Movie Mini-Review: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

The Mortal Instruments: City of BonesI saw The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones last night, and my one-sentence takeaway is that it’s not a great movie, but it’s a really, really fun one. If you want to know a bit more of what I thought (including some spoilers), read on.

I came to the City of Bones movie as someone who likes the book series but is not a superfan, which I think is generally the situation in which I like adaptations best. I know and like the books well enough to be delighted by watching them come to life – look, it’s the Institute! – but I’m not so invested that many of the changes (which are, after all, necessary in any adaption) bothered me. In general, I will say that I’m not sure the movie made a whole lot of sense – especially to anyone who hadn’t read the books – but I enjoyed it, though the plot definitely suffered for being so condensed. I particularly liked the “magic within the mundane world” mood and the fact that it had a sense of humor about itself rather than being Super Serious Angst all the time.

I thought the cast was mostly good, especially the lead trio, and I really appreciated that Jamie Campbell Bower did such a good job with Jace’s snark rather than making him Generic Hot Fighter Guy. Robert Sheehan was just as hilarious and vulnerable as Simon as I’d hoped he’d be, and Lily Collins pulled off the trick of making Clary come across as a regular girl with flaws who is also very much her own person. (And she and Lena Headey look so alike! It’s amazing!) I thought Kevin Zegers and Godfrey Gao were a bit flat, and the rest of the cast was decent.

The issue I was most curious about was how the movie would handle the incest plotline, and they wound up doing more or less what I expected: They left it in but had Hodge say he thought Valentine was lying about it, and had Clary and Jace themselves doubt whether it was true. This does lessen the impact of the story, but I think it was probably unavoidable on a practical level. If they want audiences to buy into the romance as one of the main hooks of the franchise, that possibility needs to be there at the end of the movie.

Did you see the movie yet? What did you think? And don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a copy of Navigating the Shadow World!

(Disclaimer: I have met Cassandra Clare, author of The Mortal Instruments, on several occasions, and I work for Maureen Johnson, one of her co-authors of The Bane Chronicles, stories set in the Mortal Instruments universe.)