Name: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013)
IMDb: City of Bones
Genres: Fantasy, YA female, coming of age, romance, comedy
Cast: Lily Collins as Clary, Jamie Campbell Bower as Jace Wayland, Kevin Zegers as Alec Lightwood, Jemima West as Isabelle Lightwood, Robert Sheehan as Simon Lewis, Lena Heady as Jocelyn Fray, Jared Harris as Hodge Starkweather, Aiden Turner as Luke Garroway, Godfrey Gao as Magnus Bane, CCH Pounder as Dorothea, Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Valentine, Kevin Durand as Pangborn, Robert Maillet as Blackwell.
Directed by: Harald Zwart. Written by: Cassandra Clare (book), Marlene King and Jessica Postigo (screenplay).
The Three Acts
The initial tableau: In New York City, young Clary starts having problems. She sees people and things that others cannot. She obsessively draws strange symbols in her room. She gets in trouble with strangers at a club and sees impossible actions. Her friend who is a young man is interested in her in a way that she is not interested in him. To top it all off, unknown forces kidnap her mother and ransack the apartment where the two of them lived.
The delineation of conflicts: Clary discovers that she is a Shadowhunter, a dying breed who have fantastic magical powers, but are fully mortal. That is, they age normally and they die fairly easily. Shadowhunters fight and kill demons as best they can. They get their magic from inheritance (parents were Shadowhunters) or transformation (drinking from the Cup of Raziel). Drinking from the Cup also confers the ability to write runes on one's body; these often yield magical assistance.
Their recruiting has been weak of late since two of the most powerful of their members (Valentine and Jocelyn) have gone off the rails. Valentine consorted with demons to gain their powers. Jocelyn hid the Cup to keep it away from Valentine. Valentine wants the Cup back, and goes to all sorts of foul actions to get it. Clary needs to go from her 'mundane' (ordinary human) state to being the most powerful and inventive of all the Shadowhunters in order to stop Valentine. She's shorted on time, since Valentine and his henchmen move things forward quickly.
Simon is in love with Clary, Clary is in love with Jace, Jace is in love with Clary, but Valentine convinces Jace that he is Clary's sister. Oi. Magnus and Alec might be attracted to one another, but there is so much going on.
The resolution: Well, watch the movie. Many things get resolved, but not all.
One line summary: Reasonable coming of age #fantasy.
a. Cinematography: 8/10 Good looking film. There are plenty of SFX, but not the massive destruction type. Rather, the up close and personal type of SFX, showing the unexpected.
b. Sound: 7/10 Not a hindrance, but not much of a help, either.
c. Acting: 7/10 I liked most of the performances, both from the young crew (particularly Collins, Bower, and West) and the older crew (especially Heady, Harris, Turner, Gao, and Pounder). The triumvirate of villains (Valentine, Pangborn, and Blackwell) was a very effective block of trouble for the young heroes to overcome.
d. Screenplay: 4/10 There seemed to me to be just too much going on. I do not fault the actors, but rather the script/book. For this film, we inherit structure from werewolf, vampire, and warlock lore. We inherit structure from biblical warrior angel lore. But wait! There's more! On top of all the rules and logic already involved, we have the invented Shadowhunters. Much of their baggage is not all that well explained. Where did the portal come from? How did they get all that real estate? How do they keep the real estate when there are so few of them, and none of them work, apparently. Where did the underground group dealing with the dead come from? How are they connected? Anyway, much as I liked the film, I thought it was dreadfully short of reaching sufficiency on exposition. Since there is likely no second film matching the books, explanations will likely remain lacking.
e. Final Rating: Six of ten
Concluding remarks: This is the film version of a six book series written by Cassandra Clare; City of Bones is the first book of The Mortal Instruments series. In 2014, Constantin Films, which owns the film rights to the series, decided not to make a film from the second book. Rather, they are opting for a Mortal Instruments TV series in 2015.