Film review: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013), directed by Harald Zwart
We went to see this film not really knowing what to expect. Apparently, the film is based on a series of books by Cassandra Clare that we’ve not read (or heard of before the film started being publicised), and it’s something to do with vampires and werewolves and teenage love. In other words, it could be a new Twilight. (Shudder.)
Clary (Lily Collins) is a teenager who likes to hang out with best friend Simon (Robert Sheehan) and go to poetry slam nights at coffee bars and that sort of thing. The “friendzoned” Simon has a crush on Clary.
Clary keeps seeing and scribbling a weird symbol. Her mother Jocelyn (Lena Headey) is a little freaked out about this, and is told by boyfriend Luke (Aidan Turner) that she needs to have The Talk with Clary, but Jocelyn isn’t ready.
At some sort of Goth club after ditching the poetry night, Clary sees the mysterious Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower) kill a man – but no one other than her can see him. One of the tattooed symbols on him is the same symbol that she keeps scribbling, so what does it mean? It means monsters are real, and the Brooklyn you thought you knew has a much darker side to it. Especially as when Clary comes home: the apartment is smashed up, she’s attacked by a monster and her mother has been taken.
Also starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Valentine, Jemima West as Isabelle, Kevin Zegers as Alec, Jared Harris as Hodge, CCH Pounder as Dorothea, and Godfrey Gao as Magnus Bane.
My spontaneous thought after seeing this film is that wow, this film is what Twilight should have been. We both really enjoyed it, even though there were bits that felt very Star Wars-ey. There is one thing in particular I have in mind here, which I won’t bring up because spoilers, but suffice it to say, the thought went along the lines of “well, if your mum’s Cersei Lannister …” Anyway, that particular thing I’m pretty sure is going to turn out to be a red herring (I mean, they actually say as much: “are you going to lie to both of them”), and it’ll be the other guy instead. We’ll see how that turns out.
Actually, I don’t know if I can wait a whole year for the next film to come out to find out how this story goes, so I’ve just ordered the books. How’s that for a ringing endorsement?
With Kick-Ass 2 I remarked on how many British actors there were. Even more so here, considering it’s a story set entirely in New York! It’s like an Anglo-Irish who’s who, with a French and a couple of Canadians thrown in for good measure. But then I take it the film was made in Canada and not Hollywood. Not that it makes a difference, it’s just nice to see people from this side of the pond and they get to be the heroes and not just the bad guys. Although yes, okay, the baddies have British accents here, but so do the heroes.
Speaking of which, anyone else look at Rhys Meyers and think he looks wayyyyy too young? Although, I suppose he wouldn’t have been implausibly young at the time, just … quite young. (Although, would it really be a spoiler to say what I’m talking about, considering it’s very obvious? In fact, it’s one of the things that reminded us of Star Wars.)
For those wondering about the vampires and werewolves, yes, there are those, but fortunately Clary doesn’t fall in love with one of them. The vampires are the real, nasty sort of UV-phobic vampires as well, so yay for that.
I also really liked the way that Clary probably did more – and showed more emotion – in the first 15 minutes of this film than Bella managed in five whole movies, and is a better role model to boot. Okay, I didn’t get a big grasp on who she was as a person, perhaps, but at least she has potential to be more than just an empty husk to be used for the audience’s projection purposes.
There were some clever things done in this film. I really like the setting, and it just felt like there was so much more to this world that would be great to explore in detail, and the film was a great fantasy adventure with lots of interesting things going on, and at times good lampshading. It looks good and while the whole love triangle is reminiscent of Twilight, Jace is not Edward (nor a vampire, thank goodness), and while he’s still emotionally damaged and brooding he’s not a creepy stalker. Hrm, well, at least he doesn’t watch Clary sleep from a tree outside her bedroom window for months on end and Clary actually has a life of her own.
4.5 out of 5 WANDS!! They used WANDS!!!