like the characters were the problem. I loved Lena as well.

    I also agree with Ali's comment above; Magnus was a lot like a robot.

    I wonder how successful the movie was because I went on opening night and there weren't that many people there.

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

    1. My other cousin went on Friday night, and she said the theater was pretty empty. I believe City of Ashes starts filming next month, so that one is most definitely a go, but I wonder if it's going to be the end of the books getting turned into movies.

  3. And this is why we're such good blogger friends! I love ID better than TMI and I'm not a Clary's fan either.

    The runes have always been a fascination to me to I'm happy to hear that they did that justice as well as the other parts. JCB looks like hes arrogant in real life, why didn't he bring it on screen? Sad about Magnus, he's my fave in both series.

    I expect nothing less from Jocelyn, as Cersei is another dimension, she should kick some serious ass.

    I haven't seen the movie, says its only #3 in the box office, makes me feel a little cyncial about the adaptation. I think you've shared some of the reasons why it didn't hit #1.


    1. If I hadn't read the books, I don't know if I would have followed everything that happened in the movie. From the ads on TV that I'd seen for it, I'm not sure they gave a good sense of what the movie was about, so that might have worked against it at the box office.

      Lena Headey really made the most out of her part; I had a feeling she'd be great, but seeing her fight onscreen- she was amazing!

  4. Great review! Glad I'm not the only one excited about Sizzy interaction... or completely befuddled by the fact that Valentine (who's supposed to be a pretty classy-looking dude) has PIRATE BRAIDS.
    And yes, Lena Headey is perf. As far as book-to-movie adaptations go, I think this one has set things up pretty nicely for the later movies, and if the Catching Fire trailer is any indication, the later movies are probably going to be a lot better.

    1. Haha- pirate braids! I was trying to figure out how to describe Valentine's hairstyle, but that sums it up perfectly! I don't think Book Valentine would approve of that look . . . .

      Simon and Isabelle looked great together; hope they get some more shared screen time in the next film.

  5. Oh wow, thanks for the honest, thorough and insightful review^^ I've never been a big fan of Clary either but for some reason I expected Lily Collins to really make a difference but I guess she can only do so much with the character heh. It's a shame that Jace didn't come off as angsty and snarky as book Jace. I was definitely one of those people who was far from impressed when they cast JCB but I'm glad that acting-wise he did a decent job! Simon was always one of my favorite TMI characters (along with Magnus) so I'm psyched for Simon - especially with Izzy :) Magnus definitely looks right but it bums me out that he didn't get more face time...not surprising I guess with such a big cast of characters.

    PS- I'm actually still kind of thrown that they didn't get JRM's hair blond like his son. To me it was a big deal that they looked so similar. But I had to laugh at your description of his hair style too. At least he's a brilliant actor so I'm sure he pulls of the role flawlessly :)

    1. Lily Collins's performance was all right; you said it perfectly: it was more that she could only do so much with Clary's character. I missed snarky Jace; he has such a commanding presence in the books, and I didn't think it got translated to the screen. Simon was very sweet, and I actually liked him even more than I did in the books. I'm sure Valentine's hair has been the subject of great discussion; yes, I would have liked to have seen it blond, but I was OK with it until I saw the braid thingies. JRM's short haircut was just fine without them!


We love hearing from our readers and do our best to reply. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment!