Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
Home Up Feedback Contents Search

Mortal Instruments: City of Bones



I am all for the current trend that encourages young people to read. But my wife and read well beyond our grade level and passed on this love of literature to our daughter, the one reservation I hold for the current implementation is the over dependence on blending the supernatural and romance. While fully acceptable as a spice I hesitate to condone it as a main course. Between Harry Potter and Twilight magic and supernatural beings abound drawing teens and younger kids into the marvelous worlds a nook can offer. It should come as no surprise that the wild popularity would result in movies offering a different means to express the stories. The trend continues unabated in all the above sited aspects with the ‘The Mortal Instruments’ series by Cassandra Clare. Unlike the two franchises cited above this one adopts a different setting that potentially will provide a string connection with its targeted audience, an urban environment. Rather than taking place in the Great American Northwest or the rustic English country side the primary locale employed here is New York City.

Clary Fray (Lily Collins) is a young woman living in New York City. Like many young people Clary enjoys kicking back in the evening frequently going to a popular night club, the Pandemonium. One night Clary witnesses events that would drastically alter the course of her life. Shocked, she witnesses a group of teenagers; Luke Garroway (Jamie Campbell Bower), Isabelle Lightwood (Jemima West), and Alec Lightwood (Kevin Zegers), were battling an unworldly creature, a demon that had entered the night chub. If watching these events unfold wasn’t disturbing enough the foundation of her life was soon to be shattered. With a supernatural battle against a demonic being going on Clary appears to be the only one capable of seining it. Afterwards Clary confronts the group learning they are called Shadowhunters. They are humans from bloodlines established and mingled with angelic blood. This confers the super natural abilities necessary to fulfill their raison d'ętr, to secretly protect mankind from these servants of pure evil.

When her mother Jocelyn (Lena Headey) goes missing Clary begins to put some of the pieces together. Investigating the disappearance pulls Clary into the sphere of influence of the Shadowhunters. It also quickly becomes rather evident that there is a palpable chemistry between Clary and Jace Wayland. It turns out that her mother had been kidnapped by a pair of henchmen; Emil Pangborn (Kevin Durand) and Samuel Blackwell (Robert Maillet). Before beining taken Jocelyn manages to leave a warning to her daughter that someone named Valentine ((Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is hunting her. Mom then drinks a potion that induced a comatose state. When Clary is attacked by a demon she is rescued by Jace. The typical problem inherent in requiring a supernatural ability to discern the true form of an evil being turns into a significant plot point. Although Clary could observe the demonic form to others the scene was very different. Regular people witnessed Jace murdering another man. At this juncture Clary is informed that her mother belongs to the Shadowhunters. Since it is a fraternal organization conveyed throughout the generations through carefully established bloodlines Clary is one of the Shadowhunters and supernatural abilities her birthright. Besides being to perceive the true form of demonic beings she discovers she is exceptional at interpreting ruins. There is usually some mystic object critical the fulfillment of evil’s nefarious plot to control the world and the forces of goodness are sworn to protect with their lives. In this eternal conflict that object is the Mortal Cup. The one possessing it would have control over Shadowhunters and demons. Valentine Morgenstern is dedicated to obtaining it consolidating the power. As it turns out Valentine is a former Shadowhunter who betrayed the most powerful demonic groups, the Nephilim. In a plot contrivance necessary to extend the story into a full blown franchise and explain the enigmatic title the Mortal cup is one of three objects; the Mortal instruments that were initially bestowed upon the Shadowhunters by the Angel, Raziel. They granted the humans with abilities turning them into the human-angel hybrids capable of battling the forces of evil.

Clary is brought to the current headquarters of the Shadowhunters, the Institute where she is formerly introduced to the other combatants that night at the club. She also gets to meet their leader; Hodge Starkweather (Jared Harris).it is determined that crucial information is locked away in Clary’s mind. In order to help her retrieve it she is brought to Brother Jeremiah (Stephen R. Hart), member of the Silent Brothers, a mystical order associated with the Shadowhunters. Upon probing her mind he uncovers a sinister association with Magnus Bane (Godfrey Gao), an extremely powerful and evil warlock who has tampered with the mind of the young woman.

This is an example of a movie that tends to better received with fans than critics. Predominantly the cause of such a split lies in the opening chapters in the extended story used as the basis of an epic franchise, there is just so much exposition and character background to cover unless the story teller is amazingly gifted it is prone to come across as pedantic. It is necessary to create an entire mythical universe lying just beneath the real world. Often real world symbolism and the mythos required to support the epic story needs an inordinate amount of time to explain that is it acts like an anchor dragging this segment of the overall tale down. This is the eternal conundrum of the origin story. Any comic book fan will quickly tell you that how things came to came about can damper the momentum.

In this instance ‘City of Bones’ is the first installment in a series of considerable length. While placing this much exposition in a novel is acceptable when migrated over to the screen it has to be carefully paced entwining it carefully so as to keep the viewer interested. The director, Harald Zwart seems to have more experience with sequels including ‘Long Flat Balls II’ and ‘The Pink Panther 2’, albeit mixed in with some standalone flicks. He is slated for the next offering in the series ‘City of Ashes’. Once the weight of all this necessary explanation is in his rear view mirror I am certain it will come across better. This is why the fans have been more accepting is that they are watching something already familiar coming to life. As it stands there is a significant amount of potential expressed here that still shines through. Since I approached this as a fan, not of the specific franchise but the genre and from that perspective I did enjoy the film despite a shaky start.

Bringing Them To Life: Filmmakers And Cast Discuss The Characters Of The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones
Descendants Of The Cup: A Look At The Stunts And The Cast's Transformation Into Shadowhunters
Deleted Scenes
Music Video: "Almost Is Never Enough" By Ariana Grande Ft. Nathan Sykes
Interactive Lineage Tracker
Deadly Attraction: Lily Collins & Jamie Campbell Bower On Their Roles As Clary Fray & Jace Wayland
Entering The Shadow World: Creating The Extraordinary Creatures Of The Shadow World
Into The Shadows: From Book To Screen

Posted 12/02/2013

Thanks to everyone visiting this site.

Send email to with questions or comments about this web site.
Copyright © 1999-2019 Home Theater Info