The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
Director: Harald Zwart
Writer: Jessica Postigo
Based on: Cassandra Clare’s novel
Cast: Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, Robert Sheehan, Kevin Zegers, Jemima West, Robert Maillet, Kevin Durand, Godfrey Gao, Lena Headey, Jared Harris, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Aidan Turner
One night at a club, Clary (Lily Collins) stumbles upon three teenagers – Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower), Alec (Kevin Zegers) and Isabelle (Jemima West) – who kill a boy they claim is a demon. She calls her best friend Simon (Robert Sheehan) for help, but he can’t see the perpetrators or the victim. The next day, Clary runs into Jace again and she receives a frantic phone call from her mom (Lena Headey), telling her not to go back home again. Then her mom goes missing and Clary finds herself in over her head in a world that is suddenly filled with magic and demons, and intriguing Jace.
City of Bones is actually a rather decent adaptation of the book. But since I’m not a huge fan of the book and since that meant that the movie also pretty much copied every flaw, it didn’t blow me away. But it was pretty entertaining and the headdesk-worthy moments are few and far between.
As I said, as an adaptation the movie is really good. It gets the atmosphere, the characters and the humor of the book very right and there were only a couple of things where I would complain. Like that I was a bit disappointed by the lack of flying motorcycles. I did think that the few things they changed weren’t necessarily for the better (they mostly muddled intentions a bit and I thought that they gave too much away too early), but since they were pretty minor things, I didn’t mind much.
As a film on its own, I generally enjoyed it, though it certainly isn’t a subtle film and sometimes the hamfistedness really gets out of hand. Like when Valentine reveals that [SPOILER] he is both Jace’s and Clary’s father and the text is something like “I’m both your father, you’re siblings, brother and sister, you share the same blood.” And to prove that to Jace, he turns around his ring so that the supposed W becomes an M… [/SPOILER] Or the freaking kissing scene, where glowing flowers and stumbling girls and giggles are not enough, they have to turn on the sprinkler as well. Or the dramatic entrance music the library gets (not that I don’t appreciate the sentiment, but, you know…).
The cast I liked a lot, with the exception maybe of Jamie Campbell Bower. I mean, he doe have a difficult job. Jace is a drama queen and abrasive and arrogant – and you’re still supposed to fall for him (or at least understand why Clary would fall for him) and they decided to make that work by having him flip his hair a lot and glowering, basically. And that didn’t work for me, especially because I just don’t find JCB very attractive. [Godfrey Gao, on the other hand… *fans herself* dude just rocked that role. And I would have loved to get more of him.]
Even though there were more moments where I watched with an ironic distance and laughed at the film, there were moments when I was genuinely caught up in it (which is more than I can say for any of the Twilight movies). As things stand with the adaptations in this genre, I’d call that almost a win.
Summarizing: could be very much worse.