Sunday, September 8, 2013

Book to Movie Review: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

movie film
Release Date: August 21, 2013

Director: Harald Zwart

Writers: Jessica Postigo (screenplay) 
Cassandra Clare (novel)

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones IMDB page

Spoilers alert!

When actress Lily Collins heard that there was going to be a City of Bones movie, she frantically made a bunch of phone calls so that she could get the role of Clary, a teenage girl who is thrown into the chaos of the war between Shadowhunters (the race of nephilim, half-angel and half-human warriors) and the forces of demons. 

Pacing / Action. 
The movie moves feverishly from action scene to action scene--the characters are chasing and being chased--with very little opportunities for character development. Clary is reduced to a scared little girl who screams a lot, and Jace's sarcasm is reduced to a few lines. Looking at it from the point of view of someone who hasn't read the book (I read it), the characters do have some personality that we see a hint of, but the moment passes quickly into another action scene. Oh my goodness! Vampires! Oh! Werewolves! What, no zombies? Oh, no zombies.

Now, the action scenes are pretty great. I feel bad for the pack of werewolves that go into the Institute. They died quickly. 

One of the few downtimes we get is when Clary meets Hodge in the library. Hodge gives her a 101 lecture, which shows up as a flashback with his voiceover. Jared Harris has a great voiceover voice. 

Cast/Characters. In my opinion, while otherworldly beautiful with chiseled cheekbones like in the book, Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower) comes across mostly as a bland, stone-like guardian aside from those little moments of sarcasm. I was expecting more fire from his character.  

Oh, Lena Heady, how beautiful you look with wavy hair.  As mentioned above, Clary's character is mostly reduced to a scared little girl. She screams a lot and is extremely impulsive. The movie got that part of her character down.

It is fun to see Kevin Zegers as Alec. The last time I saw him was in Gossip Girl, as a rich drug dealer kid. He has a strong screen presence, and Alec's possessiveness of Jace is quite believable, although the scene where he slams Clary against the wall, while having fury, lacks remorse and shock. 

A more minor character that I wish we could have seen more of, Magnus Bane (Godfrey Gao) with his eyeliner and bronzer (true to the book), exudes sexiness and charm. 

Simon (Robert Sheehan) looks gawky and lanky, but when he's stripped down to a white tank his arms still look so damn toned. Has he been working out at the institute? Did he even turn into a rat? Isabelle (Jemima West) comes across cold and aloof, but protective of her brother. 

Antagonist. In this movie, Valentine was reduced to a furious, smashy-smashy villain.  "Driiiiiiink it!!!! Muahahahaha..." he says as he tries to feed Clary the goblet of his thick blood droplets. Gross.

Wow. Way to sell it, bro. 

His character obviously has little experience being a parent because that's not the way to get your kids to eat anything, especially right after they just find out that you're their dad. 

I didn't mind the overacting so much as I was confused that the story had been changed so much that Valentine stayed inside the Institute and tried to invade it, as opposed to having his own lair. I partly blame the script for making Valentine seem like a moronic, one-dimensional bad guy. He's actually a lot more manipulative in the book when he tries to convince Clary to join his cause. 

Special Effects, Monsters, Setting. Some of the settings, while obviously computer-generated, were really cool, like the institute beyond Mundane vision. Gorgeous. 

Other settings were really cheesy, like the flowers that popped open during Jace and Clary's date night. That looked so fake, although I'm not sure how you can make suddenly-blooming flowers look real. The graphics were pretty fake though. The colors and the lighting didn't feel right.

The demons were really gross. They made me writhe with revulsion in my seat. Now that was cool. Demons should look like that. They're not cute at all.

Part of what intrigued me about the setting in the book was the class structure that Clary was learning about. There is a scene where the group goes into a diner and Jace flirts with an attractive downworlder waitress. Clary's trying to figure out the hierarchy of the non-Mundane world and says,


"So they're good enough to let live, good enough to make your food for you, good enough to flirt with--but not really good enough? I mean, not as good as people."
page 171, location 2610/6372 (Kindle)

We hear a mention of downworlders, but no conversation that truly explores it. 

Music. The soundtrack was made up of both classical pieces and contemporary songs. There are some parts in the movie that the soundtrack did not fit what was happening, or was overly dramatic and soap-opera-y, especially with the romantic scenes between Clary and Jace.

Ending. Well. The sibling twist isn't very dramatic, and it feels like the movie kind of waters it down by putting doubt so that it wouldn't be too controversial to parents and younger audiences. I don't know what they'll do in the sequel movie though, since the twist stays. It's a step away from the story in the book.



The movie doesn't seem to be doing so well in theaters. If you're still interested in seeing it, here's the trailer: 



Other movie reviews on The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones:
Thanks for reading! <3 Please comment below to let me know what you think.

--Ellen

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