I’m going to preface this with ‘Yes I’ve read the series’ and secondly with ‘I had no qualms with the cast.’ Inevitably, however, I will have to say that I found the movie underwhelming. And that’s coming from someone who walked into the cinema with very low expectations. Oh sure there was an alright fight scene here and some okay visuals there, not to mention a chuckle or two from well-placed quips, but overall I found it rather wanting and less than engaging. I’m not here to rip the movie a new one, because lord knows this movie’s met with enough negativity as it is, but well there is no getting around the fact that The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones suffered from the poor execution of a derivative plot line.
The concept of a secondary world running parallel to our own, in which supernatural beings run rampant and are regulated by a special race of beings far superior to humans but look exactly like humans save for being far superior in appearance, is not new. In fact it’s a concept almost as old as time itself, definitely as old as the concept of angels and demons. Shadowhunters are, to quote a character ‘beings of immense power.’ Beings whose power originates from the mixing of angel blood, by way of consumption, with that of humans and creating the altered race of Shadowhunters. Who’ve existed in utter secret for generations and generations. The concept, while not new, is interesting. I am not going to get into disputes regarding the source material’s origins, either, that’s a whole different kettle of fish. Let’s just focus on the movie itself and where it failed to enthuse audiences, both readers and non-readers of the series alike.
The story itself, which has been shown time and again to be a formulaic triumph, centers in on one seemingly ordinary character plucked from his/her ordinary life and dragged into the extraordinary world from which, we discover, he/she was originally born into. (Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, anyone?) The protagonist is not only born into this world but is also the catalyst for change and/or must overcome a slew of obstacles in order to either save the world, their family or discover the truth behind their lineage, while at the same time contending with the adversities that come with being a teenager. (Adversities will be my umbrella term for school, romantic interests and friends!)
This has shown to be a winning formula for movies and was a winning formula for the book series however it seems that the fanbase of the series can’t sustain the weight of the movie’s problems. For a rather long movie it managed to feel extremely rushed, exposition was used in droves and moments of suspense were ruined by premature uncloaking of key details pertaining to turning points in the movie, turning twists that the audience could have felt any sort of turmoil over into tidbits of information. The ‘Luke I am your father’-point in the novel comes to mind. Jace, and Clary, discovering this piece of information in the novel leaves the reader reeling. In the movie they tell us from the get go that it’s just a ruse and not a good one at that. The relationship between Jace and Valentine should have been much more complicated than how it turned out onscreen. I found it very difficult to establish any form of emotional connection, other than boredom, with/for anything that occurred.
The relationships developed in the novel are rushed in the movie thus rendering each scene with Clary and Jace worthy of an eye-roll (friend’s term) if not a few cringes (mine). You’d expect a cringe after the reveal of Jace and Clary’s parentage however instead you’re cringing well before that. And I don’t blame the cast, no it’s an amalgamation of the writing and direction. The film suffers from a the feeling of inactivity even in amidst action and crucial plot points. The movie offered so much in terms of urban scenery, the visuals were admittedly rather brilliant (the Institute comes to mind), an intriguing back-story and the chance to take a kick ass heroine to the big screen. However somewhere along the way anything that might have made The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones a successful, interesting at best, movie became lost in the transition from the page to its premiere.
Edit: As a lot of the fans are aware the production of the second installment, City of Ashes, has in fact been delayed. This could very well be due to how poorly the film has done at the box office, not nearly making enough to cover the cost of production. Thing is, does anyone even really care enough for the next film?
– Anyone who was waiting to see Simon turned into a mouse was sorely disappointed.
– Where were the bloody flying nighttime motorcycles?
– Godfrey Gao, because I could watch his bad acting any time.
– I really like Janathan Rhys Meyers but what was with the multiple rats tails?
– That weird trick Jace shows Clary with the portal only came off seeming creepy.
– Cut it short because I’m extremely tired.