Metascore
33

Generally unfavorable reviews - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 35
  2. Negative: 16 out of 35

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Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Chris Nashawaty
    Aug 21, 2013
    67
    Make no mistake, there will be a sequel. Clary may not wind up having the same pop-culture impact as Bella and Katniss, but like it or not, this won't be the last time you hear from her.
  2. Reviewed by: Bruce Ingram
    Aug 20, 2013
    63
    Everything chugs along briskly and reasonably entertainingly until running off the rails a bit with a wildly overcomplicated finale.
  3. Reviewed by: Mark Jenkins
    Aug 24, 2013
    50
    Aside from the giggles induced by the romance-novel bits, the movie's principal hazard is exhaustion. There are too many characters, and too many of them spend too much time morphing into something else. Five more like this? That would be demonic.
  4. Reviewed by: David Hiltbrand
    Aug 21, 2013
    50
    Though imaginatively directed by Harald Zwart, Mortal Instruments, which is adapted from Cassandra Clare's YA novels, is marred by significant flaws.
  5. Reviewed by: R. Kurt Osenlund
    Aug 21, 2013
    50
    The movie blasts by for a while as an odd and busy slice of highly watchable garbage.
  6. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Aug 20, 2013
    50
    The storyline is at times muddled and incoherent. This won't bother readers much since they have the "inside track" on what's happening. Then again, the narrative is so predictable that maybe it doesn't matter.
  7. Reviewed by: A.A. Dowd
    Aug 20, 2013
    50
    Borrowing every single component of its complicated plot from other sources, The Mortal Instruments is hodgepodge claptrap, but there’s a faint flicker of fun in its introducing-the-world passages.
  8. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Aug 20, 2013
    50
    Start with a heaping helping of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Throw in some "Percy Jackson," a dash of "Twilight," a spoonful of "The Vampire Diaries" and a sprinkling of "Harry Potter," and you end up with The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.
  9. Reviewed by: Stephanie Merry
    Aug 20, 2013
    50
    There are elements worth celebrating. The movie is thankfully less self-serious than the mopey “Twilight” films. The Mortal Instruments revels in its own camp. But there is plenty of room for improvement. The action flick is overly long, complicated and, even by teen romance standards, cringe-worthy in its cheesiness.
  10. 50
    If you love exposition and shapely if bland young actors in leather, skinny jeans, knee boots, Goth cocktail dresses and heavy eye makeup, this may be the movie for you.
  11. Reviewed by: Curtis Woloschuk
    Aug 28, 2013
    40
    As for some of the big reveals, viewers will see them coming from a galaxy far, far away.
  12. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Aug 21, 2013
    40
    This initial “Mortal Instruments” picture has the vibe of a straight-to-video release from the mid-‘90s, except with a $60 million budget and considerable special-effects expertise.
  13. Reviewed by: Helen O'Hara
    Aug 21, 2013
    40
    Apparently unable to decide whether to take its own mythology seriously or not, this is a mess of sculpted cheekbones and incoherent romance.
  14. Reviewed by: Anna Smith
    Aug 21, 2013
    40
    It’s a potent mix for young fans that gets off to an entertaining, action-packed start with bursts of knowing humour. But it’s soon bogged down by an increasingly convoluted plot, an overindulgent running time and absurd dialogue.
  15. 40
    Despite the overstuffed assortment of vampires, werewolves, warlocks and demons of all shapes and sizes, The Mortal Instruments seldom feels like anything more than a shameless, soulless knockoff.
  16. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Aug 20, 2013
    40
    A ludicrous, borderline-nonsensical supernatural concoction with a slightly redeeming sense of its own silliness.
  17. Reviewed by: Jeannette Catsoulis
    Aug 20, 2013
    40
    Too much of the film feels like shorthand, a trail of teasing crumbs to lead us to the inevitable sequels.
  18. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Aug 20, 2013
    40
    There’s so much bouncing around in tone and story that this film never really finds its footing. It flounders around trying to figure out what it should be, and never really settles on anything.
  19. Reviewed by: Genevieve Koski
    Aug 20, 2013
    40
    There’s a germ of something interesting and different within the film’s narrative tangle, but it’s unfortunately been subsumed by Hollywood’s dedication to replicating previous successes.
  20. 38
    That can’t disguise the script’s complete lack of wit or originality, though, or the generally wooden acting.
  21. Reviewed by: Scott Bowles
    Aug 20, 2013
    38
    Though it has flashes of promise, Bones traces the footsteps of its fantasy film predecessors too closely to blaze anything close to an original narrative.
  22. Reviewed by: Louis Black
    Aug 28, 2013
    30
    Not only have we seen this all before, but we were probably hoping to not see it again.
  23. Reviewed by: Bilge Ebiri
    Aug 26, 2013
    30
    City of Bones isn’t the worst of its kind, but crap served with flair is still basically crap.
  24. Reviewed by: Mark Olsen
    Aug 20, 2013
    30
    The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is just a sloppy rag bag of ideas cobbled from other stories.
  25. Reviewed by: John Oursler
    Aug 20, 2013
    30
    The nomenclature varies slightly, but there's little new or exciting in City of Bones. For strong female role models and unique fantasy settings, stick with The Hunger Games.
  26. Reviewed by: Simon Abrams
    Aug 23, 2013
    25
    These kids have to contrive magical pretexts just to lay hands on each other, and boy, are their excuses rotten.
  27. Reviewed by: Drew Taylor
    Aug 21, 2013
    25
    No matter how good The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones looks, it's hard to really care about anything that's going on, and not just because we could barely understand it.
  28. Reviewed by: Peter Hartlaub
    Aug 20, 2013
    25
    Every moviegoer will have his own breaking point, when The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones surpasses the mundane and enters the ridiculous.
  29. Reviewed by: Liam Lacey
    Aug 20, 2013
    25
    Within this bloated fantasy hodgepodge, there are few grace notes: In the role of the creepy fortune teller, Madame Dorothea, CCH Pounder is evil fun. And a few special effects, including a Rottweiller who turns into a skinned hellhound, leave an impression. Otherwise, Mortal Instruments manages to occupy 130 minutes of frantic, numbing, activity.
  30. Reviewed by: Laremy Legel
    Aug 20, 2013
    25
    This is a story that has everything you’re looking for, provided that you’re looking for absolutely nothing.
  31. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Aug 20, 2013
    25
    The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones hopes to be the start of a new franchise for tweens and Twihards, but the twuth is this twash is anything but a twiumph.
  32. Reviewed by: Francesca Steele
    Aug 24, 2013
    20
    This is film-making at its most cynical. But none of it actually makes much sense.
  33. Reviewed by: Jordan Hoffman
    Aug 21, 2013
    20
    This one is by far the worst of the “Twilight” copies. And when that bunch includes “The Host” and “I Am Number Four,” that’s saying something.
  34. Reviewed by: Robbie Collin
    Aug 21, 2013
    20
    The plot is an incomprehensible tangle of dead ends and recaps.
  35. Reviewed by: Matt Patches
    Aug 20, 2013
    20
    If only the fantasy surrounding her made a lick of sense. Here, the Muggle types are known as the “Mundane.” An apt label for a wanna-be franchise with plenty of sheen and nothing to say.
User Score
6.2

Generally favorable reviews- based on 298 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 45 out of 83
  2. Negative: 30 out of 83
  1. Aug 21, 2013
    10
    A great book-to-movie adaptation of an already much-loved book series. The cast is amazing and so is the plot which has no more than a fewA great book-to-movie adaptation of an already much-loved book series. The cast is amazing and so is the plot which has no more than a few changes to it compared to the book. Full Review »
  2. Aug 21, 2013
    8
    If you have read the book, you will love this movie. Harald Zwart has managed to create basically the book on the screen. With including allIf you have read the book, you will love this movie. Harald Zwart has managed to create basically the book on the screen. With including all the important scenes (they switched the order but still included it all), it made it a very enjoyable movie to watch as a fan of the book! However, if you are not a fan of the book, it may be a bit confusing. Some of the exposition given by Magnus was boring and it dragged the movie a bit but overall, I believe they did a good job! So if you can ignore some script awkwardness and a bit of story dragging, I think you should go out and watch the movie because I am personally looking forward to the next one! Full Review »
  3. Aug 21, 2013
    10
    As a fan of the book, I found it really great. The scenes and the cast was perfectly catch from essence of the books (of course the book isAs a fan of the book, I found it really great. The scenes and the cast was perfectly catch from essence of the books (of course the book is way better than the movie, but as a fan, I can say that they tried so hard to be loyal to the source). Somethings are really missing, but I hope the director put it on the second. I had a good time watching it. And as a have read here, it's a movie to the fans and the young people, or everyone who likes this kind of story. Full Review »