Twin Takedown: The Mortal Instruments Movie Review

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Who says all twins have the same opinion? Twin Takedown is a feature at Nawanda Files where my twin and I review the same book. We don't always agree. Spoilers are like landmines in this review. Beware. 

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
Release Date: August 21st, 2013
Actors: Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower
Director: Harald Zwart
Genre: Action, Adventure
Rating: PG-13
Current Location: In Theaters
Rotten Tomatoes: 17% - ROTTEN


When her mother disappears, Clary Fray learns that she descends from a line of warriors who protect our world from demons. She joins forces with others like her and heads into a dangerous alternate New York called Downworld.


Krista: So if you're wondering why this review is being posted so late in the day, we can all thank Sony for that. Apparently they decided not to have midnight showings (at least in my city). Why? I have no idea, but I think it was a bad marketing move. Midnight showings are definitely for fandoms, and the Shadowhunter fandom is plentiful. But alas, the review is here and we're doing it Twin Takedown style.

Becca: A midnight showing actually would have salvaged this film for me. At least, a portion of it. Nothing is better than a good experience at a theater. And when fans come alive, dressed and excited, I'm more pumped for a film. Sadly, that didn't happen with this one. Besides three other girls, we were the only ones in the theater.

Krista: And as far as the book is concerned. We've both have read City of Bones, but that was my first and last novel in the Shadowhunter world. Becca read about half of City of Ashes. Also, it's good to note that I read the book about a year and half ago while Becca read it almost four-five years ago, so the storyline was much fresher in my head.

Becca: I literally only remembered two things. The shocker end. And the rave part at the beginning:

That's it. Nothing else came to mind. So I was watching this pretty fresh.

Krista: Now onto the review!!

Initial Response

Krista: I think for me the best part of the movie had to be the beginning -- before we learn the shadowhunter lore and before the movie turns into a sappy insta-love fest. I was all like...

Seriously. I was nudging Becca's arm with a giddy grin, thinking that the movie wasn't going to be a terrible mess like...well, Beautiful Creatures. the mighty fall. 

Becca: I wasn't as giddy. Beautiful Creatures was pretty bad, so I thought it would take a lot of badness to actually meet that or do worse. And I tried really hard to get past the fact that I'm not the biggest Lily Collins fan or that Jamie Campbell Bower seems horribly miscast for Jace, but it was a hard road ahead. At the beginning, I seriously thought Kristen Stewert would have been a better leading lady. Seriously.

Krista: Ooooooh, That's cold. While the casting wasn't my favorite, I was still holding out hope that it could be salvaged with some great storytelling (I enjoyed the book after all). But something was definitely amiss in this movie.

The Plot/Story

Krista: Here's the crux of this movie. If you haven't read the book you'll absolutely 99.99% of the time come out either scratching your head or just hate it. Why? Because it's so unoriginal and it feels like someone picked out the big action scenes in the book and threw them together.

Becca: Totally agree. The plot pretty much felt been-there-done-that. Percy Jackson was better. And that's saying something because that movie was extremely formulaic.

Krista: Also, it's going to be incredibly confusing for non-readers to see vampires and werewolves and demons. Especially when nothing is really ever explained. Who's good and who's bad? Why are we killing vampires when I thought we'd be killing demons? Based on the movie, you wouldn't really know.

 I think there will also be lots of eye rolling coming out of it (even I did at points -- when I knew the storyline). But the art direction has really made all the supernatural stuff very campy.

Becca: Yep, campy to the max. But it's good to note that I enjoyed the horror elements to the film. The demons were something familiar but something new. And really, they were freaky. There was a scene with a demon dog that was disgusting and vile but I couldn't stop watching. The demon girl was something I've seen before, but really, that never gets old.

Krista: I still think the demons could have been done in a way to make them look original without looking like they belong on a horror set.

And I think we can agree that this book was 2007. When it first came out. But five years later and post-Twilight fever, most people are getting tired of the same-old same-old. Which was why I think that the writers did a huge disservice to the film. They should have kept the Shadowhunter world, sure, but made it able to compete in 2013 world.

Sorry...that gif had to be used one more time ;)

Becca: Again, I agree. This was original back then, but now, it doesn't feel quite as new. The plot seemed a little tired, and I think they could have spiced it up while keeping the world and the relationships the same. It needed something more or else it just felt like another YA action flick where the film is completely subpar to the actually novel.

Krista: Maybe it feels like we're picking on this movie too much. Because I still don't think it failed to the level of Beautiful Creatures. I was prying my eyes open trying to stay awake in that film. But The Mortal Instruments isn't boring. I never felt like it was a long movie -- even though it is hella long. There were times when I was genuinely excited for the upcoming scenes. And the action is great, even if it feels a little disconnected from the characters.

Becca: See, this is where we differ. While it was faster paced than Beautiful Creatures, I was more confused in this film. A couple storylines were never completely wrapped up. What happened to Valentine? What about Alec? I needed more of a conclusion and explanation. I was confused!

A lot of stuff either wasn't explained well enough or wasn't explained at all. And as someone coming in only remembering TWO things about the book -- well, I need more. 

The Acting: Lily Collins as CLARY

Krista: There are so many actors and characters that we're going to break down each one individually. Because if I'm being honest, none of them really went together. It was a hodgepodge of actors acting by themselves. In other words -- no one really connected. So let's start with Clary.

Becca: Clary. Oh, Clary. Lily Collins is not my favorite actress, as I've already expressed. She's almost too emotive to the point where it seems disingenuous. I don't believe her tears or her screams. And I'm not a fan of how she was written into the film. She fainted at least three times. I'm not joking.

Krista: I kinda agree to a point. I think she overly dramatic when she emotes, but I'm hoping some of it was the script. The whole "I'm a human learning about a supernatural world" always makes the MC either look weak or stupid or too fearful for much of the book. You just want to shake them and say 

And that's what happened about the time Clary literally crumbled in the street and started sobbing. But don't get me wrong, she's not as unlikable as KStew in Twilight but I wasn't exactly rooting for her either. 

The Acting: Jamie Campbell Bower as JACE

Becca: I had a hard time liking him. I truly tried. I did. But Cassandra Clare wrote some of the best lines for this character -- I mean, I've never heard better sarcasm in a book. And of course, they used those lines, and I laughed, but I thought that any one else could have hit them the same way Jamie did. He wasn't very expressive and he just didn't look the part. All in all, he was a dud for me. But not as big of a failure as I thought. He was just ho-hum.

Krista: I don't think he was as miscast as you say. Would I have preferred someone else in the role? Sure. But I didn't think JCB completely failed at being Jace. The sarcastic lines were hit pretty well and I remember some great ones directly from the books. I definitely think your wrong here too. Another actor could have easily botched Cassie Clare's lines. The fact that he hit the sarcasm enough to make you laugh is a win.

Becca: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I must still be bitter that they didn't cast someone else. It probably effected the outcome overall.

Krista: But...there was a huge problem with his character....the romance.

Which we have our own section for later in the review.

Becca: Oh, God yes. The romance made the film horrible. Let me say, that I did like three characters which perked my interest, but the romance just kept bringing it down.

Krista: Back to Jace. His character just seemed all over the place. Especially his relationship with Alec. They're supposed to be best friends. But unless Isabelle didn't tell us that, I wouldn't have even guessed it. The characterizations for almost all the characters were just so one-dimensional and awful. It doesn't help that some lines don't hit like they should.

Becca: I wonder if there were just too many characters to deal with. Alec didn't get the screen time he deserved in order to be a good character.

The Acting: Robert Sheehan as SIMON

Yayyyyyy! Someone who I believe actually may have connected on some deeper level. Sheehan does an awesome job, not only with his American accent, but by connecting to the story.

Becca: I completely agree. He was one of my favorites. His love for Clary felt real, and I adored his banter with Jace. He really made the role almost better than his character in the book. 

Krista: Also, he's got some funny "Simon" lines but I think Jace's lines that are directly from the book (thank you, Cassie Clare) definitely steal the show. 

Becca: True, but he held his own. And no one can compare to some of those Jace lines. I mean, they're epic. This line came directly from the book and Jamie nailed it: 
Clary: "...Have you fallen in love with the wrong person yet?' 
Jace: "Unfortunately, my one true love remains myself." 
Clary: "At least you don't have to worry about rejection." 
Jace: "Not necessarily. I turn myself down occasionally, just to keep it interesting."
Krista: Classic.

The Acting: Jemima West as ISABELLE

Krista: Another great role. She's badass, and she's actually my pick for best actor in the movie! 

I mean...come on. How awesome is that?

Becca: Loved her as well. And the connection between Simon and Isabelle was organic. 

The Acting: Kevin Zegers as ALEC

Becca: Eh, we've talked about what happened with his character already. I love Kevin Zegers as an actor, but the script gave him nothing to work with. He was barely there, and his story didn't even get resolved. Talk about a snub. 

Krista: Yeah, this was one of the biggest disappointments because I loved his character so much in the books. But nothing is very deep here and the Parabatai connection between him and Jace isn't even mentioned. 

The Acting: Godfrey Gao as MAGNUS BANE

Krista: When I saw this casting, I thought it was spot on. After watching an interview with Gao, I was aware of his thick accent, but I thought that the movie would have handled it better. Instead, his dialogue seems to be dubbed or at least done in ADR with a very American voice that doesn't fit his character at all. It's almost like some vocal audiobook person came in and did it. 

Becca: His voice needed to be deeper OR they should have made him talk in his thick accent and put words on the bottom of the screen. That would have been less distracting than the boy voice. 

Krista: Normally that wouldn't be a problem, but I do think it takes away from his character a lot

The Acting: Jonathan Rhys Meyers as VALENTINE

Krista: Whoever did hair for this film should be fired. He's got braided clips in! Seriously. It distracted me. 

I also think Meyers is a fantastic actor, and I was genuinely scared of him (though I would have been more scared minus his ponytail) but I think sometimes he was too dramatic. Like he was acting in a different movie. It was so over the top. 

Becca: He was the best actor by far, and I wasn't scared for any of the characters until he came in. He did a good job at being the Big Bad, and I wished that every scene had him in it. I disagree, I don't think he was too dramatic. He was believable in the world that they were set in. I could have done without his David Bowie hair as well.

Krista: Jace was definitely the one with David Bowie hair. Example A: 

Example B:

I rest my case...kind of. It's hard to find a good gif, okay :) 

Becca: That garden scene *snorts* I honestly never pictured Jace leading Clary through a magical garden with twinkling lights like this. Maybe it's in the book. I can't remember, but it seemed...lame. And I remember Jace being badass. 



What the hell is up with that blonde bit? Did someone go messing with the bleach?

Becca: Okay, I think I figured it out. The movie does a poor job at explaining / connecting things, but I think that (MINOR SPOILER ALERT) Clary cut him in his werewolf form and it formed a scar in his human self. Hence, the ugly white patch where his scar would be. Still, it was so distracting. The hair in this film *shakes head*

Krista: I don't like that explanation. Even if it's right, they really should have at least mentioned it. 

And the rest of the supporting cast was good for what they were. Lena Headly kept her accent for Clary's mom. Not sure why, but hey...I'll go with it. 

The Romance

Becca: Those looks! That garden scene! Why did it have to be so instantaneous? I kept thinking, would Jace really say these cheesy things to her in this garden? Maybe he did in the book, but I don't remember him being all puppy-dog eyed when it concerned Clary. There was more of a mystery on his feelings. I wanted him to like her so badly in the book, I remember. In the film, I wish he would stop ogling her from the first moment.

Krista: Totally agree!! When my fav character who's a giant hardass turns into soft mush almost instantly when he sees Clary, I'm not happy. Especially when this was happening in the beginning of the movie --

I don't remember exactly, but I was never thrown off in the books by insta-love. In the movies, it's like a slap in the face. I'm not really sure why Jace and Clary even like each other at all. It's just...ohhhhhh wait...I'm looking into his eyes right now....anddddddd I totally get it. They're so pretttttyyyy.

Ugh. I hate insta-love.

Becca: It kind of ruined Jace's character. Every time I loved him by his sarcastic "I don't care" lines, he had to go and be all mushy.

Krista: Yep! And they were so forcing a love triangle. No. Just no. It was so unnecessary when you have to cram 500 pages of a book into a 2 hour movie. Why couldn't they just leave that stuff out? Simon could have still had feelings for Clary and all, but it didn't need to be presented like this. Again -- it was way too been-there-done-that. It's not 2007 anymore.

Becca: I wasn't as irritated by this. I understand that it's a big part of the book, and fans would have probably been pissed if it was omitted. What purpose would Simon have without loving Clary? But they could have put more mystery into whether or not Jace actually had real feelings for her. 

The Music

Becca: (This is an updated section. We forgot to put it in, but the music deserves to be talked about.) The music was so distracting! I love, love, love instrumental music, and when there is singing, it's haunting. Like Harry Potter. It's perfect. Here, songs backdrop the romantic scenes and the end of the film, and there is singing. But it's not chilling. It's not beautifully eerie; it's just cheesy. They picked songs that people would use in fan videos. It's so reminiscent of Twilight, that I cringed a little. I think Twilight is a great move -- for fans. Does it have any other cinematic value? Not really. I thought Mortal Instruments would stand up on its own like The Hunger Games -- meaning non-fans could appreciate it too. But after this, I just don't think so.

Also, the one time that was appropriate for instrumental music was during the vampire fight scene in the dining room. And thankfully they didn't use a song with cheesy singing and lyrics. But the music turned out to be a techno, club beat that didn't go at all with the action (the fighting was awesome by the way, but it was just shadowed by the horrible music.) 

Favorite Scene

Becca: Every scene with Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Valentine) -- he totally stole the show. 

Krista: I liked all the scenes with snarky-Jace not the love-sick-Jace. Sadly the puppy dog looks overtake his character more than his hard, sarcastic wit.

The Ending

Becca: Ah, the ending. This is SPOILER territory for anyone who wants to turn back now.

Krista: Ughhhhhhhh. What? Nothing got concluded. Blah. 

Becca: Really. NOTHING happened in the end. You know the last line of the Harry Potter series: All was well. Yeah, I kind of felt like that because we weren't shown the conclusion of anyone's storyline except for Jace and Clary's romance -- as if that was the biggest intrigue of the film. No, the world is in my opinion, why else would there be so many dang Shadowhunter spin-offs?  


Becca: When deciding my rating, I've been thinking back to how I felt about Beautiful Creatures. We gave the film a D for being a snooze-fest. And while I think that Beautiful Creatures did the characters and the romance better than The Mortal Instruments, this film didn't give me the urge to walk out of the theater and take back that 2 hours of my life. So it gets a C- for poor character development and tired plots. But I did love the horror and Jonathan Rhys Meyers.

Krista: This is hard to rank. On one hand, I liked some aspects of Jace and I thought the plot was fast paced. But when your reaction is this throughout the film --

It kind of leaves you with a mixed bag of emotions. Unfortunately, I was screaming no more than I was screaming yes, so I'll have to give the movie a C+. I'm adding the plus for the sheer fact that I think book readers will like it better than non-readers. For those of you who haven't read the books, it may leave you more confused and upset than pleased. 

But fear not fans! There is hope for redemption. The second movie has a release date. It's going to be made, which means that despite the low rotten tomatoes rating and if the movie does poorly, we'll see Clary and Jace again. The only hope is that they'll come back with more depth and connections to other characters. I don't want to watch another romance with some random action scenes thrown in. No, thank you. 



  1. I really loved this movie!! Sad you guys didn't. I went with my Mom who hasn't read it and she loved it too. There were problems with it. Definitely Magnus and I wasn't a fan of the dialogue Izzy had. She should have been sassier and Magnus should have been more flamboyant but I liked it A LOT! :)

    1. Glad you loved it, Dana, I totally wish we did too :D

  2. Ah! This makes me so sad! I haven't seen the movie yet and I may wait until it's out on DVD now. I hate insta-love and ah! That was my favorite line in the movie! I always imagined Magnus looking like Godfrey but with a really deep voice with a slightly European-esque accent. It makes me so sad that that didn't really happen!

    In the book there was this scene in a garden near the end if you have your book and can flip to the end. I don't remember much about it but yeah.

    Ugh this dog scene worries me. It totally bums me out that there are no real answers given and I really loved Alec's character, so gah! Just sadness!

    I'm really happy about Simon though because I thought he was cast beautifully. And Jemima West! While it pisses me off that she has a blow torch, I think she was cast well as well.

    All in all...I'll get back to you when I see the movie. But I repeat for the 40th time: GAH! :(

    1. Yes, GAH is right. Magnus was a HUGE letdown. I've never been so distracted by a dubbed voice.

  3. I love this review so much.. I am still going to see the film though. Just can't help myself, just like I went to Beautiful Creatures.

    1. Thanks Angie! Same, I would still see the film even if I heard it was bad. Just have to check out what it's about :)

  4. I'm planning to see this tomorrow, and thanks to you guys (I haven't read any other review), I know not to expect too much. But I'm really easy to please when it comes to movies so I'm pretty sure I'll love it XD

    Insta-love, though... So not Jace!

    1. Let me know how you like it! I'm sure if you're easy to please, this one will be a winner. See, I thought so too -- Jace and insta-love seem soooo wrong.

  5. Laughing so hard. I was so excited when I first saw the trailer, but the my excitement started to fade as I saw the PR trick with Jamie and Lily dating (it was CLEARLY a PR trick, come on :S) and so not believable.. -.- anyhow, then there were all of these clips released and different trailers and I feel like I have seen the movie even before I have gone to see it in a theatre and it's not even released here before tomorrow. I'll def go see it, but I'm not that excited and btw, that garden scene was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO not like that and it already gave me the creeps in the trailer. It's just.. so not what I thought it was going to be even if it is Cassie's favorite scene from the film. I think the series will have the chance to redeem itself as the filming for City of Ashes begins soon, but I doubt it will attract the number of crowd they were aiming for. Supernatural stuff is slowly fading away from cinemas. Unless it's MARVEL. Oh and the casting crew nailed it with Robert and Jemima and I'm glad you enjoyed these two so much:) Can't wait to see them. Izzy and Simon are my OTP so yeah.. LOL :D I don't even care so much about Clary and Jace. Thanks for making me laugh girls! Loved this review:)

    1. I didn't know Jamie and Lily just broke up! Krista told me. Wow, it was a PR trick then. That's sooo mean. And it didn't help. Izzy and Simon <3 they were the best in the film (besides Valentine). And I'm in shock that Cassie's favorite scene was the garden O_O that seemed so anti-Jace to me.

  6. I just wanted to leave a quick message to say I LOVE your blog and added your button to my site... Not sure if you are following me on Bloglovin.... but please do. :) Check it out... I love the concept of the 2 opinions between twins and seriously enjoyed your take on The City of Bones movie..... I will still see it becasue the books were one of my faves, but great review! :)

    1. Thanks Melissa ;) I'll be sure to check out your blog! I'm sure you'll like the movie if you're a big fan of the series :D

    2. I realize I do follow your blog (I think on GFC though, now on Bloglovin') I know Simplistic Reviews!!! Thanks for stopping by :D

  7. Ohhhhh. I was excited for this one, mainly because everyone else was excited. (suggestibility is always my downfall) I haven't seen it yet, but I've seen so many of the trailers/interviews/previews that I feel like I've seen it.

    Does that make sense? I don't know. I'll probably see it in theaters, just to see it and then support the movie, but I'm not fangirling over it.

    Great review!! I love this twin takedown, and I'm off to read your guys other ones. (hope that sentence makes sense)

  8. Considering the, say, layered way the book is written AND the huge fan basr plus those who read the book because of the movie, I think the movie was made for them (us) & no passing curious.
    Well, I guess.
    I still have to watch it; OH MOVIE PEOPLE! Why!? The movie will be released here till next week (Mx) & I'm so not going to San Diego to watch it *sulks & goes away*

  9. Oh you guys, this review is so fun! I skimmed parts of it because I haven't seen the movie yet, but your reactions are about what I'd expect from it anyway. (I liked, but didn't love the books. But obviously I have to see it.)

    I'm really unsure about this casting as well, and the complaint I'm hearing most often from non-fans is the movie is hard to follow if you aren't familiar with the books.It's been awhile since I've read them too, so I'm fuzzy on it should be interesting to what happens.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden