The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
Based on the first novel of a young adult urban fantasy series of the same name, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones tells the story of Clary Fray (Lily Collins). A young woman who learns she is a descendent of supernatural demon fighters called Shadowhunters. Half human/half angel, these Shadowhunters have been protecting the world from things that go bump in the night for centuries.
I went into the film not having watched any trailers. I was an absolute Mortal Instruments virgin, and I am thankful for that for a few reasons:
- I didn’t have any expectations for the characters or translation of the story from page to film.
- I was pleasantly surprised when some of my favorite actors graced the screen if only for a few moments. (Aidan Turner, Robert Sheehan, Lena Headey, and Jared Harris).
- I was actually caught off guard by a twist towards the end. That never happens.
The movie centers on Clary Fray (Collins), a young woman thrust into the world of the supernatural just shy of a monumental birthday. I apologize for being vague, but it is not clear how old she is in the movie. Old enough to go to the club in NYC, but young enough to have something like a curfew, so 16-18. She is the daughter of Jocelyn (Lena Headey), an artist. Clary has a trusty pal and lifelong friend, Simon Lewis (Robert Sheehan, Misfits). She wants to celebrate her birthday like any baby hipster: poetry reading at the coffee shop followed by an evening at the all-ages nightclub. This is where she first encounters Jace (Jaime Campbell Bower); a blonde, brooding, pouty, oddly tatted young man in tight pants that are also baggy, when she witnesses him murder another club goer. Through a series of events, he reveals himself as a Shadowhunter and only Clary can see him, unless he chooses to reveal himself to other humans (mundanes). Jocelyn goes missing after a run in with two minions who are searching for “The Cup” (If you have a love/hate relationship with a certain Game of Thrones star, don’t worry, she is only in the movie for about 15 minutes.)
Simon shows up and the trio head back to
Hogwarts; I mean, The Institute. We meet Jace’s sibling Shadowhunting buddies Alec and Isabelle.
Clary learns that her mother was a Shadowhunter who stole the Mortal Cup to hide it from Valentine (Jonathan Rhys Myers), a fallen Shadowhunter who turned eeeevil. Clary has to learn how to tap into her powers with help from The Institute and a warlock named Magnus Bane (Godfrey Gao; ladies and gentlemen, you’re welcome). Shadowhunters are armed with: demon killing swords, runes, black leather outfits, and a magic screwdriver (no seriously, they use something that looks like a more mystical Sonic Screwdriver)
Of course we have a love triangle between Simon, Clary, and Jace.
And another love triangle between Clary, Jace, and Alec.
When the Jace, Clary, and the crew aren’t kicking ass, taking names, and searching for the Mortal Cup (and completely forgetting about the kidnapped Jocelyn), Jace and Clary are staring longingly into each other’s eyes. All set to music that is intended to tell you how you should feel during each scene.
Feel romantic dammit! Feel it!
Of course all the back and forth is topped off with a twist. And a battle versus good and evil and werewolves and vampires and Silent Monks and demons and lava smoke monsters, and I’m exhausted thinking about all of the characters we meet in such a short period of time.
The movie tried to balance action, drama, and a love story; it succeeded in some ways, failed in others. At times I wondered if the screenwriter and director forgot this was a PG-13 movie, and there were some major edits. It was a bit uneven.
What I wasn’t expecting out of this movie was some hearty laughs. There are great one-liners delivered by Sheehan and Bower. Surprisingly funny and well-timed laughs.
Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is far from a bad movie. It definitely leans more toward the quality of a later Harry Potter sequel and The Hunger Games with a tinge of Twilight cheese. The quality of the CGI is generally top notch. You need to go into this with a very firm suspension of disbelief because it is going to push you to the brink of: “Oh come on!” The action is great, the chemistry is solid, the idea is brilliant, the execution a little weak. I recommend a matinee.