11 December 2013

Review of The City of Bones Movie

WARNING: There be spoilers ahead!
This review contains major spoilers for both the book and the movie. You have been warned.

The City of Bones by Cassandra Clare is a pretty good book. It isn’t as good as the Harry Potter series, but it’s better than Twilight. I really liked how Clare took some of the basic ideas from the original Star Wars trilogy, and gave them a few twists. I enjoyed the read.

The movie, of course, is a whole different animal. Now, I know that movies have to be different, but they don’t have to be so different, do they? I mean, it's not even the same story anymore. The basic plot points are there, but it's barely recognizable.

Let’s start with appearances, and get that out of the way. In the book, Clary has bright flame-red hair. In the movie, she has dark auburn hair. Okay, fine. That’s close-ish. But then there’s Jace. In the book, he is described as angelic in appearance. He looks like a Renaissance painting of an angel. The actor they hired to play him in the movie looks nothing like this. He’s not even very handsome, in my opinion. Maybe other viewers would disagree with me, but I was disappointed. At least his hair is the right colour, though.

That's your daughter, creep.
Jace and Valentine are both blond in the book, but Valentine has dark hair in the movie. And he has dreads or braids or something weird in the movie. While Jonathan Rhys-Meyers is a great actor, and could easily be Valentine, the script didn't allow him to do the character justice. The Valentine of the book is more like Lucius Malfoy from the Harry Potter series, while the Valentine of the movie is like a cross between Sirius Black and Barty Crouch Jr, with a hefty dash of Sid Vicious thrown in for good measure. He doesn’t just look different; he’s a completely different character.

Now, we get into the story. In the book, when the Ravener demon attacks Clary in her apartment, she kills it by stuffing Jace’s Sensor down its throat. When Jace arrives, he finds Clary unconscious with the demon’s dead body on top of her. In the movie, Clary doesn’t have Jace’s Sensor, and cannot defeat the demon. She is about to be killed when Jace arrives and stabs it with his seraph blade, killing it and saving her. It’s as if the director said, “She’s a girl! She can’t kill a demon. She needs a man to save her.” Ugh. Oh, and she faints at least twice in the movie. You know, because she’s a girl and girls faint, right? I’m rolling my eyes so hard right now.

In the book, there is a party in Magnus Bane’s apartment where Simon gets turned into a rat and some vampires accidentally take him home, thinking he’s one of their pets or something (yes, they have pet rats). In the movie, Simon never gets turned into a rat, and there is no explanation given why the vampires take him. Viewers who haven’t read the book must be very confused—or they just brush it off as vampires wanting him for some vampiric reason. Who knows?

This is where the movie decides to spoil the second book, which I hadn’t read when I watched it. Simon wakes up after his rescue from the vampires and he no longer needs his glasses. I was reminded strongly of Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker in the first Spider-Man movie. Then Clary finds two little holes on Simon’s shoulder that are just the right size and spacing to have been made by vampire fangs. In the first book, no one suspects that Simon might have been bitten. It isn’t even mentioned in passing. I’m currently reading the second book, and it still hasn’t been mentioned, though it probably will come up soon. Thanks a lot, movie makers.

In the book, Clary doesn’t find out that Valentine is her father and Jace is her brother until nearly the very end. In the movie, Valentine tells her he is her father the first time they meet—and it’s rather anti-climactic too. He gets in her face and says, “You’re my daughter.” She doesn’t want to believe him, but it’s no Darth Vader moment.

I loved Luke in both the book and the movie, though the movie didn’t give him enough screentime. The movie also didn’t really make it clear that he used to be a Shadowhunter and his real name is Lucian Graymark. He’s almost a mixture of Harry Potter’s Severus Snape and Remus Lupin, combining the best traits of the two. He was by far my favourite character in the movie. I think he’s the one thing the movie actually got right.

As a rule, the book is usually better than the movie. But sometimes, the movie is pretty good, as in the case of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. However, this is not one of those cases. This movie is a pretty sad attempt at putting this story onscreen. The book is better.

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