Rent it, buy it, or don’t bother? — Buy it.
[Some spoilers, but remember that the book has been out for six years…]
I saw They Mortal Instruments: City of Bones this past weekend and really enjoyed it. I’ll preface this by saying this series is good, but it won’t be cracking my top five list anytime soon. It might not ever break into my top ten. The premise is quite good, but the writing was nothing spectacular.
Still, I was really hyped to see the movie. It look amazing and exciting and action packed, and apparently I just can’t get enough of book-to-film adaptations. Which is good, considering they’re not going away anytime soon.
One of the first things I noticed with this film was that it was absolutely beautiful. All of the sets were spectacular, even the ones as simple as the apartment building or the cafe Clary and Simon like to visit. The Institute in particular was breathtaking, and it felt so full and lived-in. It definitely sucked you right into the movie.
I also thought the casting was fantastic. I was worried about Jaime Campbell Bower living up to my expectations as Jace. Although the look of the character wasn’t quite what I had envisioned, the actor definitely played the part. His serious demeanor, his mannerisms, and his sarcasm were right on par. Along with that I thought the actors that played Isabelle and Alec also knocked it out of the park, though Simon was by far my favorite.
The action in this movie was brilliant. It was frightening and exciting and realistic. It moved fast, it looked real, and it seemed like the characters really were fighting for their lives. Action is one of my favorite elements to any movie, and fight scenes are something I can be critical about. But I really, really enjoyed them in this movie.
This is a bit of a spoiler, but only if you haven’t read the books (and if you don’t want to know exact details about the movie). The possible incest plot in the books just about ruined the first novel for me. You’re meant to really root for Jace and Clary, only to get the rug pulled out from under you. It’s one thing to go down the “we can’t be together root”; it’s something else entirely to say, “we may be brother and sister.” In the movie, they pretty much spelled out to the audience that it was a lie. I’m glad they did this, because it made it far less uncomfortable to watch.
Flipping over to the things I didn’t like, I have to mention Godfrey Gao. Don’t get me wrong here, though. I love Godfrey Gao (mostly for superficial reasons). I think he makes an amazing Magnus. His makeup, clothes, and acting were spot on. His voice? That’s another story. He has a beautiful Eastern accent (he’s Taiwanese), but in the movie it’s American. Which would be fine…if it didn’t sound like they dubbed it. Now, I don’t know if they actually did do that, but there are definitely other people across the internet wondering the same thing. (Also, I could have used him on my screen more, thanks.)
The biggest problem I had with this movie was that it was too funny. The humor seemed out of place in a lot of spots, and it just fell flat. I blame the script rather than the actors. There are definitely jokes that landed well, but a few just died as soon as they came out of someone’s mouth. They seemed cheesy and forced, and a few were in spots that were full of action and suspense. It brought you out of the moment when all you wanted to do was be on the edge of your seat and find out what was going to happen next.
My last point is a minor one, especially since it might have more to do with the source material than anything else. It’s been a while since I’ve read the book, so I’m just going to comment on what I got from the movie. The entire movie only really did one thing for us: It told us that Clary is a Shadowhunter and then showed us her abilities. Everything else was a setup. Her interactions with the cup, her father, her mother, Simon, and Jace (among other things I’m sure) were never resolved. There wasn’t a lot of closure at the end of the movie. It definitely left you wanting more, but in this case I just didn’t feel satisfied enough.
I really did like the movie, though, and will be looking forward to the sequel. I think if they just nip and tuck a few points, they will have a ever better movie on their hands the next time around. Here’s to hoping!
Have you seen City of Bones? Are you planning on it? Have you read the books?