Movie Review: “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones”

OVERALL: Better than I thought it would be and could have been so much better than it was with just a bit of tweaking from director.

POINTS: It’s a pretty and fun movie with a cool idea behind it. Some people are part angel and can fight demons. Cool.

PITFALLS:   Most of the pitfalls are cultural so I will put those below. The big pitfall that I think is really hurting this movie is the space in between the acting beats. Another way to say this is that the pauses in between the characters’ dialogue is way tooo long! In fact there really shouldn’t be pauses in between the characters’ dialogue. The pauses that they use make the actors look like they are in a high school play pausing for dramatic effect. Oh knock that nonsense off. You are all professionals here and therefore should act like it. Seriously I think if the pauses had been eliminated the movie would have been a lot better.     

FEMALE CHARACTER(S): Yup, they were there. First of course we have our heroine Clary. I love the fact that the movie shows a young woman discovering her power. But then well, like a lot of these stories, it backslides. First we have to have a love interest. Or in this case two boys in love with her. Yawn. Why does that have to happen? What is bothersome about that in this story is that the love bit is so important to Clary. (Please don’t compare to Katniss, I’ll go nuts and one day explain why.)  We are shown teen love between Clary and newly found Jace and it is played as True Love. Oh good grief. They’re teenagers. I’ll believe it when they are 30.

Plus our heroine Clary, though adorably played by Lily Collins, needed a few things. Although she had moments when she defended herself and help defend and save others, she spent a lot of the movie with her mouth open in surprise. It made her look too weak. You just don’t get the sense that Clary is or will become a true badass and that held the movie back for me. She still seemed to be a pawn being used or ignored by others and that feels very sexist. I shall have to write more about this issue later.

We shall now look at the character of Isabelle played by Jemima West. Although I loved her power I am so tired of a woman in a group of men looking at a new women with suspicion and negativity. Granted in this movie it has nothing to do with romance – thank goodness – but I was still unhappy that they had to have this old trope in there. Then again Isabelle and her brother were dealing with Jace’s desire for Clary clouding his rationality, or so they thought, so I can see why they were not happy with Clary – at first.

Finally, Jocelyn played by Lena Headey. The problem with her character is that we didn’t get enough of her. I wanted more. 🙂 Can she have her own series please? 😉      


  • Racism? Well see there was a black woman who was a witch. I so thought from the previews that she was part of the good guys group and I was so looking forward to watching her. I really love the actress CCH Pounder, so does Hubby, and I was looking forward to her role in the movie. However she was a witch and due to the sneer from our hero that seemed to be a bad thing. Then of course she went bad and it was discovered she was really a demon. Oh bother. See there weren’t other black people in the movie with speaking roles – at least none that I could see – and that is cringe-worthy. And backward. The movie had some redemption in that an Asian man was a second string character and helped the heroes. But still our heroes were pale white people and oh good grief.
  • Witch-Bashing. I get really tired of this. Witch-bashing is really tied with our deep cultural roots in misogyny and religious intolerance. Unfortunately in this movie, the only witch was a bad character and that bothered me. A lot.
  • Our Heroine & The Other Women. See Female Character(s) above.

HIGH POINT(S): 1. Werewolves to the rescue! 2. Lena Headey. 3. Beautiful scenery and sets. 4. Good one-liners. 5. Support for gay people. 🙂 YAY!!!   

BECHDEL TEST (Website): As of the writing of this post, there was nothing posted on the Bechdel test site. So I will give it a 3 out of 3, albeit a weak one. Mom and daughter talk briefly and not always about a boy.

IMDB: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013)

OFFICIAL MOVIE WEBSITE: The Mortal Instruments | Official Movie Site


 LION PAW PRINTS:  3 of 5.

IN ADDITION: This article from The Mary Sue, The Mortal Instruments Trilogy Put On Hiatus Following City of Bones‘ Financial Failure talks about the future, or rather, lack of future for the movie. If they had just cut the long beats from the scenes I don’t think they would have had this problem. Oh well.


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