‘THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES’ (2013). A girl learns she has unusual origins in this adaptation of the Cassandra Clare novel. Text © Rissi JC

‘THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES’ (2013)

July 23, 2014 16 Comments

Considering this blog’s content is becoming a series of mushy TV films and occasional book review, lest this space falls into a puddle of reading all that’s “darling,” it might be time to shake things up a bit. This brings me to our film review of the day, The Mortal Instruments.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013) Film Review

Clary (Lily Collins) is an ordinary girl living with her mother in New York. Or so she thinks. Her artistic abilities intensify and her mother (Lena Headey), terrified she’ll remember something, puts a cap on Clary’s memories. This she does to put off, against the advice of her friend, telling Clary the truth of her birthright. Everything changes when Clary, along with best friend, Simon (Robert Sheehan), sneak into a club and she witnesses a murder by three young people covered in markings. Furthermore, it would seem she’s the only one who can see this. This makes Clary desperate to know the truth; why does she see what no one else can?

When someone kidnaps her mother, she is forced to team up with the murderer who’s name name is Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower). Jace is a Shadowhunter, a person committed to saving the world from daemons. Clary suddenly seems to be on this same path when she gets “the sight,” but at what cost is her embracing of her newly found powers going to demand? And what does her mother’s disappearance have to do with a past Clary cannot remember? 

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‘THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES’ (2013). A girl learns she has unusual origins in this adaptation of the Cassandra Clare novel. Text © Rissi JC

One of the biggest trends at the box office is to adapt popular novels – particularly in the YA genre. Some work, others don’t. With this young adult novel, there’s mixed results. This is kind of a dark, depraved world that while, full of great imagery, seems to focus on the bad rather than the good. Overlooking all of the themes that go against what Christianity, this film is in its own way, exceptional. There’s a lot of creative thinking going into its production and sometimes it’s hard to fault something for being “different”; sometimes it’s the unusual that’s most interesting. That is certainly the mold of this adaptation. Prior to the film’s release, its buzz inspired me to purchase the book, but all I did was page through; and I don’t regret not reading the book. From what I understand, the themes here pale in comparison to the novel themes.

FILM REVIEW | ‘DIVERGENT’ (2014) 
‘THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES’ (2013). A girl learns she has unusual origins in this adaptation of the Cassandra Clare novel. Text © Rissi JC

Some of the things that are interesting is the creative vision behind bringing the story to life. The making-of feature has author, Cassandra Clare who seems a genuine advocate of the filmmaking vision of her story. First off, the characters are intricate with not just some cool character traits but also a cool “look.” Everyone has their own style, but remains dark and brooding, while some seem more relatable. Where the Shadowhunters prove the former, Clary and Simon are the center. They’re the two people the viewers could relate to; particularly Simon whom I absolutely love. His character is a big reason this film works as well as it does, because he lends much needed realism to the overview.  

A flop at the box office did push back production on the sequel and while there’s things I like about this production, it’s hard to understand purely from a cinematic standpoint why this one was so… “blah.” It’s got nearly everything there needs to be to be a balm to even the most ardent fangirl’s heart. But then, perhaps that’s why it was such a disappointment – there can be danger in too much mayhem, and if there is one thing this film does well, it’s mayhem. 


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You can find The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones digitally on Amazon Video

Content: the PG13 material includes demons and a “sacred” cup that transforms people into the half-human/half-angel supernatural. There is plenty of violence and scenes of frightening creatures that transform from their human form into werewolves, or other creatures of the night. Vampires play a role as do warlocks. There is some inference of homosexuality; Clary and Jace kiss, nad leater learn they’re siblings. There are some additional innuendoes. Profanity includes, h*ll, da*n, etc.

About Rissi JC

amateur photog. #bookblogger. downton abbey. inspys. internet-photo-shy. writer. the aspiration is to someday write professionally. a girl can dream, right?

Rissi JC

amateur photog. #bookblogger. downton abbey. inspys. internet-photo-shy. writer. the aspiration is to someday write professionally. a girl can dream, right?

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16 Comments

  • Shannon July 23, 2014 at 4:32 PM

    I haven't seen the movie dvr'd it a few times only to erase it. I always do that not a huge tv person. (however counting down the days till Stalker and Secrets & Lies).

    I've read the series of books and they were good, but I think they would be so hard to transfer to the big screen.

    -snapshots by gidget (instagram)

    • Rissi July 23, 2014 at 8:15 PM

      Lots of people who loved the books didn't seem to like the film, Shannon, so I suspect that if you're a fan perhaps you wouldn't care for the film either – there was a LOT going on in the movie, for sure. Hope if you ever see it, you enjoy the film…

      Yay for fall 2014 TV shows. I cannot wait for several – guess, I'm a bit of a TV junkie. ;)

    • Shannon July 24, 2014 at 12:47 AM

      I'm usually loved the book hate the film with a few exceptions: Divergent, The Book Thief, and I hate to admit it but I like the Twilight movies better than the books. I hope to LOVE If I Stay and The Fault in Our Stars when I see them. Will see If I Stay while it's out, but wait to see TFIOS at home. Don't want to ugly cry in public! :)

    • Rissi July 24, 2014 at 1:07 AM

      Glad to know you liked Divergent. That's one I'll rent when it releases, especially since I saw its leading lady way back when in an American Girl movie and it'd be fun to see her in an "adult" role now. Haven't seen The Book Thief yet though my aunt loved it.

      Oo! I hope you enjoy If I Stay. It does indeed look good, and I recently picked up the book with the expectation of seeing the film – likely on DVD.

      LOL, I like how you said that: "ugly cry in public." I don't blame you – I wouldn't want to either, hence like you, I'll rent TFIOS. Hopefully I'll attempt the book first too. :)

  • Carlyn Brody July 23, 2014 at 8:27 PM

    I haven't seen the movie but I enjoyed reading your review. Two years ago, I listened to the audio book of The Mortal Instruments. I had read so many YA supernatural fiction that I was a bit sick of it so I stopped listening to it. I wasn't that impressed with the trailer for the movie so I decided not to see it. However, I want to give the movie a chance because of the uniqueness you described about the film in your review.

    • Rissi July 24, 2014 at 12:57 AM

      Thanks for reading, Carlyn!

      If you do decide to see it, I hope you enjoy it. For me, it was something like I hadn't seen in cinema before so it seemed "unique." Though for people who've seen Divergent, Twilight or other films along that line, they may not think this anything special – I just found it unique to my usual viewing and that's what grabbed my attention. :)

  • Kara July 24, 2014 at 12:24 AM

    I watched this earlier this year. And surprisingly enjoyed it. I definitely enjoyed it better than the book! I attempted to start this series a couple years ago and skimmed my way through the first three books and then stopped. It just wasn't as good as I'd hoped and I am still not a fan of the whole "he's my brother" storyline, even if it gets resolved. The movie is cute though. But still dark and dabbling in things we should definitely be careful about reading about.

    All in all, I'm glad I watched it. And once in a great while, may be tempted to watch it again. But if you've no interest in reading the books, then I say you're much better off. (Although I may be in the minority in thinking that way.)

    Nice review, Rissi! (As always. :)

    • Rissi July 24, 2014 at 1:02 AM

      I enjoyed it more than I thought, Kara. It was interesting for my normal viewing (I haven't ever seen the Twilight movies or anything like that) and so that's why it seemed interesting, I suspect.

      Thanks for your thoughts on the books. I just am not sure that they'll hold my attention now I've seen the film, which is part of the reason I try to read the book first then see the movie. Plus, like you say, that whole brother/sister plot would probably drive me nuts.

      Thanks for reading. As always, Kara, glad to have you visit. :)

  • Tressa S July 25, 2014 at 7:55 PM

    I'm glad you liked this one. I was disappointed. The things I liked about the book series was a lot of the dialogue and in movies they just can't fit that much in. I also didn't like the actor who played Jace. It just didn't work for me. I will say that this series isn't my favorite from Clare. I actually prefer the historical one, The Infernal Devices. That one has so many lines and sections that I just absolutely loved and I loved the characters and that it was cleaner (due to the time period). It is still very violent. I would recommend reading that one. :)

    • Rissi July 25, 2014 at 8:25 PM

      I can see not liking this for fans of the book, because that does seem to be a problem a lot in book-to-screen adaptations. I know one book-to-screen version I loved was Safe Haven. It was great to read the book prior to seeing the movie and while I liked both, I think the movie was a smidgeon better, especially the ending which felt more complete.

      Jamie played Jace very… confident and almost a little arrogant. I'm not sure if that's the book character or not, but that was my impression of Jace.

      Awesome! I always get Clare's series mixed up – the newer vs. the older, so I'll look into those historical books. Especially if you like them better – I'm always looking for YA recommendations. :) Thanks, Tressa.

    • Tressa S July 26, 2014 at 2:39 AM

      Jace is really arrogant, so Jamie was right on there. Jace is supposed to be extremely good looking – total bad boy and I didn't feel that edge from Jamie. He was too pretty for me – if you know what I mean. Just for this part. I totally don't have anything against him as an actor. Isn't it funny how we envision characters a certain way and even though I'm almost twice their age, I have these ideals about them? Lol!

    • Rissi July 26, 2014 at 3:03 AM

      Yes he did bring that well; he at least got that right. I did get a big of a "bad boy" vibe (maybe in the club scene), but yeah, I know what you're saying. Casting is sometimes a problem, I think I "deal" more readily, but that doesn't mean I'm not annoyed sometimes – especially if it's a character I am fond of thanks to the book – and I totally understand your feelings about Jace, especially being a fan of the books.

      …wonder if the sequel will ever be made?

  • Bekah M. August 1, 2014 at 3:05 PM

    I was pretty curious about this one and almost watched it, but when I saw there were vampires and werewolves in it I couldn't get myself to see it (I'm one of those girls who adamantly refused to watch Twilight even when some of my friends got mad at me lol!). Even though I skipped this one, it looks like Lily Collins did a good job and I hope the book fans liked it!

    • Rissi August 1, 2014 at 11:46 PM

      It's the same for me. I wasn't into the whole Twilight scene and while I adore the wedding pictures of Edward and Bella's I do's, I still haven't seen the movies or read the books; vampires aren't my thing either. That being said, I did watch Warm Bodies (zombies), and loved it as well as Red Riding Hood (werewolves) which is certainly a decent albeit dark film.

      Lily does a great job, though that was part of the reason I saw this since I've liked her acting in whatever I've seen her in. :)

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