The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones – Film Review

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones Lily Collins

He is the definition of “painfully thin.”

It’s been a bit of a ghost town around here lately, hey?

Not that I didn’t enjoy the break from the TV relentlessness.

And sadly, TMI:COB is no stellar supplement.

Not that anyone should really expect a Twilight knock-off to be any good.

TL;DR A lot of the pieces are nice, but nobody involved in this movie knows how to play with them properly. Instead, it’s a predictably safe, dull snooze. Lily Collins does what she can, but is swallowed by an endless swirl of CGI garbage and a strikingly forced romance. 2 out of 5 stars.

She also might be wanting to bang her brother. But even that’s not as fun as it sounds.

The story is the usual teen paranormal drama trudge: main character finds out they’re special or something, nefarious forces attack, main character must muster their inner strength blah blah to fend off evil and also win romance. Lily Collins is Clary (ugh), said main character, and she’s a Shadowhunter, like her mum. Shadowhunters fight off evil monsters, which include vampires, werewolves, demons, and witches. She teams up with seasoned Shadowhunters to get her mum back after she’s kidnapped by a super evil Shadowhunter, who is also her dad. The romance subplot between Clary and the blonde, British Shadowhunter kicks off way too arbitrarily and is soured by the possibility that they may be siblings. Other subplots include an annoying beta couple thing going on with another pair of Shadowhunters; and Clary’s dorky best friend being in love with her (duh).

He is refreshingly un-angsty about it, though. Most of the time.

I gotta say, this movie does a lot of stuff badly. But the worst has to be the violent, vaginal tearingly bad shoving in of the romance subplot between Clary and Skeletor (the blonde Shadowhunter. I don’t remember what his name is, but he’s grossly thin, so that’s what I’m calling him). I knew it was coming because yo, this is a teen paranormal romance movie. But then it kinda didn’t. And I liked that.

But then TMI:COB was like “Nuh, here it is, cunt,” and whacked it in there at about the hour mark (oh, the movie’s way too long, too. Natch). Clary and Skeletor have a gloriously melodramatic kiss and then it’s like they’re fucking Romeo and Juliet. At this time, Nerdy Best Friend decides to be a jealous turd and ramps things up.

And then, again, the movie kind of gets sick of the romance angle and drops it again. The complication of Clary and Skeletor maybe being siblings is responsible for that. But if you’re gonna go for it, just go for it. The soap opera was the only thing that kept Twilight alive. Nobody was going to those movies for the action scenes.


Why I hate this movie:

The action scenes aren’t much better. They are invariably just a flurry of CGI bullshit. No tension. No payoff. Just some slick camera work and flashiness. The worst one would probably be the demon morphing dog fight thingy in Clary’s apartment. It looks like shit and is totally incompetent.

Another action scene that doesn’t make any sense comes near the end when Clary uses one of her super special powers to freeze frame a bunch of demons. Instead of taking this opportunity to roll some heads, Clary and the gang just step around them and wait for them to unfreeze before getting massacred. Good work, guys.

There’s a black woman who is Clary’s neighbour. Guess what kind of supernatural being she is? A witch, if you hadn’t gotten there yet. What is this? TVD?

If the Shadowhunter base is situated in an American major city, why are all of them British?

Kevin Zegers’ character doesn’t get an ending scene. We last see him about to get treatment for some poison, and then don’t see him again. I guess he’s okay?

An early scene has Clary going to a fucking poetry slam. Of her own will. I don’t put up with that shit from Aria, and I’m not putting up with it from you.

Why are all hot girls completely unaware of their nerdy best friends?

High schoolers get into nightclub cliché.

Clary is a stupid name.

I don’t know what Skeletor’s actual name was, but I’m sure it was just as snowflakey.

Skeletor makes a point of telling Clary that she can trust no-one. Nek minnit, he is telling her to trust him. Oh, honey.

Oh, and the movie seriously should have worked more with the incest thing. I don’t know how the books go, but I’m willing to go 100% that they will turn out not to be related, so why not have some fun with it now?


But it’s not all bad:

The casting is surprisingly good. I’ve been a fan of Lily Collins ever since I saw her eyebrows float into frame in Abduction. She’s gorgeous and isn’t a terrible actress. And she’s flying the flag for we bushy-browed.

Lena Headey doesn’t get to do much, but she lends some relevance to the movie as Clary’s mum. Game of Thrones isn’t gonna last forever, baby. Get those roles.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers is slumming it as Valentine, the big bad Shadowhunter, and Clary (and possibly Skeletor’s) dad. Go back and make sure Dracula doesn’t get cancelled, darling.

Dr Ashford from the incomparable Resident Evil: Apocalypse is the shifty Shadowhunter head honcho.

Kevin Zegers turns in an amazingly convincing British accent as one half of the beta couple. He’s aging, but still doable. He looks better here than he did in Gossip Girl, at least.

CCH Pounder squeaks in to play the black witch chick. Credible.

The only cast member who isn’t impressive is Skeletor. Apparently Alex Pettyfer wasn’t available, so they just pumped “gangly, rude, blonde, Brit” into a search engine and here we are. He’s still better than Edward Cullen in every way, though.

Except for the isolated explosions of romance insanity, the melodrama is kept to a tolerable minimum. It’s unfortunately supplemented with lacklustre action and exposition, but I was grateful.

Clary’s “plucking things from drawings” ability is pretty fuckin’ cool. The things I’d turn real with that. Porn, mainly.

Oh, and Jonathan Rhys Meyers struts around without a shirt most of the time. It’s nice.



The most important question that needs to be asked of a teen paranormal romance action/drama in a post-Twilight world is “Do I hate her more than Bella?” Like The Host, the answer here is “no.” But everything else sucks, so. 2 out of 5 stars.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones Jamie Campbell Bower

Poor not-Alex Pettyfer.

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About ijusthateeverything

Sincerity is death.

8 responses to “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones – Film Review”

  1. Lydia says :

    I read the books. The first three are actually pretty good if you’re into science-fiction/fantasy/supernatural stuff. And the romance is kind of a subplot… At least for the first three. Then it becomes the sole purpose of the next books, and gets kind of bullshitty, so I stopped. I recommend to people that you stop after the first three, too.
    SPOILERS below: I’m answering some of your questions, and comment on other things–

    — No, they’re not siblings. But the story is actually kind of cool. Basically Valentine (evil Shadowhunter) made Jace’s (Skeletor) mother drink angel blood from an angel he kept chained up in the basement, while pregnant with him, then stole him out of the womb to keep super-baby for himself and killed her and her husband. He raised Skeletor in secret, expecting him to be extra super-powered. (Which he is, but we don’t find out until the third book.)
    –The incest is not avoided though, because Clary does in fact have another, real brother, also named Johnathan. (I guess Valentine wasn’t that creative with names.) He’s an evil mofo though, and does in fact have the hots for Clary, knowing full well they’re siblings. He doesn’t care. He still wants to tap that, and almost rapes her. We aren’t introduced to him until the third book.
    — Simon (nerdy friend) becomes a kickass vampire in the second book. He’s even less angsty about Clary in the novels, and is basically, “well, fine then. I guess I’ll just have to go and date Isabelle and Mia at the same time to make up for it, because I’m a vampire, and can do whatever the fuck I want now.” Hilarity ensues.
    — Alec (Kevin Zegers) is also way more important in the book. They briefly mentioned that the Clave (the organization of shadowhunters) is all “no homo” but not to the degree it is in the book. He has his own subplot that I found even more interesting than the main storyline at times. He ends up falling for Magnus, (who is also ridiculously toned down in the movie as well. I wish they would have done him justice, because he is just amazing. Think Criss Angel meets Rocky Horror Picture Show.) But his storyline just shows so well that in a lot of ways, Valentine was in the right to try and overthrough the Clave, because they are a bunch of assholes.
    — Jace is fucking hysterical in the books at times. He has such a dry sense of humour.
    — And last, there are some sick scenes in the book that the movie didn’t do for rating reasons, I guess.

    Oh, and just pretend Jace looks like this:
    (The official art for the books.)

    Final line: The books are better, (as usual. I say usual because holy shit, the Vampire Diaries books SUCK ASS after the first two. The show is 10X better.)

  2. Lydia says :

    Oh, and they’re all British because all shadowhunters come from Idris, a country stuck between Germany and France, and I guess they all speak with a British accent there?

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