The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (Rated: PG-13)
by Gavin,posted Aug 23 2013 1:40PM
It's interesting to see a movie based on a book that you're only halfway through reading. It's like you get the best of both world. You get to be one of the book snobs that says, "the book was so much better than the movie," and you also get to enjoy the ending as you expierence it for the first time. This was what I got to go through for The Mortal Instruments. My wife is obsessed with the book series more than she was obsessed with Twilight or Harry Potter. She insisted I read them as well. Since I drag ass on reading, the movie came out faster than I could finish it but I think that might be the best way to objectively view this film.
Ever since, Harry Potter was the massive cultural phenomonen that it was, movie studios have been in a fevered quest to find the next big hit in teen fiction. Some times they hit a homerun like they did with Twilight and other times they fail miserably like Percy Jackson. I'm sure all these books are good in their own right but sometimes they simply don't make good movies. For instance, I'm a huge fan of The Hunger Games series but I wasn't crazy about the movie. However Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a film series that far exceeds what the books have to offer yet makes little splash when they come out. Where will The Mortal Instruments fall on the success scale? It's too hard to tell but I hope it does well.
It stars Lily Colins (The Blind Side, Mirror, Mirror) as a teenage girl who gets swept into a secret world she never knew existed full of angels, demons, werewolves, vampires, warlocks, you name it. It wouldn't be teen fiction if there wasn't a love tirangle and the main side of that triangle for Colins is played by Jamie Campbell Bower (the Twilight series, Sweeny Todd). He's one of the good guys known as a Shadowhunter and it's his job to kill demons and vampires and werewolves but only if they get snotty. The rest of the cast isn't worth much of note since the respectable performers they have in it like Lena Heady (HBO's Game of Thrones, The Purge) and Jared Harris (Sherlock Holmes, Lincoln) are barely in the film and offer little.
For the most part, the casting is pretty good. Colins and Bower exude sexual chemistry that's playful and seems legit and Bower also tows the difficult line of being the sexy male lead in a teen fiction film but doesn't come across douchey. Perhaps part of that is that he's far from sexy and actually resembles a clothed alien in a wig. But one choice seems to have ruined part of the expierence and that was casting Jonathan Rhys Meyers (HBO's The Tutors, Mission Impossible III) as the main villain, Valentine. Everything about him seems wrong and forced from his costume to his over-acting.
I'm not sure why but teen fiction seems to be something that goes after female audiences but The Mortal instruments seems a little different. From the moment the book picked up, I enjoyed the gothic world that it created. Sure, there are elements that are lifted straight from Harry Potter and hints of many other "borrowed" stories along the way, but where it lacks in originality, it makes up for in excitement. Out of all the first installments of all the films I've mentioned so far, this is the most action-packed.
And if there is a major fault of The Mortal Instruments it's that. The book isn't very long yet the two-hour-long movie moves at a pace that makes you think it's 1,000 pages. If you know nothing about the book and see the movie, you will feel confused and lost for the first half of the film. Fans of the books won't mind or even notice this but the pacing is a massive problem. As an audience they expect you to accept, learn and remember an awful lot of information in a very short period of time. The reason why they do this is so they can stretch out the action at the end in hopes to get males to jump on board. It's an off-balance method but the end pretty much justfies the means.
Again, I didn't finish the book and I definetly didn't read any of the following ones. According to my wife and other mega fans that were leaving the screening, a decision was made by the screenwriters to rewrite a massive part of the storyline between the two main characters that some may feel "ruins the movies." I think that remains to be seen since we don't know how they'll work that out in future films (if there are future films). But as of right now, this first installment of The Mortal Instruments is strong and fun but leaves plenty of room for improvement. But don't worry, if history has taught us anything, the first movie is always the worst.