Some book-to-film adaptations turn out okay. Others turn out horribly wrong. And while I haven’t read “The Mortal Instruments” series, I have a feeling that even this book—a young adult fantasy along the same lines of “Twilight”—is about a hundred times better than the new movie it’s based on, even if the book is horrible. Yeah.
Directed by Harald Zwart (whose last film credit is the “Karate Kid “remake), “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” is based on the first book in the series by Cassandra Clare. It stars Lily Collins as Clary, a teen who keeps seeing and drawing strange symbols for seemingly no reason. When she goes to a club on her birthday with her best friend Simon (Robert Sheehan), she sees a man kill someone—but no one else does. She later finds out that this very gothic figure is Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower), a Shadowhunter. Basically, he hunts and kills demons who are posing as humans in the real world. Clary doesn’t trust him at first, but comes to rely on him when she goes home to find her apartment destroyed and her mother missing. Jace takes her and Simon (why he’s there, who knows?) to the Shadowhunters’ base, where Clary learns from Hodge (Jared Harris) that her mother was once a very gifted Shadowhunter, and that Clary shares her gifts. She also discovers that her mom was taken by Valentine (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), who wants something she hid: the powerful Mortal Cup. So now Clary, Jace, and the rest of the Shadowhunters have to race to find it before he does.
Sound confusing? It really is. Add some vampires and werewolves to the mix and things really get crazy, especially during the last third of the film, when the relationship between certain characters becomes painfully awkward. It could be that the source material wasn’t good to begin with, but more than likely the extremely rapid pace of the film, which is filled with characters who aren’t really developed and plot points that aren’t really explained, is due to a poor translation of the book. Too much is crammed into the space of 130 minutes, and the story doesn’t really end, leaving a lot of loose threads hanging. Even though a sequel based on the second book is already in preproduction, standing alone, this movie isn’t really accessible to anyone who isn’t familiar with the books. While those who have read the whole series may leave satisfied, those who haven’t will feel lost, and that’s the trick to creating a successful film adaptation of a novel: making it satisfactory to those who are fans of the original story, as well as understandable for those who aren’t. This film without a doubt fails at one, if not both, of those.
The actors also don’t seem into the story. Collins is really a descent actress, but she isn’t given much to work with. Her character starts out as selfish and really rather annoying, and doesn’t really change, so there’s no reason why the audience should care about her or want to follow her on her journey.
You all thought the “Twilight” movies were bad? That was nothing. At least the makers of that film franchise knew their audience, and weren’t afraid to sometimes even poke fun at the series. With this movie, you can’t even laugh at its badness because you really just don’t know what’s going on half the time. If you haven’t read the book, you might want to before seeing this movie. Or better yet, just don’t see the movie at all.
Runtime: 130 minutes. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of fantasy violence and action, and some suggestive content.
Check out showtimes for this movie and more at the following St. Louis-area theaters:
- Wehrenberg Theatres
- AMC Theatres
- Regal Movie Theatres
- Galleria 6
- Chase Park Plaza
- Moolah Theatre
- Hi-Pointe Theatre
- St. Andrews Cinema
- Plaza Frontenac Cinema
- Tivoli Theatre
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