Review: ‘Mortal Instruments: City of Bones’ – no rattle, no roll

By Meg Murry


“The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” couldn’t seem to decide on which of its predecessors to parrot: “Lord of the Rings,” “Harry Potter” or the “Percy Jackson” series.

In order to maintain visual elements from the audience’s perspective, it takes on all three, and forms a cluster of what was its original narrative.

From the six-novel series by Cassandra Clare, “City of Bones” tells the story of Clary Fray (Lily Collins), a New Yorker entering the hellish phase of being a teenager. However, in Clary’s case, the demonic phase is her life. No matter where she turns, Clary finds herself surrounded by packs of warlocks, vampires, werewolves and demons. Think of “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer,” but in Clary’s case she is “Seer” of all that is supernatural.

After an appropriately staged demon vs. angel fight involving Clary’s mother, Jocelyn (Lena Headey), Clary soon after learns she is a descendant of a long line of “Shadow hunters,” an underground society of angel/hybrid soldiers who protect the world from all demonic forces.

It doesn’t take long for Clary to team up with a group of human and angel hybrids that might as well have come out of the Hogwarts school: There’s best friend Simon (Robert Sheehan), the comedic sidekick; Isabelle (Jemima West), the captivating huntress; Alec (Kevin Zegers), Isabelle’s brute of a brother; and Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower), the Shadow hunter love interest and “golden boy.” Upon their journey, they travel to the alternate New York called Downworld, which is the same New York but 10 times the smell. There, the evil Valentine (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) awaits them.

If “Bones” were to find a tempo, it would probably come from the scenes of “Lord of the Rings,” involving its demon soldiers. The film maintains a brisk pace, bursting effects, and cinematography was a slickly shot film piece. However, director Harald Zwart’s effort in this film falls short of any legitimate to at-the-edge-of-your-seat tension. Slightly over two hours, “Bones” will test the resolve of the audience to stay awake.

One positive in the film is the decision to put female characters in first-rate action scenes. However, “Bones” could not overcome mediocre writing. Although, do not let that discourage you from reading the books. “The Mortal Instruments” are a fit fantasy series — thrillers that tests the bounds of imagination. We are anxious to see what Cassandra Clare has to offer in the future.


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