Saturday, September 7, 2013

Movie Review: The Mortal Instruments

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013)

Directed by: Harald Zwart
Screenplay by: Jessica Postigo (based on the book by Cassandra Clare)
Starring: Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, Robert Sheehan

[PG 13]

Action, Adventure, Drama

Let us just ignore the fact that this review is two weeks too late, shall we?


Alright-y; The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. Unlike the majority of attendees, I actually quite enjoyed this feature. Was it perfect? No. Definitely not. But, as far as book-to-movie adaptations go, it was not too bad.

Let's start with the plot.

First of all, I would like to say that this movie mirrored the book pretty well, in regards to the things that were happening and the order in which they happened. I knew, at all times, what part of the book we were in and where things were headed (until the end, that is). And I enjoyed this fact, given how often movie directors/writers take things into their own hands and throw a bunch of random scenes in so that the readers do not know what is what and the difference between up and down (/cough, Percy Jackson). Also, a lot of the dialogue in the movie was taken right from the book, which I loved. SO many hilarious lines to giggle at, and it really broke up the tension between scenes, given how dramatic everything is. Now, there were quite a few scenes that were added in at the discretion of those in charge of shooting the movie, and this is where the majority of the problems come in. There were some really interesting additions, such as how Bach was a Shadowhunter, and his discovery of the affect piano notes had on demons. But sometimes, the scenes seemed kind of useless; taking up time that should have been used to explain other, more important things. One of the major problems that reviewers seemed to have with the movie (myself included) was the fact that runes were not explained very well and Steles were not discussed at all. Instead, a lot of time was spent on useless flashbacks (such as the shots of the Circle and the string of scenes leading Clary to Magnus). There was also quite a bit of focus on Luke's pack near the climax, but we ended up learning nothing about them (except that werewolves are quite easy to kill?). I get the whole time constraint thing, but really; if these additions had been left out, then there would have been plenty of time for other, more useful information. Going into the movie as a reader, I could kind of let the lack of explaining get by (even though it is still upsetting), because I already know and understand the world; but for someone who has not read the books, it leaves a lot of unanswered questions and confusing plot holes.

As far as casting goes, I really liked the bulk of the actors/actresses commissioned to play these characters. Lily Collins was phenomenal, and I really enjoyed the fact that she was able to turn my dislike of Book Clary into like for her movie portrayal. Movie Clary was tough and her reaction to things seemed very real and genuine (though her relationship with Jocelyn seemed a bit flat/forced), whereas in the book she was kind of extremely whiny. Jamie Campbell Bower, whom I was extremely wary of before the release, portrayed Jace nicely. I know a lot of people were worried about the fact that he would not be able to deliver Jace's lines and attitude correctly, but I thought that he did quite well. Also, I liked his face.

Robert Sheehan was SO CUTE. I certainly did not hate Simon in the books, but he wasn't a favorite of mine either. This movie, however, made me want to tackle his character, hug him, and never let go. Robert delivered all of his lines spectacularly, and I loved how flawlessly he was able to express Simon's emotions. Valentine, on the other hand, was not a good representation. First of all, the actor—Jonathan Rhys Meyers—looked nothing like the image of Valentine that I had in my head prior to viewing this movie. In the book, he was described as very posh and put-together, but Movie version was just... crazy. Flat-out evil. Not very likeable. And that was the thing about Book Valentine; he was doing awful, awful things, but he was doing them because he actually believed that his actions were for the good of the (Shadowhunter) world. And he cared about Clary and Jace. In the movie, he was literally insane. I do not really know what else to say about him, except that he was probably one of the most disappointing parts of this movie.

And now; super-quick-secondary-character-opinions:

Isabelle -- KICKED ASS.
Alec --  I just could not get over how old he seemed, in comparison to the others. I would have preferred someone much younger.
Magnus -- Oh, Godfrey Gao... He looks great on camera, he really does. Unfortunately, however, he was not able to pull off his character or any of Magnus' lines...

The romance in this movie was pretty cringe-worthy as well. Have some examples!

1. Clary tripping into Jace in the greenhouse. *facepalm*
2. Clary falling on Jace atop the hotel roof. I mean, I can understand looking longingly into each others eyes for a second or two before getting up, but this was, like, five to eight seconds of awkward eye-rape. There are vampires after you. RUN!
3. The exchange between the two when they were on the motorcycle. "Do I put my hands... on your... stomach? *fake revulsion because he is my brother (supposedly)*" "Put them riiiiiiight, here. *copious amounts of awkward*"
4. The whole ponytail thing at Magnus' party. *cringe* That worked out much better in the book.
5. Jace stroking Clary's face through a piece of the Portal.
6. And, of course, the whole sibling thing was really awkward and did not work out. It made the plot extremely complicated and confusing, and did not help the already cheesy romance at all.

Despite the inconsistencies and God-awful romance, the special effects in this movie were AH-MAZING. Nothing seemed too cheesy or bad or low budget, and I particularly liked the various demons that showed up throughout the picture. Everything was so visually pleasing; the fight scenes, the setting—New York, the Institute, the decrepit hotel—and, overall, I was really pleased with the attention they gave to visual detail. A prime example of this is Clary. A lot of times, during movie fight scenes, females do not really show signs of an altercation (such as Lena in Beautiful Creatures, Alice in either SyFy's Alice or Tim Burton's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, or Annabeth in Percy Jackson), but after slaying demons and losing her mother, Clary was a wreck. She looked exhausted, there was dirt underneath her fingernails and on her face, her hair was stringy and she looked very pale/clammy. I loved that.

Now, I have already kind of touched base on how much I enjoyed the humor in this movie, but I will take the time to regale you with a few of my favorite lines (disclaimer; not 100% acurate).

These were taken straight from the book:

"Nope, just me."

"My hair is naturally blonde."

"Is this when you start tearing strips off your T-shirt to bind up my wound?"
"If you wanted me to rip my clothes off, you should have just asked."

"At least you don't have to worry about rejection."
"Not necessarily. I turn myself down occasionally, just to keep it interesting."

"You can go ahead and hang your head out the car window if you feel like it."
"I'm a werewolf, not a golden retriever."

Movie original:

"You killed two cops!"
"They weren't cops."
[a short while later...]
"You killed two cops."
"They weren't cops."
"They looked like cops."
"They weren't cops."
"Then how did they get the car?"

"Tell your mom to call me!"

Simon's reaction to being inside Pandemonium.

Jace pulling all of the weapons out of his belt/person before entering Dorothea's.

Good stuff.

Overall, despite the fact that there were a lot of inconsistencies, things that could have been handled better, and a lack of certain crucial information, the special/visual effects were amazing and the majority of the acting was great. No movie adaptation is ever a perfect representation of the book—things must be removed because of time constraints, actors and directors create their own character/setting/world realities, and viewers have their own personal opinions and experiences concerning the book—but I thought that this one remained relatively loyal and very enjoyable.

- Rating -


(or a 'C,' if we are using an actual grading scale)

What did you guys think? Did you love it, did you hate it? Let me know! I, personally, am hoping for a second movie (and more of Jamie Campbell Bower).

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