Clary Fray is starting to see horrific images of people being killed that no-one else can see. She meets a mysterious stranger called Jace Wayland who tells her that, like him, she is a ‘Shadowhunter’; a half human, half angel warrior who fights against the demons that walk the Earth. When her mother is kidnapped by someone seeking the Mortal Cup, Clary must find the Cup before anyone else. However, with everyone around her seeming to have their own agenda, Clary is unable to trust both old and new friends which proves to be very difficult when her feelings for Jace start to become stronger.
The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones (2013) – Director: Harald Zwart
Running Length: 130 mins
Starring: Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Genre: Horror, Romance, Fantasy
Based on the first book of ‘The Mortal Instruments’ series by Cassandra Clare, ‘The Moral Instruments: City Of Bones’ is best described as young adult paranormal romance. This is a genre which has become extremely popular recently, particularly since the phenomenon that was ‘The Twilight Saga’ proved that the genre was (at the time) somewhat of an untapped market. Unfortunately the slew of ‘Twilight’ wannabes has meant that the market is now saturated and a lot of movies are being churned out without a great deal of thought behind them. Sadly, ‘The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones’ is one of these movies which had a great deal of promise but fails to deliver.
The acting is fine and Lily Collins as the lead, Clary Fray, is very likeable. The main problem with this movie is that it suffers greatly from being an adaptation. There are a huge amount of plot threads that go nowhere and so many unanswered questions meaning that you leave the film much more confused than when you started! It can only be hoped that the next instalment, ‘City Of Ashes’ (which is due for release in 2014) will provide the answers that this movie failed to give. While it has its flaws, ‘City Of Bones’ isn’t actually a bad film. The action sequences are great and the effects of the demons are very effective, it’s just a shame that a more cohesive story didn’t allow this movie to be as good as it could have been.
Overall ‘The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones’ is a very entertaining movie. The first half is strong, however once the character of Valentine is introduced, the good build up that has been enjoyed up to this point seems to fall by the wayside and the story fly off into inadequately explored tangents, but despite this it is still very enjoyable to watch and provides a lot of bang for your buck.
IS ‘THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?
Early in the movie, Clary and her friend, Simon, visit a nightclub. While there, a young man is attacked by three people. One of the attackers is a woman who has a silver bracelet which is in the shape of a snake. The snake comes to life and the woman whips it around the man’s neck, another man helps the woman to hold him and the third attacker uses a sword to slash the man’s neck. The wound is seen on camera but from a distance and is not gory.
Not long after, Clary’s mother, Jocelyn (played by Lena Headey) is attacked in her home by two large men. She nervously approaches the front door but is then thrown backwards when they knock it down. One of the men carries a long stick with a large knife at one end and slams the knife into the floor, right next to Jocelyn’s head. A fight then ensues and Jocelyn is able to separate the two men so she can fight them one at a time. One falls to the floor and she slams the fridge door against his head several times. She then locks herself in the bathroom and, whilst one of the attackers attempts to break down the door with his bladed weapon, she drinks a potion which causes her to lose consciousness.
When Clary returns home, her mother has been taken by the two men and the apartment has been ransacked. A large Rottweiler dog stands in front of her, growling. It chases her around the apartment and soon reveals itself as a demon when its head splits open, which is shown in quite graphic close-up. It continues to chase Clary and looks like it has turned itself inside out but has long tentacle like arms which reach out, trying to grab her. Clary turns the gas on the oven and lights it and the dog yelps briefly before being blown up. After a few seconds, Clary realises that the dog isn’t dead as it starts to re-form. It quickly becomes whole again and attacks even more aggressively than before but is stopped when Jace stabs it with a sword, causing the dog to vaporise.
After this, Clary and Jace attempt to find Luke (Jocelyn’s companion) who has not been answering any phone calls. They visit his store and discover that he has been tied to a chair and is being interrogated by the two men who attacked Jocelyn. The beat him badly and one of the men, wants him to show his true form and asks Luke whether he wants to hump his leg; while saying this, the man humps Luke’s leg. Jace then intervenes and throws a bear trap on to the other man’s arm; the man shouts in pain but no blood is seen. When they get to the front door, a cop is looking through the window; however it is revealed that he is a demon when his eyes roll back in his head so that they become pure white. Jace fights him and the other cop accompanying him (who is also a demon) and kills them both, again no blood or gore is seen.
Several times in the film the shadowhunters are shown to tattoo themselves. This is done with a magical impliment that burns the image into the skin. Tattoos of certain shapes give the shadowhunters extra powers in their fight against demons, but we mention this because it could be seen as glamourising both tattooing and self-mutiliation, although we personally feel that this is unlikely as the moments are clear in the magical context shown.
When Clary, Simon, Jace and the other Shadowhunters, Alec and Isabelle, go to visit a Warlock named Magnus Bane, Clary is told to wear a very short dress. She is clearly uncomfortable in such revealing clothes and likens herself to ‘a hooker’. When they get there, it is like a nightclub and Bane (who is wearing a shirt and a pair of very tiny shorts) is revealed to be gay when he expresses an interest in Alec, who has previously been revealed to also be gay and in love with Jace.
Simon is kidnapped and when Clary and the others go to rescue him, they are attacked by dozens of vampires. During one glance upwards we can see hundreds of vampires swarming, walking upside down on the roof. Unaware of this, Clary and the others walk around the vampires’ lair. One vampire steps out from the shadows, he is very scary and has white eyes and he steps back into the shadows. This isn’t seen by the shadowhunters. The tension in this scene builds up and becomes quite intense, especially when screams can be heard in the distance; however the ensuing fight is quite tame although it is exciting and well choreographed.
Towards the end of the movie, demons are summoned; they have the outline of a person but are made of what looks like black rock with fiery lava inside. They attack several people by dragging them away, screaming. One person is stabbed through the back with claws from a demon and they are seen to come through his chest. This character’s friend cries out in distress when he sees this happen.
CAN I SEE A CLIP?
‘The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones’ is bound to appeal to its target audience of teenage girls due to the believable chemistry and romance between Clary and Jace (who are both likeable characters) and the horror elements and exciting action sequences are also going to appeal to teenage boys. However the plot holes stop this movie from being open to a wider, more mature audience and although it is watchable, it isn’t a film for anyone who will want answers to the many questions that are raised.
We feel that due to the horror aspects of this film and scary look of the demons, this movie is likely to be too frightening for most children under 9. We also recommend caution for sensitive children aged 9 to 11, depending on temperament.
- Violence: 3/5 (most of the action sequences are exciting but quite tame and very little blood is seen. Children who are sensitive to the idea of a home being invaded may struggle with the scene where Jocelyn is attacked as this happens within a supposedly safe environment)
- Emotional Distress: 2/5 (Clary is worried about the safety of her mother for the majority of the movie. A major character is badly injured and it is uncertain whether they will live or die for most of the final third of the film)
- Fear Factor: 4/5 (the look of the demons is very scary, they have white eyes and stare intently at their prey. One of these demons takes the form of a little girl; and, having the same look as the others, this is particularly frightening on a small child. There is another type of supernatural being which takes the form of tall, hooded figures. They have black holes where their eyes should be and their mouths are sewn shut. They speak in deep, echoey voices without using their mouths)
- Sexual Content: 2/5 (mostly innocent teen romance with some kissing. One scene makes several mentions of a girl having a man in her bed although this does not relate to an actual sexual encounter)
- Bad Language: 1/5 (some cursing and blasphemy)
- Dialogue: 2/5 (one character talks about how, as a boy, his father gave him a falcon as a gift. After disobeying his father’s instructions on how to train the bird which the boy felt to be cruel, his father broke the bird’s neck as he said that this treatment had ruined it)
- Other notes: Deals with themes of teen romance, fighting against evil, protecting the people you care about, supernatural beings such as angels, demons, vampires and werewolves as well as symbolism which could be likened to witchcraft and the occult.
- There is a flashback scene where it is explained that a character injects demon blood into their body. In order to do this, they use a tourniquet which they tighten using their mouth; this has the effect of looking like he is taking something like heroin.
- Considering the central importance to the plot of tattoos, there may be a risk of encouraging tattooing in this film
Words by Laura Record