Review: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

The Mortal Instruments comes with a fair amount of baggage. It’s a young adult urban fantasy series of five (with a sixth on the way) in a genre that by default seems to invite comparisons to Twilight1 and Harry Potter 2. There are love triangles galore3 which in the movie at least seem somewhat arbitrary. And then there’s the whole history with author Cassandra Clare's history in fan fiction4.

That being said, the movie was actually pretty enjoyable. Visually, it was pretty… well, pretty. The demons were adequately disgusting, borrowing heavily from Cthulhian shapelessness. The shadowhunters looked like they stepped out a modelling agency5–albeit one catering a bit more to the alt/punk/goth crowd. The fight scenes were exciting enough, although they got a bit hard to follow at time.

On that note, the universe in the movie is every bit as chaotic as it was in the books6. It seems like she wanted to fit in every urban fantasy creepy crawly and then some (except zombies; they even lampshaded that one in the movie). In the books, there’s at least enough room to breath and get a little bit of a sense for how everything fits together. In a movie (even if it stretched to just over two hours)? Not so much.

I did think the casting was well done though.  was an excellent choice for lead, terrified as she should be and strong enough to fight back at turns. As an added benefit, she actually looked like she could have been  (it took a bit to get over her not being Cersei though…) daughter–something not always accounted for in films. Even better was  as the Warlock Magnus Bane. I actually do hope that the sequels do get made just to see where they go with him…

Speaking of which, City of Ashes is apparently in production. I’ll probably even go see it, which should say enough about how I enjoyed City of Bones. Enjoyable as it was though, it’s been a good year. So City of Bones ends up with the all together similar (now that I think about it) Beautiful Creatures.

  1. Mortal Instruments is better ↩︎

  2. Harry Potter this time 😄 ↩︎

  3. Stretching into quadrilaterals / pentagons… ↩︎

  4. Personally, I don’t hold it against the Mortal Instruments, but it’s hard to complete ignore ↩︎

  5. Not nearly enough wear on that leather… ↩︎

  6. Yes, I’ve read them. The first three at least ↩︎