12: The Magical Schlumpifying Powers of “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones”

Is The Mortal Instruments the worst movie I’ve ever seen? I texted my best friend last night after leaving the theater. #signspointtoyes.

After a long, less-than-stellar few weeks, a friend and I took the gift of a Labor Day-weekend early release and caught the matinee hoping to have a mock-and-giggle and pass a few hours not thinking about work, or bills, etc. She enjoyed it more than I did, because she wasn’t expecting much, and at least got a laugh. I got laughs too, believe me, but while nothing in Cassie Clare’s writing engendered any good will in me, the cast definitely did. Secretly, I was hoping for better.

I was disappointed.

Robert Sheehan is a delight, Aidan Turner‘s turn as Mitchell on the BBC’s Being Human is probably not what most folks know him from, but is definitely where I was first charmed, and Jonathan Rhys Meyers, well. Listen, I can’t speak for anyone else, but when he first jogged across the screen as Joe in 2002’s Bend It Like Beckham, I was hooked.

If you’ve ever held that guy in any sort of regard, do yourself a favor and do not see this movie. His haircut alone is the stuff of nightmares.

I know what you’re thinking. But what about the actual movie, Marianna? Hair isn’t everything.

You’re right, you’re right. Hair isn’t everything, but it’s also so bad in this film that it’s almost a secondary character. Aidan Turner looks like he got into some fun with smelling salts and accidentally knocked some bleach over onto just one single tuft of his lovely dark curls, but that is nothing on Jamie Campbell Bower, who looks as if he’s two minutes past a terrible run-in with a rake. The less said about Rhys Meyers and his stapled on braids, the better.

Lily Collins, of course, is resplendent as always; her long, brownish, auburn curls floating beautifully and framing her apple-round cheeks as she gasps and groans and simpers throughout the streets of Brooklyn, nary a strand out of place. I’m kidding, but only sort of. Lily Collins is really pleasant to look at. Last year’s Mirror, Mirror was a film I actually really enjoyed watching, despite its panning by the critics, because the sets and costume designs were magnificent, sure, but also because Lily Collins is so pretty. It’s hard to be mad when looking at somebody that striking, and to be honest, despite his unfortunate buffoonery, Armie Hammer made up for a lot too.

Unfortunately, the problems with The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones don’t begin and end with hair care. As a person obsessed with writing, dialogue and scene construction, I can tell you with absolute certainty that things happened in this movie that I just didn’t get. Threads were begun that had no resolution, actions had no retribution, and at its base level, it felt as though the film had no stakes.

Who cares if Valentine gets the Cup? Why is he in cahoots with the demon-birds? How can Clary and Jase already be in love with they’ve known each other all of two days, and why does every line from the secondary characters sound like it’s done through terribly placed ADR?!? …oh wait, that last one might just have been me.

The pluses are few, but they should be mentioned too. Despite the near-constant buoyancy of her bouncing curls, the film wasn’t afraid to show Lilly Collins’ Clary looking like an absolute wreck. She got wet, she got dirty, she was bloodied. I always appreciate a movie that isn’t afraid to dirty up its cast of gorgeous twenty-somethings, especially considering fighting a nonsensical war between bird-masquerading demons and vampires must be an exhausting endeavor.

The Brooklyn apartment she shared with the little-used, but always wonderful Lena Headey was also lovely and genuinely convincing as the home of a down-on-her-luck artist and her of-some-age-probably-late-teens…right? daughter. I don’t know about you, but I always get taken out of a scene when the house/apartment/hovel a character is living in doesn’t sync up with their surroundings. Maybe it’s just me, but I appreciated the fact that it was small.

Honestly, though, despite the gorgeous twenty-somethings and the decent cinematography, this movie isn’t worth your money or your time. I sacrificed two hours to give you this message: All of these folks have been in much better. Go check them out in that.

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2 thoughts on “12: The Magical Schlumpifying Powers of “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones”

  1. I got into a hell of a fight the other day with a coworker who didn’t believe me when I said that I had no interest in seeing this movie. It was one of the more surreal things I’ve ever experienced.

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