DISCLAIMER: It’s important to note that the author has not read the book series that the film is based on.
Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, based on the young adult Mortal Instruments book series by Cassandra Clare, is a film that does some things well. It’s also a film that misses the mark completely.
The story revolves around a secret group of invisible non-humans known as Shadowhunters, who protect the world from all things supernatural, like demons and warlocks and vampires and werewolves. The premise itself is not that bad, especially given the target audience, but the execution had some things to be desired.
One of the questions that continually comes up with these films based on young adult novels, is why the studios producing these films, don’t bet a little heavier on their success and gather a cast that can pull their own weight. The two main roles, filled by “Mirror Mirror” star Lily Collins and “Camelot” star Jamie Campbell Bower did okay…though Bower was better, but the rest of the cast just kind of meandered through, making it difficult to connect on any real level. As mentioned above, Bower did it better than his co-star, perhaps learning from his stint starring in the Twilight series. The acting of the supporting cast was mediocre at best and laughable at other times.
On the special effects front, things were relatively good. In fact, they carried the weaker parts of the film to a point that made them somewhat bearable. Several scenes in particular were impressive enough to raise some eyebrows.
The story itself was entertaining enough, though reminiscient of a love child between “Twilight” and the CW’s “Supernatural”. However, I will say this. The movie succeeded on a front that wasn’t expected, which is that it encouraged me to delve into the book series. It raised interest in the novels, which is not something that happens often in cases like these…”The Host” and “Beautiful Creatures” to offer two cases in point. If the throngs of Twi-hards had seen the original Twilight film prior to reading the book…Stephanie Meyer would still be a stay at home mom.
To put the whole film in context…at the beginning of the midnight screening in West Jordan, Utah, the crowd was filled with overexcited, female teenagers who started screaming and sighing once the opening credits began to roll. The first appearance of Bower’s Jace resulted in a few catcalls and pained sighs as well. When the film ended, this author plugged his ears in full expectation of the eruption of screams and cheers that often follows a teen flick…but they never came. Listening to the conversations as the throngs exited the theater, it seems the fans of the books weren’t overly excited about the end results of the movie.
Another word of caution to the studios who are making these films….go big or go home. If you can’t get a group of teenage girls excited, you’re clearly not doing something right.