Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is based on the book series that has sold an astounding 24 million copies. Bringing it to the big screen starring Lily Collins was probably a no brainer for the studio. But, by adapting the film as a movie… have filmmakers exposed a fatal flaw in the series? After witnessing the film, our Mortal Instruments: City of Bones review wonders if too many will compare it to the Harry Potter world?
The film features Collins as Clary, a teenager who seems to be living a normal life in New York City. She has a BFF (Robert Sheehan) in Simon who honestly wishes they were more. She has a mother (Lena Headey), who is as protective as one can be of a teenager. Headey’s Jocelyn is keeping a secret from her daughter and on this fateful day when the film begins, it proves too late to tell her about it before her daughter’s world turns upside down.
As seen in the Mortal Instruments: City of Bones trailer, Clary has special powers and is part of a “clan” that is 1,000 years old. They exist to keep the world safe from demons and on this day when we meet Collins’ character, she begins to see her world as it really is.
While celebrating her birthday, she sees something in a dance club that no one else does. Jamie Campbell Bower’s Jace kills someone, and the act sends Clary screaming. Meanwhile, her mother is attacked and kidnapped. Talk about a crazy day!
Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is directed by Harald Zwart (The Karate Kid) and he manages to do what he can with the material. And no, it is not an exact replica of the world of Harry Potter. Sure, there’s a Dumbledore type character in Hodge (a stellar Jared Harris), but in our opinion, that is where the comparisons should begin and end.
The effects are top notch and the way Zwart turns a city we all know, Manhattan, upside down into a world populated with demons and those who seek to destroy them, is commendable. And the cast, especially Collins (Mirror Mirror) -- who is a revelation -- seems to keenly know their audience. Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is a YA novel and most of those 24 million are under the age of twenty.
If we have any issues with Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, it is that it is a little on the long side. Sure, adapting a good-sized book to a two-hour movie is no easy task. Honestly, it’s a no-win situation. What gets cut will easily be scrutinized by fans as each has a different opinion as to what was needed in the page-to-screen effort. Cutting the novel that millions adore must have been a difficult task.
Yet, screenwriter Jessica Postigo does her best and keenly knows the characters of the book by Cassandra Clare and how to best weave the story the author created.
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is no Harry Potter. Nor, is it anything like The Hunger Games and the Twilight Saga. Isn’t it about time that Hollywood, and the press for that matter, stop looking for the “Next” saga to bring in billions? Each has its merits and each story comes from the most original of places. Put a group of young kids in a supernatural or life or death situation with the world’s future in the balance and everyone will line up to say it is a carbon copy of something done previously.
They are all stories who happen to be directed at a certain age group. The Mortal Instruments series has its merits, and its drawbacks, but in the end, 24 million fans saw something in the story that made it a phenomenon and when it comes to the movie version of their book series, they should be quite pleased.