City of Bones tells the story of Clary Fray (played by Lily Collins and her ridiculously huge eyebrows), a normal 15-year-old girl who finds out that she isn’t normal at all. She and her nerdy best friend Simon get pulled into a supernatural subculture in NYC that features things like angels, demons, werewolves, and vampires. Yes, all of the stuff that is super popular in young adult fiction these days.
Unlike a lot of YA fiction I’ve read lately, and unlike movies like Twilight, Clary is not an empty shell with no personality. She’s strong and stubborn, and likely one of the best female protagonists to show up in a supernatural romance film. Clary is very obviously in over her head, but her love of family and loyalty to her friends keeps her going.
I think the thing that works best about this movie is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously, despite the fact that some of the scenes in the film come off as ridiculously over-dramatic. It’s hard to fit a lot of character development into a movie based on a 500+ page book, but we can see that each of the characters in the film have their own distinct personalities; and, if like me, you’ve read the books, it’s a treat to see some characters like Simon and Isabelle so perfectly cast. The special effects are also really well done, and visually, the film is a treat.
That’s not to say that City of Bones is perfect. Some of the acting is downright stiff and terrible (I’m looking at you, Godfrey Gao). The music is often over the top — and there are definitely a few romantic moments that are cringe-worthy because of just how cheesy they are. There is a kissing scene that involves sprinklers coming on mid-kiss that made my eyes do loop-de-loops as I rolled them. Still, like I said, the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it has a lot of elements that are worth enjoying if you can get past the bad parts. And if you can’t get past the bad parts, well, they’re so bad that they’re hilarious, so that kind of helps anyway.
Last week, Rin reviewed The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones in much more detail and depth than I have here, and she had quite a bone to pick with the film — pun intended. Dan and I went to see City of Bones over Labor Day weekend, and I’ve come to the conclusion that both of us enjoyed the film much more than Rin did. In fact, if Dan is any indication, you don’t need to read the books at all to enjoy this film.
Rin’s review warns that if you are in the process of reading The Mortal Instruments novels by Cassandra Clare, and haven’t finished them, you shouldn’t watch the movie. I’ll agree with this as some parts of the movie are definitely spoilers for later books. However, if you’ve read all the books — or haven’t read any of them — head out to the theaters and give this movie a go. It’s worth at least matinee ticket prices.
Rin’s biggest problem with the film is a conversation between two of the characters that reveals vital information concerning the heroine, Clary Fray, and her love interest, Jace Wayland. As far as the books go, yes, this is a huge spoiler — but when it comes to movie adaptations, I can completely understand why they chose to let the moviegoer in on the secret, making it so that the truth is only hidden from the characters and not the viewers. The problem is that the revelation deals with an idea that is very taboo; you can already tell that producers want this series to be “the next Twilight,” and you can’t build a supernatural romance movie series on such a taboo idea — and I’m not talking about “taboo” like, “Oh, this girl with no personality is in love with a sparkly-warkly vampire.” I’m talking something so taboo that it’s illegal in all 50 States.
The film strays quite a bit from the book, but I don’t really see the problem with this. Movies and books are two very different creatures, and you can’t expect everything that works so perfectly in written form to translate to film. The above mentioned book-spoiler included. If you’re into supernatural romance, or just love supernatural stories and don’t mind the romance, this film is right up your alley. B-.