I haven’t read any of Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments fantasy series in which the movie was based but I was very excited about this movie when I saw the trailer a while back. I’ve read some very strong reaction from the fans against the casting of British actor Jamie Campbell Bower as the mysterious Shadowhunter Jace Wayland but I held my reservations at bay until I actually saw the movie. I, for one, thought he really did a great job.
City of Bones is the movie adaptation of the first book in The Mortal Instruments series and it introduces us to Clary Fray (Lily Collins), a teenage girl who witnesses a murder of a man in a bar called Pandemonum, a murder which only she was able to see. She also begins to randomly draw a symbol which she does not understand. When she encounters the ‘murderer’ in a coffee shop, she tries to demand answers from the mysterious stranger, who turns out to be the Shadowhunter Jace Wayland (Jamie Campbell Bower), one of the few warriors who remain to hunt down and destroy demons and other creatures of evil. When Clary’s mom (Lena Headey) goes missing, Jace vows to help her with the support of fellow Shadowhunters Isabelle (Jemina West) and Alec Lightwood (Kevin Zegers).
The City of Bones is a chick flick, plain and simple. While it deals with a lot of elaborate action sequences, leave us not forget that at the end of the day, it caters to young adults who are fans of the book, and mainly shippers of Jace and Clary. While there was a lot of ruckus behind the casting of Jamie Campbell Bower, I think that he brought something different to the character, and this is a good thing because he is a different type of leading man from sensitive pretty boy vampire Edward Cullen from the Twilight franchise (which was played by another British actor, Robert Pattinson. Incidentally, both actors have played a part in the Harry Potter franchise. Bower took on the role of Gellert Grindewald, while Pattinson played Cedric Diggory. Bower also played Caius in Twilight.). Unlike Edward Cullen, Jace is raw and intense, and masks his wounds in a different manner — things that Bower had no problem bringing to the big screen. He just has this cool bad boy vibe and a type of magnetism draws people to him, which makes his leadership as head Shadowhunter make sense. Lily Collins’ Clary, on the other hand, had great chemistry with Jace and the romantic scenes were pretty sweet. It kind of reminded be of a princess and her knight, but of course, Clary will find her footing soon and she will be able to take care of herself. Girl power!
The cinematography for this film was very good and the styling was magnificent, giving the characters and the set a contemporary feel that connects with the younger audience. The monster effects and the CGI were not overdone, making viewers focus on the story and not the effects.
It is often the burden of the first movie of a book franchise to establish the story and frankly, I got a bit worried that there would be a lot of questions that would be left unexplained, especially since each new scene seemed to unveil a new element to the overall franchise. But in the end, the film did a pretty good job of telling the story, and providing sneak peeks into the world of vampires, warlocks, demons, werewolves, witches and whatnot, which will surely be further explored in the next movies.
All in all, I thought that Mortal Instruments: City of Bones was a well made adaptation of a fantasy series. It managed to bring to life the secret world behind New York City, and lifted the veil that separates the magical from the mundanes. One thing I could say, as soon as I got out of the cinema, I was hunting for the books. It seemed though, that a lot of people had the same idea because the bookstore was all out of stock. I, for one, would like to know what happens to Jace and Clary soon and if they continue adapting the following books, count me in.