The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
“When her mother disappears, Clary Fray learns that she descends from a line of warriors who protect our world from demons. She joins forces with others like her and heads into a dangerous alternate New York called Downworld.”
… That’s like 1/2 right. Clary’s mother vanishes and she learns she is a Shadowhunter, a line of warriors who protect the world from evil. Clary is taken under the protection of the Institute, a NYC base for Shadowhunters.
Shadowhunters were created an unspecified number of centuries before by the Archangel Raziel, who poured his blood into a cup, one of the Mortal Instruments. The cup is the only way to make new shadowhunters who are not actually the children of shadowhunters, but more likely it kills the person who drinks from it.
Clary’s mother had stolen the cup from her husband Valentine, who in turn stole it from the protection of the Shadowhunter Council in order to combine his own blood with demon blood to increase his power. Clary’s mother hid the cup in an unknown location and Valentine died in a fire shortly after. Now, rumor has it, Valentine is back and he needs Clary to find the cup for him.
It’s a good story, the book is definitely a recommended read, but it’s kind of all over the place in movie form. Think the first 15-20 minutes of “Hunger Games” and you’re pretty much there- they don’t assume you read the book as much, but most of the movie is trying to stick dead-on the book so it slams from one major moment to the next, without any semblance of pace.
Now, while I said it tried to stick to the book as much as possible, the ending is like they brought in someone who’d never even read the back cover to do the last 30 min or so. To say it’s all over the scale doesn’t do it justice. The ending is weird and sloppy, and I really don’t know how better to describe it than I did already– someone who had no idea how it ended looked at the pieces on the board and said “OK, we do this, no wait- this, no this! Hey, why’s he here? Let’s kill him. Oh wait, no. Let’s do this instead–“… and it all plays out onscreen…
The story is pretty solidly performed under such veterans as Jamie Campbell Bower (Anthony in “Sweeny Todd”), Aidan Turner (Kili in “The Hobbit” and Mitchell in “Being Human”), and Lena Headey (Circe Lannester in “Game of Thrones”). All three do an excellent job. I even really liked Godfrey Gao who, for readers of the book, plays warlock Magnus Bane.
The antics of Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Valentine are reminiscent of whenever Henry threw a tantrum in “The Tudors” (if you don’t know, that was Rhys Meyers too). He kind of looks strung out the whole movie, which I am not entirely sure was the intent… I just didn’t buy him as the mega-baddie Valentine is supposed to be. He was too manic when compared with the charismatic and dangerous man in the books. Also, Jared Harris has been wonderful in previous roles, but I just didn’t like him here. I think it was the writing more than anything, he plays a huge part in the weirdness of Act 3.
On our list of over-acting is Lily Collins (the film’s star who, strangely, is great at the emotional stuff, but not so good when tears aren’t supposed to be flying). Kevin Zegers (Alec), Jemima West (Isabelle) and Robert Sheehan (Simon) also aren’t bringing their A-game. There seems to have been a period within filming where they were adjusting to their characters and just didn’t sync for the whole movie. Some scenes are good, some are more cringe-worthy. The lack of consistency is why I’m calling them out. But I’ve seen most of them in other stuff and know they are talented, so I’m hoping by the second film (which has already begun production) the performances will have settled in.
Age Rating: 10+ (?)
There is some violence in the movie, and some scary stuff, but nothing is too graphic and the most intimate moment is a kiss between teenagers, so there really isn’t anything to worry too much about. I don’t know how to warn about a possibly tetchy situation without giving away a major plot point, so if you have young kids highlight the text I’m putting in white to see if that’s a deal breaker:
The main characters, who kiss, are later declared brother and sister. They don’t entirely believe the revelation, so one is all for continuing the relationship. If that is something you’d be worried about, then there’s your warning. They do, however, heavily imply that it is a ruse.
Fun Trivia (Mostly from IMDB, as usual)
Since I don’t consider “This person was almost cast” or “this person auditioned” as particularly “fun trivia”, here is the only thing I could get–
Lily Collins (Clary) was a huge fan of the books, and when she heard there would be a movie she made numerous phone calls to the production office checking up on the auditions and trying to ensure her casting.