movie · Paranormal · SERIES · YA · YA Series

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones Movie Review

mortal-instruments-leadI wanted to see this movie.  I mean, I had read the book three times, so you could say it’s a favorite. And of course, to see it brought to life on the big screen was just something that I couldn’t pass up.

Initially, I was unimpressed with the casting.


I am not a fan of skinny blond guys, and I always kinda thought that Jamie Campbell Bower looked…unwashed.  To say I was skeptical would be kind.  Jace is the epitome of the perfect bad boy guy, he has a heart of gold and is snarky, incredibly smart, sarcastic, and pretty much an all around bad-ass.  So I think that going in, Jace would be very difficult to cast. He’s a very much beloved character and he had to be perfect and I think a lot of people were disappointed. Many wanted Alex Pettyfer, but I am NOT a fan, so I was relieved when they didn’t go in that direction (plus, he’s just too old). After my initial skepticism, though, I warmed up to JCB.  Seeing the pictures after they started filming helped a great deal toward me accepting him, but then we saw the trailer, and holy hot sauce, I climbed on board that train and I became convinced, before even seeing the movie, that JCB made the perfect Jace.  His androgynous beauty totally turned me into a fan.  Plus the voice, gah!

Honestly, the rest of the characters didn’t mean as much to me as Jace did, but I really think they did a fantastic job with the majority of the casting decisions.  Simon, in particular, was perfect.

Robert Sheehan brought every facet of Simon’s character to life. He was absolutely perfect.  Funny, self-depricating, in love with Clary…I can’t say enough about him. Great job, there, casting peeps.

The majority of the rest of the cast was just okay with me, they did perfectly fine jobs. I actually really liked Lena Headey as Jocelyn Fray, but to see her in a contemporary setting was a bit jarring.  I just realized while watching Mortal Instruments that she could pass for Kiera Knightly’s older sister. They even talk the same way.

But anyway…back to the casting.  Everyone else, I thought, did a great job.  They all fit their characters very well.  I read somewhere that someone had an issue with Magnus, played by Godfrey Gao, but I liked him and I saw nothing wrong with his characterization of Magnus.  He actually didn’t have a lot of screen time, which is unfortunate, because he sure is pretty.

Now that I’ve covered the characters, let me discuss the actual movie. WARNING: The concept of “based on the book” is alive & well in this adaptation.  The first 1/3 of the book, probably until right around when (spoiler warning if you haven’t read the books) Jocelyn is taken was on par with the movie, but the prevalent thought in my head for the remainder of the movie was pretty much “it’s gone completely off the rails.” I am not even exaggerating.

There were certain scenes that were pulled from the books (the greenhouse scene), but a lot of it was, how do I say…completely made up by the screenwriter/producers.  And the unfortunate thing about this is that I don’t understand how they will proceed with the followup movies/adaptations.  There are elements in the book that were pretty important to the storyline for the entire series, like the fact that Simon becomes a vampire, that the movie did not explore.

However, having said that, I did enjoy the movie.  It felt more like an homage to me, borrowing elements of the book like the characters, setting, and some scenes, but it became it’s own story, it’s own world.  It was action packed and went in several directions that made sense, but it really did not follow too closely to what actually happens in the book.

My least favorite aspect of this adaptation was the characterization and look of Valentine.  

The whole look of him was completely off to me.  Valentine in my head had a regal posture, reminiscent of Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy.  JRM played Valentine with a sexy, slinky swagger, more in line with the attitude of a lead singer of a band known for their unfortunate affinity for white boy dreads.  The whole shirtless, smirky intesity did not jive to me with someone who had the charisma to turn idealistic young shadowhunters into brainwasihed purists of their race.  It didn’t work for me, though I do love JRM in pretty much everything else.  This character is definitely a victim of the adaptation and I think it really detracted from the movie.  I couldn’t take him seriously.

At the end of the day, like I said, I did like the movie, but it made me want to go and reread the book to take the strange flavor out of my head regarding these beloved characters.  Warning to TMI fans: proceed with caution.


10 thoughts on “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones Movie Review

  1. Ha! Great review… LOL I couldn’t agree with you move on THIS:

    “JRM played Valentine with a sexy, slinky swagger, more in line with the attitude of a lead singer of a band known for their unfortunate affinity for white boy dreads.”

    I liked most of the cast! I wish I was able to hop aboard the JCB train, but I just can’t. I am with ya on the voice– I liked that A LOT! BUT…. he looked too skinny to me and well… no. I just can’t handle it. 😦 Maybe he’ll bulk up before the next one?? IF there is a next one?

    I was pissed that Simon wasn’t turned into a rat. There were so many things that were missing! Also– the whole not brother/sister thing shouldn’t have been spoiled! haha Unless they didn’t want to creep people out?? Who knows. I want to reread the book now too.

    1. yes, he was definitely too skinny, but that’s his body type & i doubt he could bulk up. i also didn’t get why they didn’t do the whole Simon-rat angle…hopefully they will fix that in the next movie, like they had to do in Harry Potter & The Half Blood Prince (I think I read somewhere that City of Ashes in the pre-production stage?)

  2. I feel about the same way as you about this movie. My husband actually liked it more than me, but I give it a C-. My favorite character was Simon- someone I don’t even care too much about in the books, so that surprised me. It was just a pretty cheesy movie overall. And I like JRM a lot, but he was just forgettable in this. I’m so glad Pettyfer was not cast at least.

    Fab review!

  3. I haven’t seen this movie yet but I’ve yet to jump on the JCB bandwagon. I just…no. He isn’t my Jace. Nor is Valentine. Like you, I had images of a Malfoy in my mind while reading the books, which is why pictures of Valentine disappoint me. I’m almost afraid to watch the movie now that I know it doesn’t follow the books correctly. (WHY do screenwriters and directors insist on doing this? Why not just make a separate story entirely and leave well enough alone!)

    1. JCB is an acquired taste. 🙂 I definitely didn’t like him in Breaking Dawn, he just looked freaky, but that was the fault of the costume designer.

  4. Haha. I felt the same way completely about JCB when I first found out he was cast, then seeing photos of him in costume. And then when I saw the trailer, I knew he was going to kick ass as Jace. I really thought he did a wonderful job, even if he isn’t particularly attractive in my eyes. His attitude and great job with the character more than makes up for it.

    I also really liked Robert Sheehan. He was sooo great as Simon, and I ended up liking the character Simon more than I did from the books. Also, he’s adorable.

    Everyone else I was pretty much happy with, except Magnus. I mean, I didn’t hate him, and he certainly looks the part, but I wanted Magnus’s larger-than-life personality to show up a bit more. But like you said, he had very little screentime.

    I do agree with you for the most part about Valentine, too. I didn’t like that Jace didn’t recognize him right away as his father.

    As for the plot – I hated the whole lever thing that Simon was trying to pull. I mean, what was up with that? But overall, I was happy. I do wish some things were different – particularly with the story – but I will so be there for the second movie.

  5. I just saw the movie today, and I agree 100%! I came away from the movie inspired to re-read the books, because I remember them being much juicier than the last 1/2 of the movie. There were definitely moments and lines that made me cringe (Hodge, pretty much entirely) or pout (Magnus Bane’s eyes for 1/10th of a second only) but I love that they kept Isabelle’s whip in there, the greenhouse scene, and some of Alec’s reactions to things. But yes, agreed on Valentine being too heavy-handed, instead of persuasive. The shock of the scene in the book where Jace is playing happy families with Valentine was sadly absent.
    Great review!

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