Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Movie Review--CITY OF BONES


Hey folks,

I actually saw CITY OF BONES in theatres a couple of weeks ago. I made a few notes and then life. Now, here we are.

I’ll start with what worked. This was a decent book-to-movie translation. The actors were good for the characters (Simon in particular). We got to see more of Jocelyn in the beginning, which I loved. I pictured her just lying down and giving up in the book, and that bugged me. The movie shows her kicking butt.

I also liked that Jace was toned down. There were times in the book he really came off as a jerk. And I don’t mean a jerk to the main characters, I mean an overall jerk. He treated people he didn’t even know like crap. His undying love for Clary was also lessened, and I thought it worked better.

The humor translated beautifully. I particularly loved the image of Clary shoving her notebook at no one at the beginning. I recognized lines from the book, and they were delivered as I imagined they would be.

The pacing was good. The action kept moving. The tension was high. The friends I went with who hadn’t read the book said some plot points were kind of obvious, but hey, it happens.

K, now I’m going to say what didn’t work so well. Stay with me if you’d like.

One of the major complaints I heard going into the movie was that it felt like the entire movie crammed into the novel. I kind of have to agree with that. With a few exceptions, very little was left out. Having read the book, I was able to keep up. The overall reaction from my friends who hadn’t read it was “That was a pretty good movie.” *Ask tons of questions* Good movie adaptation. Clearest book-to-movie adaptation, maybe not.

Shadowhunters with British accents. Didn’t see that coming and not sure how I feel about it. It worked for Jace and the older generation, but it completely destroyed Isabel’s character for me. That’s a personal preference thing, though.

The vampires—in the book, Simon turns into a rat, and the vampires steal him. Magnus says this is probably to spite the shadowhunters (which makes sense given the animosity between shadowhunters and downworlders), and Jace and Clary go to save Rat-Simon. Cool.

In the movie, the vampires steal a human Simon? And hang him up-side-down in an elevator shaft? When Jace, Clary, and company find him, Simon tells them the vampires want the Mortal Cup. Why would the vampires want the Mortal Cup? Unless they want to destroy it, but that was never addressed. So I was confused.

The portal—in the book it was at Madam Dorothea’s. In the movie it was at the institute. K, not a big deal. It just changed when/how certain things happened—like Clary porting to Luke’s.

My bigger issue with the portal was its history. It apparently sprouted out of nothing (I recall Jace saying it was rumored that the Institute was the first building in New York because it was built around the portal.) I can get behind that. What I had more trouble with was Jace saying “No one knows how to destroy it.” Then it mystically blows up when Valentine goes through it at the end. Well, that solves that problem?

Side note—Valentine going through the portal. In the book he went by choice. In the movie, Clary punches him. Ok, girl power. But Valentine is a trained shadowhunter, and Clary is able to get the jump on him because he is too busy staring at the shiny, floating ball of light Jace tossed at him? Err…ok?

And now to my biggest issue—Jace and Clary are siblings. In the book, this made sense in how it was presented. Clary, Luke, and Luke’s people rush to the showdown at the O.K. corral (which, in the book, was at some abandoned hospital, not the institute). Clary rushes through the building until she finds Jace. Jace is clothed and calm. When Clary says they need to get out of there because of Valentine, Jace tells her it’s okay because…his father is there. (Cue Valentine’s entrance). Clary is all like “no, that’s Valentine.” Jace is all like “no, that’s Michael Wayland.” Valentine is all like “I pretended to be Michael Wayland, but Jace really is my son. And, Clary, you are my daughter.” Not the happiest family reunion, but it makes sense.

The movie…not so much. Jace finds Valentine in the institute and does his man-challenge thing. Valentine tells Jace he’s his father. Jace says ‘no you are not, Darth Valentine,’ and they beat each other up. Meanwhile, Clary is working her way back to the Institute. She gets there, finds Valentine and Jace, and is told (rather abruptly) that she is Jace’s sister…by Jace.

What happened to Darth Valentine? And why did Jace suddenly believe Valentine was his father after not even recognizing the guy? And why does Clary believe it too? In the book, this scene was plausible. In the movie, it, well, wasn’t.

Side note: Did Jace never see a picture of the original Circle and have Valentine pointed out to him? Neither the book nor movie addresses this.

One final thing. I saw a comment on a review of this movie that said the person who decided to put the song in the greenhouse scene needed a special kind of Hell. Whoever you are, commenter, I agree with you.

Wrap-up—I enjoyed the movie. It kept me interested. Some things could have been handled better, but for what movie is that not the case?

Lastly, a special thank-you to one of the friends I saw this with for entertaining me by “shouting” (movie theatre style) out similarities to other movies as he noticed them.

Thanks for reading.

@desantismt on Twitter

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