City of Bones Movie Review

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City of Bones is one of the hottest films of 2013. With a combination of fantasy, teen romance and gritty urban setting, it was always going to be popular among young fans of similar series such as Twilight. But City of Bones is far from another film bandwagoning on the success of the Twilight franchise, but a complex and sophisticated movie in its own right.

The film begins with teen Clary Fray seeing a rather peculiar symbol – something that causes her mum and others to worry. Their worry is well founded, for shortly afterwards Clay witnesses a murder while clubbing. Strangely Clary is the only one who appears to have seen the murderer.

Clary’s mother, Jocelyn, has also been kidnapped and leaves a an ominous message for her daughter claiming someone called Valentine is after Clary. Clary then returns home, but is attacked by a demon and only saved when the murderer she saw earlier, Jace Wayland, saves her. Jace tells Clary that he is a Shadowhunter and that the man he murdered in the nightclub was also a demon. He also reveals to Clary that she too is a Shadowhunter and has many powers as of yet unknown to her.

From then on in the plot develops fast with Clary and her geeky friend Simon, along with Shadowhunter Jace, battling demons, using runes, travelling through portals and coming face to face with the High Warlock of Brooklyn. There’s no part of this two hour long film that isn’t fast paced, and some of it might seem a little confusing for those who aren’t versed in the novels by Cassandra Clare which the film is based on. The film works brilliantly if you’re willing to suspend disbelief and engage with the fantasy, but for those seeking explanations of every twist and turn in the plot it might be somewhat disappointing.

Film critics have been somewhat unfair on City of Bones, seeing it as just another Twilight copycat. Many of the reviewers, often middle aged, seem unable to enter the fantasy world inhabited by teenage girls and thus reviewed the film as a cynical exercise in making money on the back of the Twilight craze. While these reviews have correctly pointed out the absurdity of some of the plots and scenes – as well as the sheer number of fantasy creatures, weapons and backdrops – they’ve ignored the fact that it is precisely these elements that are demanded by the film’s target audiences. Those who actually saw the film and rated it afterwards gave overwhelmingly positive feedback, showing how out of touch newspaper film reviewers have become.

Sequels are planned for the film – next up is an adaption of the second book in the series City of Ashes – although a precise date on when the new film will enter production isn’t yet clear. For those who have missed the big theatrical release of the film but still want to catch up in time for City of Ashes, you’ll be pleased to know that you can purchase the book of City of Bones from Dymocks and other retailers.

Sarah Pinkerton

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