The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (d. Harald Zwart USA/Germany 2013)

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (d. Harald Zwart USA/Germany 2013)

Please read ‘On Reviews‘ for a guide to how I write film reviews.


The gods of chance can be a cruel mistress. My Next two reviews, this being part one, revel in the love of chance. In a world where it is almost impossible to not know a thing about a film before watching it, these two reviews break this impossibility. I shall know nothing about either film before watching it. Not having seen a trailer, poster or know who’s in it or who directs it, before watching the film. This way the film works entirely on its own merits.


With a title like The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. I quickly found myself half expecting to see a sequel. There was much to suggest it is, they constantly hint at a past unbeknownst to the protagonist. Her mother could well have been the protagonist of the previous story. It is her connections to a danger that puts her daughter at risk. But this is explained within the film (I now understand that no such prequel exists – but there is plenty there for one to exist in the future). Much like Twilight (d. Catherine HardwickeChris WeitzDavid SladeBill Condon USA 20082009201020112012) this is a film that focuses on youth and her troubles. Though this is taken out of context into an unfriendly world. With little time for characters to develop or for any races or creatures to be explored or given care, the film is away with the action. Both Twilight and this film sours any respect usually given to the creatures or races it depicts – Vampires for example.


As a fantasy film, there were some interesting visuals. Obvious uses of CGI lending a colourful depiction of things – but will obviously date quickly. The film was ambitious in its content, keeping many races and characters within the film. However, this is more damaging than helpful to the films success. Many aren’t given the proper treatment and development they needed. The film attempts amongst its action elements to have unpredictable plot line involving romantic connections between characters as well as family ties. This being taken from a familiar film series. Though there are many, it does not make the film unpredictable and it does not create intrigue and character development. There were some interesting moments, but all were taken from very familiar clichés. Some actors do well with the unfortunate material they had to work with.


But, all in all, terrible. I have already heard that there is a sequel being planned, but I’ve seen the box office takings for this film and I can’t imagine its a financially sound idea. I can’t imagine a future for this film as a franchise and generally I would not recommend this film to anyone who isn’t a prepubescent outcast and even then i’d have to caution them to watch something else – Labyrinth (d. Jim Henson UK/USA 1986), The NeverEnding Story (d. Wolfgang Peterson West Germany/USA 1984) or Watership Down (d. Martin Rosen UK 1978) perhaps. All in all, point one to planning the night in advance. The gods of chance can be a cruel mistress.


Further Reading

The Mortal Instruments Site

Interview with Godfrey Gao

Interview with Jonathan Rhys Meyers

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