When I first got word of ‘The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones’, I was expecting a ‘Twilight’ knockoff capitalizing on the popularity of supernatural young adult novel adaptations based on the inclusion of werewolves, vampires, and a love triangle. However, as I sat in the theater watching the story unfold, that thought escaped my mind and I actually found Harald Zwart’s film pretty entertaining. Sure, it’s not without it’s flaws, but generally speaking, I liked it.
Based on the first book in a series by Cassandra Clare, this movie follows Clary Fray as she learns that she comes from a line of demon-hunting warriors, while trying to find her mother in an alternate New York City called Downworld. She’s joined on her journey by her best friend Simon and a team of Shadowhunters like her, named Jace, Isabelle, and Alec. Together, they encounter the likes of witches, warlocks, vampires, werewolves, and demons (but not zombies), and uncover a sinister plot by an infamous man named Valentine Morgenstern.
At fist glance, it really is hard not to compare ‘The Mortal Instruments’ to some of it’s cringe-worthy predecessors in this genre, but it ended up being much more than yet another cheap vampire love story replica. To begin with, one thing that stood out was the cast. The onscreen chemistry between stars Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower was great. Their back and forth will they/won’t they moments were very believable and the way that some jokes between their characters came off was just so natural.
Collins and Bower, along with Kevin Zegers and Jemima West, also had some great action scenes. These grand battles that they engaged in throughout the movie were pretty fun to watch. The fight choreography and the various gadgets they used in the fights made for some memorable moments.
Amidst all these serious ordeals and the demons, there was a good bit of comedy as well. I’m a bit of a sucker for puns and I feel like there were plenty to keep me satisfied, but if that’s not your thing, Campbell, Collins, and former ‘Misfits’ star Robert Sheehan provided some pretty good laughs. Some of them were fairly subtle, but when you caught them, they were pretty brilliant. I definitely laughed more times than I thought I would, though I shouldn’t have been surprised since Sheehan is hilarious. It was a bit weird hearing his American accent though, but I got used to it.
But for all the good, entertaining parts of the film, there was a pretty huge flaw in my experience. At times, the dialogue was extremely corny and lines just didn’t have the impact that they were hoping for. At one point, Simon is pouring his heart out, and the performance was good, but the script that he was working from hindered the scene due to how unrealistic and over the top his words were. Even the last lines of the film had me saying to myself, “Is that supposed to be deep?” Though the events being played out in the film were interesting to follow, I found myself often being taken out of the moment because of these terrible lines of dialogue.
Despite that fairly large flaw, as a whole I like ‘The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones’. I went into it thinking about what would set it apart from things like ‘Harry Potter’, ‘Twilight’, and ‘Percy Jackson’, but in the end, I found that it really took some of the best parts of each of those franchises, plus a little bit of ‘The Avengers’, ‘Star Wars’, and ‘Pretty In Pink’, and rolled it all into one. Of course, I wouldn’t say that it’s as good as any of those movies, but it’s definitely entertaining. Well, it’s much better than ‘Twilight’ and ‘Percy Jackson’, but definitely not the others. In closing, I would say that fans of the genre should enjoy this film very much. Considering that I haven’t read the books, I’m not sure what those fans will think, but judging it purely based on the movie, I’d be down to see the next installment of the series if it’s as good as this one. I just hope that they work out the dialogue issues.