Movie Review: City of Bones

Joelene_tnJoelene reviews City of Bones and recovers from her casting doubts to find she loves it more than the book.



The-Mortal-Instruments-City-of-Bones-bannerFor those of us who have read Cassandra Clare’s New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series, the City of Bones movie was either much anticipated or much dreaded. After seeing the assembled cast, I threw my lot in with those of low expectations. I mean the action and special effects looked great in the trailer, but Clary was meant to have hair the colour of hell’s flames and Jace was meant to be the most stunningly attractive boy to ever grace God’s good earth or something. I felt cheated.

Which is precisely why I need to tell myself more regularly not to be shallow! The movie was amazing.

For anyone out there who hasn’t read the books, City of Bones follows the story of Clary, a normal teenage girl who begins seeing things that other people can’t. At first it’s just symbols but one night she and her best friend, Simon, head into a local night-club and she witnesses three teens killing someone. An occurrence that the rest of the club is oblivious to.

From there events snowball out of her control, dragging her and everyone that she loves along with them. If she has any hope of surviving she has to cast her lot in with Jace, a Shadowhunter, who has dedicated his life to keeping demons and other creatures from killing the innocent.

City_of_bones_posterThe casting that I had been so dismissive of at first won me over a few minutes into the film. Jamie Campbell Bower plays a sweeter Jace than the literary one, with the same casual confidence that secured fans of the novel. Godfrey Gao is obviously beautiful and the perfect Magnus. The movie adaptations of Clary and her mother, Jocelyn, were the ones that really shone though. Lena Headey plays a far more formidable Jocelyn than the novels showed. She’s smart, capable and determined; all traits that Lily Collin’s Clary is shown to have in abundance.

In many ways the movie surpasses the novel. It moves away from Clary’s perspective when necessary, while the first novel mostly stayed with her. This means that we not only get to see more of the other characters without reference to Clary, but we see scenes upon which she could only speculate. I don’t recall there being any indication that Jocelyn fought back when attacked in the novel. In the film she does so spectacularly, making it obvious where Clary gets her resourcefulness from.

While the characters translate well to film, the events are a little more tricky. The first half works brilliantly, while the ending is messier than in the novels. There’s so much back-story in the series that fitting it in was always going to pose problems, and in this case it disrupts the pacing somewhat.

Overall, I still really enjoyed the City of Bones movie and am looking forward to seeing how the next two go. This is one of the very few times that I can honestly say that I preferred the movie to the book. So, for anyone who hasn’t yet, go see the movie!

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