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Movie Review

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of fantasy violence and action, and some suggestive content.

Reviewed by: Charity Bishop
CONTRIBUTOR

Extremely Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Genre:
Action Adventure Mystery Fantasy Romance Drama Adaptation IMAX
Length:
2 hr. 10 min.
Year of Release:
2013
USA Release:
August 21, 2013 (wide—3,000+ theaters)
DVD: December 3, 2013
Copyright, Screen Gems, Sony Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Screen Gems, Sony Pictures Copyright, Screen Gems, Sony Pictures Copyright, Screen Gems, Sony Pictures Copyright, Screen Gems, Sony Pictures Copyright, Screen Gems, Sony Pictures Copyright, Screen Gems, Sony Pictures Copyright, Screen Gems, Sony Pictures Copyright, Screen Gems, Sony Pictures Copyright, Screen Gems, Sony Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Screen Gems, Sony Pictures

demons in the Bible

Satan / Devil

Is Satan a real person that influences our world today? Is he affecting you? Answer

DEMON POSSESSSION and Influence—Can Christians be demon possessed? In what ways can Satan and his demons influence believers? Answer


angels in the Bible

What else does the Bible teach about angels? Answer


About Paganism

What is the Occult? Answer

THE OCCULT—What does the Bible say about it? Answer

MYSTICISM—Does it lead to God? Answer


Teen Qs—Christian Answers® for teenagers
Teens—Have questions? Find answers in our popular TeenQs section. Get answers to your questions about life, dating and much more.

Featuring: Lily CollinsClary
Jamie Campbell Bower … Jace
Kevin Zegers … Alec
Jemima West … Isabelle
Robert Sheehan … Simon
Robert Maillet … Blackwell
Kevin DurandPangborn
Godfrey Gao … Magnus Bane
Lena HeadeyJocelyn
Jonathan Rhys MeyersValentine
more »
Director: Harald Zwart
Producer: Constantin Film Produktion
Don Carmody Productions
more »
Distributor: Screen Gems, Sony Pictures

“There is a hidden world within our own.”

Fans of Cassandra Clare are no stranger to controversy. Beyond the themes of witchcraft, homosexuality, and incest crammed into her bestselling YA book series, accusations of plagiarism followed her into the publishing world. This big-screen adaptation of the first book in The Mortal Instruments series changes a few things from the novel.

For the most part, Clary (Lily Collins) lives an ordinary life. Her hobby is sketching, and she spends most of her summer free time with her best friend Simon (Robert Sheehan). One evening after attending a poetry reading, they enter a nightclub, where a man is murdered in front of her very eyes! Except… no one else saw it happen!

Within twenty-four hours of this event, Clary’s world is turned upside-down. The young man responsible for the murder turns up outside her favorite coffee shop. Her mother goes missing. And Clary discovers there’s more to life than she first thought. The “murderer” is actually Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower), a member of a group known as the “Shadowhunters.” Along with his friends Alec (Keven Zegers) and Isabelle (Jemima West), Jace hunts down and dispatches demons in human form.

As “everything she has ever known” changes, Clary finds herself an unwitting pawn in a powerful series of events that bring her face to face with an evil she never imagined.

When the trailer for this film first appeared, I read the book. I was surprised how familiar it felt until I realized the author initially wrote Harry Potter fan-fiction. She made a few changes to her story and sold it as a franchise. The film makes the similarities even more obvious (with some Star Wars and Buffy thrown in for good measure): the pale-haired Jace is Draco Malfoy, “Valentine” the villain is Voldemort, the enormous castle hidden right in the middle of Manhattan is the Shadowhunter version of Hogwarts, and “rune sticks” are in place of wands.

From a cinematic perspective, the first three fourths of this film are strong, as Clary discovers a unique world, and we experience the magic of the unexpected. The cast is surprisingly good, and she’s a likable heroine with a few quirks up her sleeve. But the story fails to establish its villain, and a few throwaway lines about his desire to “purify the Shadow Hunter bloodline” don’t really resonate; we never sense any true evil in him, so why invest emotionally in attempts to destroy him? Much like the book, the pacing of the film is off, and there are times it drags, particularly toward the end.

Spiritually discerning viewers will raise their eyebrows at the pagan, mysticism, and occult elements, which range from tarot card reading to the Shadowhunters being “children of an angel” (through his blood, not as literal flesh descendants) because their ancestors drank his blood. One minor character is a witch. Demons make frequent appearances, often in grotesque ways (they explode out of human bodies and leave a trail of wreckage in their wake). A warlock is consulted, and the Shadowhunters use mystical runes on their bodies to heal injuries, among other things (like slowing down time).

Jace implies that every religion is useful to Shadowhunters, since under each altar is a weapon storage unit (they break into a Catholic church and raid one). He says he doesn’t believe in God, since he’s seen a lot of demons but no angels. The implication is that faith in anything other than oneself is pointless and that all religions are the same.

Aren’t all religions basically the same? Answer

Content-wise, while there isn’t much language (Clary’s mother takes Jesus’ name in vain when startled, and Simon quips, “No, just me!”, and there are a few mild profanities). There is a lot of violence—as much as a PG-13 rating can handle. Demons and vampires are mowed down with flame throwers and snapped in half with mystical whips, when they are not being stabbed and shot; Clary explodes one into a gooey mess in her kitchen (it then starts to “reassemble” itself for round two).

Homosexuality is referenced, usually in positive ways—an openly gay warlock turns up at a party in a suit, shirt, and underwear and leers at Alec. Clary accuses Alec of disliking her because he “loves” Jace but is too cowardly to admit it (she’s right). Isabelle tells her that homosexuality “isn’t encouraged” in their ranks. Clary wears a super short dress for a big chunk of the film. Jace objects to her having Simon in her bedroom (since he’d like to be there).

GAY—What’s wrong with being gay? Answer

What about gays needs to change? Answer
It may not be what you think.

Something is missing in this film that would have given it a spark. It’s a decent start to a franchise but felt a little… well, mundane.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Mild

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive
Positive—I watched the movie opening day, and I loved it, as did many others and nonreaders liked it, too! I was a huge fan before (of the books and then the movie), and I was overjoyed with the cast, and it was amazing! They were faithful and it was well explained, but you know it helps to have a fan there and for people to read the books. But you know it’s kind of sad how some people don’t want to read books, in general. It has a variety of genres and themes (it’s fantasy and young adult) but, action, adventure, humor and romance which is an important aspect…

There’s friendship, love, family, and there’s magic too. I noticed some things are different than the book but they made sense as it was accelerated perhaps to show the bond or the scene order was changed, but it was faithful (okay so Valentine is originally supposed to have blond hair but that’s cool) and they enhanced parts really and added awesome extras bits and the changes were just as awesome as the original or made sense why. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Sarah, age 21
Negative
Negative—…I was dragged into watching this movie, but I did keep an open mind thinking it would have something teachable about it. A girl who can see demons stuck out to me as a fantastic concept; however I would prefer “Constantine” to this muck any day. I did like the characters, but the story was like so so, and really what’s the point? They made hardly any true reference to God as the supreme creator. More like “hey it’s cool to fit in with the way the world thinks.”

My true feeling of this film is that Christians are easily taken to thinking that they should give into the world and not stand firm against the darkness. See the book of Ephesians. I strongly believe in spiritual warfare and that the enemy will use all tactics to suck you in, Hollywood in particular. I felt convicted watching this movie, yes I know it is pretty tame compared to some gruesome films out there, but that did not change how I felt as a Christian and follower of Jesus Christ while watching it (I should have walked out).

The one world religion seems evident in this film, and now our kids are thinking witches, warlocks, and demons are pretty neat stuff. “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” Ephesians 5:11
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Jacob S. Guerra, age 34 (USA)
Negative—It’s very concerning today when Christians like stories that seem to purposely water down the occult and downplay God to the point of nonexistence. Now, I do have to say that I was a fan of Harry Potter and the Twilight series. Those two series have many redeemable qualities, in my opinion, that show morality in a good light and the morality portrayed, in many instances, was a morality based off of godly things. “Mortal Instruments,” however, I didn’t feel had much to redeem it. There were some cool elements, but, overall, it focused on the evil of demons and the antagonist messing with the occult and experimenting to the point of delving too deeply into dark magic without focusing on the goodness of God.

The one angel ever shown is the one who gave men his blood to drink in order to become Shadowhunters, because apparently God and his warrior angels aren’t enough to fight the evils of this world, seeing as how they aren’t even shown. Exactly why is that, I wondered when viewing this film. And speaking the name of Christ Jesus and rebuking demons isn’t enough to keep them at bay, I suppose. You need swords and flame throwers for that. I just didn’t get the point of this film. Shadowhunters take the place of God and His angels and Jace, though supposedly fighting for the good side, believes only in himself. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Amy, age 38 (USA)

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