August 28, 2013

Haiku Revieu: The Mortal Instruments:City of Bones

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (***1/2)

Let's kill some demons
Robert sounds American
Wooden acting, yuck

POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD. I really wanted this movie to be good, you guys, I really did. And yet ... I am disappoint.

City of Bones centers around Clary, a "normal" teenage girl who starts seeing things no one else, particularly her best friend Simon, can see. When she confronts one of her hallucinations, a startlingly attractive boy who's name turns out to be Jace, she learns that she is not as normal as she seems. In fact, she's a "shadowhunter," a better than human species whose main purpose in life is to hunt down demons and kill them. This discovery leads to danger, excitement and—of course—life-changing adventure.

I am a fan of the Mortal Instruments book series (upon which this movie is based) in part because of the interesting plot lines and the well-rounded and humorous characters. The adaptation's plot was truncated, which I do realize happens in these cases due to time constraints, to a such a point that the entire thing got a little muddy. Plot points were changed in odd ways that just didn't make sense to me. And some of the actors were so wooden, they were hard to watch—particularly Godfrey Gao, who plays the character Magnus Bane. Magnus is supposed to be a flamboyant, snarky character with a room-filling presense, and, well ... Godfrey was nice to look at?

I did, however, enjoy some of the other casting. Robert Sheehan played Simon, Clary's bookish (and human) best friend. Simon is such a 180 from Nathan (Misfits), the only other character I've seen Robert play. Simon's also American, and Robert pulled off the accent quite well. Jamie Campbell Bower wasn't terrible as Jace, but he didn't quite have the gift for humor that book!Jace has. Lily Collins is super adorable—and girl totally owns her eyebrows—but I wanted a little more badass and a little less I guess I'll just go with the flow kind of girl.

The action scenes were also quite impressive—props to the stunt coordinators, and to some of the cast, who did their own stunts—and the demons were appropriately creepy.

Some of the musical choices, though, particularly during a pivotal scene that takes place in a conservatory (if you've read the books, you know which one I am talking about), are so bizarre and jarring.

Basically, there was good and bad, but the bad outweighed the good for me on this one. I know that the second movie's already in the works, and I really hope that, like a certain other YA book series adaptation, the movies get better as the series progresses.


  1. I finally saw the movie, so I can read this! My friend, who had also read the books, went with me and we had a lot of the same observations. Also, I hadn't read anything about casting, and I spent the whole movie going "I know Simon from somewhere!!!" and then immediately forgot to look it up. Thank you for clarifying! Talk about a character switch up - they could not be more different. No wonder I barely recognized him.

    Godfrey Gao - My friend and I were both saying the same thing about his acting. Magnus is supposed be super sexy and flamboyant, but he was just reading lines. My theory is that they had him pantsless in that first scene because otherwise we wouldn't know he was supposed to be sexy.

    I was kind of worried that Jace wasn't going to be attractive, because I find that actor sort of strange-looking, but he was pretty cute in the movie. One unfortunate thing about these books and this casting is that the best actor in the movie is asleep a lot.

    One other issue for me is that Jonathan Rhys Meyers looks so young for his age that it gives the impression that he had kids when he was like 10 years old.

    There is something else that I want to comment on, but it's super spoilery for the books, so we can leave it at "plot points were changed in odd ways".

  2. Good points, all. And are you referring to what Hodge told Valentine to tell the kids?