As the cinematic version of City of Bones hits theaters this week, Redeemedreader is covering it from two generational points of view: 1) Janie Cheaney, our matriarch, covered the book earlier this week with her post, Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. She includes not only a critique of this story, but a look at some of the flaws of the genre; and 2) Hayley Schoeppler (that’s me!), RR’s youngest staff member, here gives a report on the movie this week.
If you’re looking for wisdom on how to talk to your kids about City of Bones, as well as info on whether the series is a good fit for your family, we hope both of these posts will help!
Everything you’ve heard . . . about monsters, about nightmares, legends whispered around campfires. All the stories are true.
In this urban fantasy tale, adapted from the bestselling Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, the entire life our heroine Clary Fray has been living is a lie. It’s an exciting premise for a movie and in terms of drama at least, one that City of Bones does not falter in delivering.
Clary Fray, played brilliantly by Lily Collins, learns early on that she is a shadowhunter. Shadowhunters can see beyond the mundane world, and it is their job to fight and kill demons.
But shadowhunters are a dying breed, their fate linked to the Mortal Cup –a chalice hidden by Clary’s mother. Clary, it turns out, is key to finding the Mortal Cup and saving the shadowhunters, but she isn’t the only one seeking it. And as she joins her new shadowhunter friends, they will have to face a host of evil demons to find the Cup and save their kind.
This adaptation of City of Bones is surprisingly well-crafted, considering the problems with the book. The character interplay is well-done and as such, the stereotypical love triangle actually seems plausible. With a PG-13 rating, the action scenes are intense, and the bad guys–demons–are grotesquely scary. The opening action sequence alone is repulsive to the point of disturbing. This is not a movie for young children, but it may not be harmful for a discerning, older teenager. But purely in terms of drama, City of Bones does succeed in engaging the viewer.
As for cautions, the morality of this movie is sketchy to say the least. I noticed some profanity used among characters, and at least once Clary swears. The constant banter between characters is often sexual in nature, and a minor character turns out to be homosexual. (Again, not a movie for young children.)
Concerning the characters themselves, Clary is unquestionably good, as is Simon, her best friend and a mundane. However, Jace, a fellow shadowhunter, is brooding yet will take out any demon without blinking. Shadowhunters are engaged in a “a war that can never be won and always fought.” At one point in the movie, Clary asks Jace if he believes in God to which he replies that in the fight against demons, “Shadowhunters cleave to no single religion, and in turn all religions assist us in our battle.”
That might work for Jace in his fictional world, but it doesn’t work that way in the real world. We know demons and dark powers are real, and City of Bones dabbles in a darkness that should not be taken lightly.
City of Bones ends well, with a promise of sequels to come. It also ends with questions that will undoubtedly send viewers off to read the original series to find out more.
And that’s where I think they will be most disappointed. Disappointed by a petulant, whining Clary. Disappointed by vulgar language and flippant sexual references. Disappointed by a rather convoluted story with stilted language. And for once I must say something that I hardly ever say: the movie is better than the book.
You can read more of Hayley’s reviews in Sea of Monsters: Movie Review, as well as Hattie Ever After: A Review. She’s preparing a number of YA reviews for us for the fall, as well, so be sure to check back in the coming weeks for that.