Tuesday 27 August 2013

Movie Review: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013)

I'm sorry for delaying the Perpetual Motion Club. But I watched this movie today, and I've been getting increasing worked up about it. Between listening to the soundtrack on loop and reading opinions on the movie, I am getting very very angry.

Title: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
Director: Harald Zwart
Starring: Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell-Bower, Robert Sheehan, Lena Heady, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance, Action
Release Date: 22 August 2013
Warnings: Bit of kissing, fighting, no gore though. There's a few creepy elements involved.

I almost didn't include the Rotten Tomatoes button. I'm extremely angry with the reviewers there. You'll see why. But just, bear with the fact that I'm typing this while extremely worked up and angry here. 


Set in contemporary New York City, a seemingly ordinary teenager, Clary Fray (Lily Collins), discovers she is the descendant of a line of Shadowhunters, a secret cadre of young half-angel warriors locked in an ancient battle to protect our world from demons. After the disappearance of her mother (Lena Headey), Clary must join forces with a group of Shadowhunters, who introduce her to a dangerous alternate New York filled with demons, warlocks, vampires, werewolves and other deadly creatures.


So I'm a huge HUGE fan of the series. I acknowledge its faults, yes, but I'm still completely hooked on the characters and I've been tracking the movie news since like, two years ago. I acknowledge that this biases my point of view on the movie entirely, but I did consult with a couple of my friends who watched the movie with me and didn't read the book for their opinions. 

The movie definitely wasn't bad. The writing was decent, including amusing quips from the books that makes me, as a fan, so happy. The effects were gorgeous, dark and realistic, giving the movie a sort of gothic theme while preserving the magic from the actual books. It had a down-to-earth feeling despite being about a fantasy world and such. The ageing-up of the characters helped with that too. 

The acting was interesting. I'll give you individual opinions.

Clary, played by Lily Collins: I was surprised by her acting, honestly. From some of her previous works I had surmised that while she was gorgeous and probably a decent enough actress, she probably would not be able to portray Clary as a strong character. Which she did. Clary turned out to be way more human and resourceful than her book self. I could really believe that she was in the situation she was in, though she sometimes played down the emotions a bit too much. What I hated, though, was her makeup most of the time. They put these heavy dark shadows under her eyes that worked in the beginning, but as it just keep being reused, it just got old and it bothered me at how strange she looked. But i loved the portrayal. The scriptwriting was great for her character. Much less annoying than book Clary.  

Jace, played by Jamie Campbell Bower: No surprise there. He was brilliant in the action scenes, I have to say. Very Jace. And his portrayal of Jace, while not exactly spot-on, was great. Jace in the books was rude, arrogant and bitter. Somehow, it was partly why I didn't like the book Jace that much the more I read about him. However, Jamie's movie Jace was definitely nicer, while maintaining the sarcasm and arrogance that is associated with Jace. He's more formal, more of warrior, making the part when he becomes submissive to Valentine way more plausible and allowing his backstory to come through more clearly. I loved it, really. I get why some fans might be pissed at the changes in Jace, but I felt that they were really appropriate and contributed to the character far better.

Simon, played by Robert Sheehan: Easily the best portrayal in the whole movie. He was exactly what Simon was written like, and the emotion he managed to convey was....wow. The emotion he managed to convey during that scene in Clary's bedroom was amazing. I did think he spoke a bit too fast, and his actions were a bit rushed. I was in a course the other day about reviewing theatre, and one of the things he mentioned is that the pacing had to be right. And that was pretty much the only thing I found slightly off about Robbie's performance.

Alec, played by Kevin Zegers: I think his performance was great. However I hated the fact that they pretty much cut him out of the movie. I mean, he was there, but he had hardly any presence. Alec went through a huge character development in the first book, I really wished that they had at least included that. I mean, it was like two extra lines to the script. Two. Some fans were turned off by hims expressions. He looks sterner than the other actors (probably because he is SO MUCH OLDER) and it kind of turned off some of the other fans. He lacked the vulnerability book Alec has. In that scene where he slams Clary against the wall for stating that he was gay, in the book, Alec comes across as angry, but also desperate and scared. Clary wasn't afraid of him. There was so much depth there. In the movie he just seemed scary and condescending. Maybe it was just the accent. We may never know.

Isabelle, played by Jemima West: I liked her. She hardly said anything, much like her brother. But I do think she managed to convey Isabelle alright. However she lacked the vulnerability Isabelle had, appearing strangely stoic through some scenes where in the book, Isabelle displays clear emotions. But I think this could be due to the very little development she was given in this movie. Plenty of Sizzy in this movie, though. Despite it being way too early for that sort of thing to happen, I still kind of liked it ;)

Valentine, played by Jonathan Rhys-Meyers: I honestly liked his portrayal. I mean, sure, people hate on him because of the VERY VAST difference from the book Valentine, who is calmly manipulative. But I liked the more physical approach Jonathan Rhys-Meyers took, if only to show of his terrific abs. Because I don't see how he could have played Valentine as the super calm villain. It would have seemed very out of place in the brutality of the action parallel to his scenes. He did, however, possess a charisma that book Valentine is said to have, but never really seemed to display. Valentine was supposed to be inspirational, convincing all the others his age to fight against the life they had internalized (and let me tell you, my mother has told be far too much about the nature of internalization and how hard it can be to break) and to rebel. Book Valentine seemed cold and stiff, while extremely eloquent. So I liked his action. But the one thing I had a problem with was the god damn braids.

Hodge, played by Jared Harris: Meh. I didn't really have much of an opinion on Hodge. I think that his character was played down a bit too much by the actor. I didn't feel the emotion that Hodge could have.

Jocelyn, played by Lena Headey: I mean, I love Game of Thrones and I think she was great there. But this movie. Wow. She was just. Perfect. Right down to her costume designing, she was absolutely perfect to the book. Perfect timing, emotions, body language, all signs of an experienced and talented actress and she was probably one of the best parts of the movie, despite only being in a few scenes.

Luke, played by Aiden Turner: You know what I totally loved him. He's definitely way too young for the part--only 30 when the movie was filmed, but he totally pulls it off. As the werewolf as well. And Luke wolfing out int he chair, totally hot. But honestly, like many of the major book characters, he really didn't do much.

Magnus, played by Godfrey Gao: This is probably one of the biggest problems I had with the movie. What did I say about Robbie Sheehan and speech pace? Yeah. Multiply that by around 5 and you've got Godfrey Gao's performance. It might have been because of the crappy scriptwriting for his character--Magnus was never so calm and willing to give up information--but his speech tone and pace was static and didn't sound remotely like acting. It just sounded like he was reading from a script. Monotone. He definitely looked the part, let me tell you *fans self* but everything about his character in this movie just felt wrong. Magnus isn't serious and calm, he's glitter and bling and fabulous and flirty and dramatic. Match your character to the costume, bro.

So I really think the cast was mostly okay. I loved the chemistry, especially in Clary's relationships. Her best-friends vibe with Simon, her <3 a="" and="" any="" brilliant="" couldn="" currently="" effects="" fandoms="" for="" friend="" friends="" hardcore="" her="" hipster="" i="" is="" it="" jace="" jocelyn--let="" join="" just="" listening="" loop.="" loved="" m="" me="" mention="" might="" mother-daughter="" movie="" my="" non-fandom="" now="" of="" on="" one="" perfect.="" refuses="" she="" sorry="" soundtrack="" t="" tell="" tension="" that="" the="" think="" this="" to="" too.="" vibe="" was="" watched="" were="" who="" with="" wonderful.="" word="" you="">roll
. Clace shipping here, new fandom there... yeah. Shipping. Probably the worst thing about being a book fan is that the whole timeline was messed up. It may cause future plotholes if they intend to keep everything consistent in the next few books. No I won't spoil. The whole parallel scenes thing was awesome, but to outsiders, it might be confusing.
(And yes I'm deliberately not mentioning the big reveal because if you watched the movie you probably won't want to think about it and if you haven't......let's just say that you won't)


Now. I need to rant angrily at movie critics. You can stop reading now if you don't want to read my rant.

I need to firstly address some of the reviews given the movie on Rotten Tomatoes. When I last checked it had a 13% rating. THIRTEEN PERCENT. Are you kidding me? So I went and read a couple of reviews and I got worked up and started writing this review. Most of the reviews called the movie boring and drab, because it was a lame rip-off of Twilight. You see? It's this kind of stupid, idiotic, narrow-minded imbeciles that are making perfectly good YA movies have a bad reputation against all the other movie genres. None of them viewed the movie fairly. obviously the theme of the movie was darker, the sets were obviously more gothic, and it was aimed to look real, not the fluffy fantasy love stories that, for example, Twilight is. Like the Hunger Games. despite being a very serious movie, I didn't really feel the pure reality and darkness in it like I do in this movie. This movie was seriously one of the better YA movies I've seen. I'll be the first to admit that it wasn't that amazing, but I'm a huge fan of the books and I try to judge fairly and I think that if any decent critic looked at this movie as in another genre, like, if this movie wasn't made to be aimed at the young adult franchise, the movie would be reviewed pretty decently. That's what makes me angry. they're not judging it fairly. if mean, if it was a crappy movie, I would still be angry if the only basis that you judged the movie to be bad was on its similarity to another bad movie.

Whew. I'm totally not done, but I'll leave it at that.

This was incredibly long. I apologize for that. I might get a non-TMI-fan friend to write a review sometime.

Grade: A-. Great movie, great production, some problems with the characters but otherwise it was a good movie. YOU HEAR ME? IT WAS A GOOD MOVIE. 


  1. /blinks okay so I went and watched the movie yesterday and uh
    I'm going to say that your review of the cast and acting and stuff was pretty fair and I disagree with you on minor points but other than that well.
    Your response to rotten tomatoes etc is a little unfair because I can see why the movie got a low rating. Yes I agree on the twilight point, but some of the other comments are debatable.
    E.g. The movie has a decent amount of inconsistencies with canon, especially with the final battle. Which, to be honest, was pretty confusing for me, especially considering that they kept randomly changing scenes. Like there was that one part where Luke escaped from his bonds but then he didn't appear after that till the portal exploded??
    Another example: Alec and isabelle weren't given names until halfway through the movie. Jace wasn't given a name until they entered the Institute. Any mentions of names were one-off things and weren't really memorable like vdwfjohwdkjhfhdalj

  2. Hello! :D

    I thought the characters were pretty good but I didn't like the editing of the movie >m< and I thought that could have resulted in its low rating. Like I personally thought that they wanted to fit too many things into one movie and thus resulted in scenes moving too quickly making the plot hard to follow. It seemed to be something that was touch and go. So I thought that they should have chosen specific scenes they wanted to expand on and then work on those instead to make the scenes overall more memorable.

    I was really disturbed with Godfrey Gao as an actor ;m; I agree he does look the part and everything but he seems to be really two dimensional as a character and his voice was static as you said. I hope they expand on it as well in following movies :D because I really like Malec.

    I also thought that the fact that Alec was gay was brought up too abruptly though everything else in the movies was really abrupt as well ;m; Like I didn't see how Clary was able to deduce his sexuality in the short time she had known him (of course that could be a long time in movie world but still, if you keep changing scenes so abruptly, time flow is a bit hard to follow.)

    Overall its a nice movie though ^^ Clace isn't my OTP but still, I thought that were a little cute. But that part after the greenhouse where Jace found out Simon was in Clary's room, that was a bit weird because I felt that Jace left his characterisation and acted like a little kid about it >m<

    I really liked the effects :D It made everything seem more believable and the Institute was one of the most beautiful piece of (possibly fake) architecture I have seen in a movie ^^ Whee I agree with you pretty much on the actor's up there too ^^



If you want my opinion on anything, or want to share your opinion on anything I've said, comment below!