“The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” is following in the path of “The Twilight Saga” in at least one way: movie critics are not fans of it. Reviews released on the film’s opening day only earned the adaptation a piddling 17 percent rotten on Rotten Tomatoes, which is a pretty low score.
The general consensus from critics is that “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” is incredibly overstuffed and confusing due to the complicated mythology presented in the Cassandra Clare novel it’s based on. “The story has a lot of ground to cover with a deep, albeit nonsensical, internal mythos that must be explained quickly. Right up to the last, the film is still setting things up,” The Los Angeles Times’ Mark Olsen writes.
Due to that, “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” is said to feel complicated, confusing and completely derivative. In reviews, the movie is constantly compared to “Harry Potter,” “The Twilight Saga,” “The Hunger Games,” “Star Wars,” “Constantine” and even “Avatar.” It never seems to set itself apart from the pack, either.
“You almost never get that feeling of specific gravity, of commitment to the universe, that was present even in the most extreme dumba** moments of the ‘Twilight’ and ‘Potter’ movies,” Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir writes. “I imagine fans of Clare’s books will find this movie largely satisfactory, but it’s distinctly a rush job, an almost random collection of sexy-supernatural teen signifiers aimed at squeezing the penultimate dollars out of a declining trend.”
“The Mortal Instruments: City of Ashes” is slated to begin production on Sept. 23 for a 2014 release, so have no doubt that the cliffhangers in “City of Bones” will be resolved. The New York Times’ Jeannette Catsoulis complains, “Too much of the film feels like shorthand, a trail of teasing crumbs to lead us to the inevitable sequels.” All that would be fine if the film remained interesting, but The Village Voice’s John Oursler says the movie played “onscreen as an endless parade of derivative genre tropes, even tedious and convoluted when it dares to break the formula.”
The bottom line? If you’re a fan of Clare’s “The Mortal Instruments” books, you’ll enjoy their first film adaptation because you’ll know what’s going on and what makes the series special. But for the rest of you uninitiated, the movie will likely end up looking like a knockoff of everything else in the young adult adaptation world.