The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones movie poster
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The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones movie poster

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones Movie Review

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The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is about a teenage girl who discovers she has powers because something something angels vampires werewolves love triangle something. The movie is based on yet another bestselling young adult fiction book series I haven't heard of and few, based on the box office results, seemingly care about. Maybe because it's just more of the same, only not as good.

Lily Collins plays the main character Clary, who discovers she has special powers that descend from angels or fairy power or crystal meth or something. She is drawn into a complicated plot involving demons, vampires, werewolves and two dudes - one a normal human, the other a guy with long blond hair and a sword - each looking to show her their special powers, if you know what I mean.

The plot is rather convoluted and is all a bit much for a movie, which forced (?) director Harald Zwart to make The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones more than two hours long. The running time may work for Harry Potter or even Hunger Games, but both of those franchises are better written. City of Bones moves from one situation to the next with little cohesion nor sense of flow. More importantly, it lacks any defining scenes; every action sequence looks and feels the same.

I actually had to watch the movie twice within a week just to write this movie review because I had literally zoned out through large sections of it.

Perhaps the biggest problem is the characters and the actors who play them. Lily Collins is fine and is pretty to look at, but her character is shockingly bland. For the most part she lets her guy pals do the fighting; she gets knocked unconscious more times than she actually does anything useful. She's not obnoxiously offensive as Bella from Twilight, but at least I formed an opinion about Bella.

Jamie Campbell Bower plays Jace, the blond-haired dude looking to shadowdance his way in between Clary's legs, but he has zero chemistry with Collins and aside from a few funny remarks his character lacks energy. Simon, the "mundane" (this franchise's term for Muggle), is played adequately by Robert Sheehan, but he's pretty much the stereotypical best-friend-who-wants-to-sleep-with-his-girl-pal-but-is-squarely-in-the-friend-zone friend (Collins doesn't have any chemistry with Sheehan, either). The rest of the characters are so forgettable they could have been excised completely and no one would have noticed.

When The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones was released in August, my fellow movie critics ripped the film apart for making little sense and being a formulaic and forced production. I don't disagree, but the movie, as unimaginative and cliché as it is, at least operates at a fast pace and isn't entirely devoid of entertainment value. To call it a disaster is a misnomer, though it has all the makings of one.

If you've seen or read other young adult fiction novels of late, you've already seen The Mortal Instruments. And you've probably seen a better version, too.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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