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Generally favorable reviews- based on 265 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 80 out of 265

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  1. Aug 21, 2013
    The book is not so good... The movie is even worse!
    Harald Zwart proves again: He don't know how to make movies!

    Don't spend your money on this!
    Pass away, far far away...
  2. Sep 7, 2013
    I went in to City of Bones thinking it was going to be a terrible movie, but it turns out I was wrong, it was worse. Before we get too far into the review, I will say that I have not read any of the books so there will be no comparison at all in this review. The film straight out rips off Twilight, Harry Potter, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, all at the same time. You would think that with all these good ideas already existing they could put together a pretty good movie, but I found myself already tired ten minutes, in with another 90 minutes to go.

    City of Bones is the story of Clarissa Fray (Lily Collins) who learns that she has special powers and is a shadowhunter. She meets Jace (Jamie Bower) who has a British accent, and together they fight monsters in New York, that only they can see. It's impossible not to see Twilight in this film because there are just so many similarities. A couple hours ago I checked the Rotten Tomatoes score of the film and it reminded me of MySpace. A couple years ago it would've been hot, but today no one likes it or should see it.
    Mortal Instruments: City of Bones was just cheap. Cheap special effects that weren't impressive, cheap acting, and a lot of extra false drama incorporated into the film. For example, there was a scene within a few minutes of the start, where Clary's mom picked up a creepy note on the table and the whole family freaked out, like three times slower than a regular persons reaction. From that time, through the rest of the movie, I felt like I was watching a bad soap opera.

    The romance felt fake and was at the most random times. Since Twilight had romance, this film had to have a poor copy of romance too. I mean seriously, at least Twilight’s romance was more convincing and made sense. Oh and by the way, Jace was also in all three Twilights and Harry Potter. REALLY?! When I found this out, it reminded me one of those shows where the employee works at their competitors company so they will get all the secrets. Except it didn't help, City of Bones was still crap.

    With the colon in the title, it hints the production of another film in the series, which kills me. Hopefully viewers will know the quality of this film, and won’t waste money with the next installment. I felt like this movie belonged more on Nickelodeon, then on the big screen. With no originality, false drama, bad acting, even worse special effects, and soap opera qualities, it’s a no brainer that City of Bones is one of the worst movies I have ever seen, and will obviously not be recommended.
  3. Aug 21, 2013
    In the end, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is yet another would-be franchise trying (and quite likely failing) to fill the post-Twilight void. Even with a richer, darker, more action-packed premise; a more intriguing world; and a cast featuring some quality UK thespians with actual acting chops in the leads, there is just no denying that the story and the movie are both sub-par, forgettable and worst of all, crushingly boring by the end. Bury this one under a city of bones, and tell the cast to seek more lively pastures. Expand
  4. Aug 24, 2013
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. I liked the book a lot, after having just seen the movie, i have a red hand print on my face from the constant face palms i gave myself. I knew going in that not everything would be like the book, but this was bad, like "Eragon" bad. (Eragon was such a bad movie adaption they couldn't make the sequels)

    For the most part, I thought they did a good job on the casting. The acting might not have been so great, but at least looks wise, everyone looked the part. The one glaring exception was having Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Valentine. In the book, he was described as being tall, muscular and broad shouldered, with short greyish hair. He was always calm and collected and often dressed in a suit. In the movie, Valentine was portrayed as small, and skinny like Jace, with a little chin and mustache scruff, not to mention dark, almost black hair, with weird little rat tail braids hanging all over. He was also dressed in a black leather biker jacket with no shirt underneath. He was also highly emotional and out of control. On a side note, i thought the guy that played Magnus was horrible as well, from a cosmetic stand point he might have been ok, but his acting in the few brief minutes he had, was worse then Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker.

    How anyone that read the books could enjoy this movie was beyond me. They didn't even introduce us to Raphael, the lead vampire that cautioned them from the Hotel Dumort.

    Maybe the budget was tight, and they couldn't afford to film at a new location, but the final battle between the werewolves and Valentines Forsaken warriors, would have been a nice reprieve. Instead, the final battle takes place at the institute( holy ground) which kinda negates the entire point of the place, and its the werewolves vs crow/fire demons (which can be killed by a flame thrower apparently), which sounds cool....except the werewolves can't transform, they just kinda stand there like "ok, what now?" as they get picked off one by one. Even if i never read the book, i still would have hated the movie.

    At least Jace and Simon's banter was funny at times.
  5. Aug 23, 2013
    I know people don't want to hear this, but lets the facts, it's a combination of "Twilight", "Harry Potter" and possibly other books series that you might have loved. There's nothing new here, it's just the next big teen movie. If your a girl and love "Twilight" then you'll absolutely adore this movie. If you're like me and were disappointed with its lack of originality, then you'll probably hate this movie. Overall, it's from book series that you've read before. Be sure to check out my YouTube channel "TheMovieManLife". Expand
  6. Aug 28, 2013
    This below par book adaptation is not only poorly acted, miss-cast and badly adapted it barely resembles the story. The humour is gone, the chemistry is lacking and the best aspect of the book (ie the reveal of this unseen world) is glossed over. Only truly delusional fans of the series will praise this mess.

    There was some good action and visual effects and I also acknowledge that the
    director had a limited time to introduce so much. But with a history like his we could have predicted this shallow interpretation when the source deserves more. Expand
  7. Aug 21, 2013
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. So I'm going to try and write a review that doesn't contain a plethora of grammar mistakes that make me look like I'm from a third world country and actually discuss why this movie garnered a whopping 2 out of 10.

    Having never read the books nor having a desire to watch this film, I have never witnessed such a piece of cinematic debauchery within this current decade. Knowing that this film is geared towards younger audiences and knowing that the film contains more drama than there would be action I prepared myself for something that would put me to sleep, and boy was I wrong. This film did its absolute best in filling me with nothing but plot devices and special snowflake syndrome to make me hurl my bunches of crunch at the screen. The only moment in this film that I thought any character on screen had any sense of rationalism was when Simon declared the relationship between Clary and Jace ludicrous on the immediate attachment by Rico Suave not 72 hours after meeting one another.

    I didn't care that there were vampires or werewolves or anything of the like, what disappointed me was for the underline title of City of Bones, I saw next to nothing relevant to this title other than the brotherhood of eyeless mutes who had a screen time of 3 minutes. If screen time for the celibate skeletons weren't enough than the short-bus of werewolves coming to save the day was even worse as they serve as nothing more than cannon fodder to be quickly picked off and leave only a main side character as the only survivor. Lets not forget the Heroic Sacrifice? of Hodge going toe to toe with thing #1 and then needlessly sacrificing himself to the birds as a way to make up for having aligned himself with evil and causing all this to happen in the first place.

    Now the fighting aside from the endless vampire horde was actually pretty interesting all things considering, I even found myself cheering on Simon as he hit Ms Cleo upside the head with a shovel, but it wasn't enough to save this film from the obvious heartache of having to condense a novel of this size into a bite size 2 hour film.
  8. Sep 1, 2013
    The movie is a complete mess. And this is coming from a major teen fan of the book series. I never got into the twilight series or hunger games series much but once I started reading these books, I couldn't stop. The books were fascinating and followed a clear story line. But the movies, they just flipped from one book to the next and added things that NEVER happened in the books! The rune? That was made up. She made a binding rune and destroying rune, not a freezing time rune. Summoning the demons? That happened in the plains of Idris. Not the Institute. The fake cup? Um no. He got the real thing and summoned the angel. One minute, they were kissing (First book, chapter 11 or 12)and the next, Valentine had the cup. (Book 2 or 3). If they make a sequel, I sure hope it's a clearer story line. I do give this movie a one for it's humorous parts. Just remember, this is coming from a teenage girl. Expand
  9. Oct 15, 2013
    Biggest flaw of the film Terrible script. It explained nothing, You seriously did not learn the characters until a good 20 minutes into it. It was so difficult to follow because you had no idea what was going on. Completely ruined the film. Even then, The acting is so-so and it was supported by poor actions scenes. How do people like this trash?
  10. Aug 26, 2013
    Awful scenario stupid dialog disaster in a fiction! Yeah, action is good, but it's nowhere near enough! City of Bones is too long (too boring), mediocre movie at best.
  11. Sep 20, 2013
    The book is the good, but the movie is... awful. Bad performances, regular cast, terrible script, the only good are the effect, but the rest is terrible. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is bad, bad, bad...
  12. Nov 15, 2013
    I loved the book I was so happy there was movie coming out. So I went to see it when it first came out and I was devastated the movie was awful and nothing like the book everything was changed I hated it. Way to ruin a book and it's characters.
  13. Aug 31, 2013
    Completely derivative movie where nothing pays off or even makes much sense. A series of things happen in this movie though it is all flat, shoehorned, and copy/pasted from other, better, films. Attempting to hide poor writing and utter nonsense behind the "this is a book for kids" defense is insulting to actual good movies and children everywhere. One point for offering some of the most unintentionally hilarious bad movie moments in recent memory. Expand
  14. Sep 13, 2013
    Well... once again a piece of derivative garbage is vomited across screens around the world. It's sad that this will be occupy theatres instead of films far more worthy. Please don't waste your time.
  15. Sep 12, 2013
    So I do not often agree with the critics... I usually agree with the users, but I must say this movie is not one that I would recommend unless you are a teenaged girl in need of some dark Gothic type of romance, then I might possibly see some merit to this movie. The acting so so, story line so so, and special effects just o k. If you are a young man I would recommend that you do NOT attend this with your teen girlfriend you may wish you had not spent the money or the time.... Expand
  16. Sep 7, 2013
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Probably one of the worst movies I've seen in a long time, how there are some people who have given it a 10 is beyond my comprehension.

    I'll start by saying that I never read the book and am not really interested in doing so now, I saw the trailer and immediately thought this was a the next franchise to try and follow Twilight's footsteps, but seemed to be a little less "teen supernatural romance" than twilight and would be at least a movie a guy could sit through if your girl who wanted to watch it. I thought I knew what I was getting myself into but boy was I wrong.

    The movie has an "ok" premise in the beginning, and it doesn't start that bad but somewhere along the lines everything goes to hell, ridiculous plots emerge, the story then just goes everywhere and nowhere at the same time, it gets so bad it starts to get funny just watching how lame and predictable the story is.

    You can tell they took parts and pieces from other successful book-movie franchises and just splattered them in this; you can even see Hogwart's infirmary inside the institute that resembles Hogwarts a lot, there's a love triangle just like "twilight", the group of good guys are pretty much out of twilight (just take off the fangs and give them weapons), the whole shadow-hunter thing is pretty much Constantine for teens, hell they even have wand like thingies that glow that look a lot like Dr. Who's Sonic Screwdriver

    Some scenes are so unnecessary that if you think about it for just one second you can tell they make no sense being there (they almost seem that they literally took what was written in the book and did the scene as is, instead of doing some screenwriting to make it fit in a movie), the two worst parts of the movie have to do with the big "Twist" near the end:
    1) When Valentine reveals that Jace and Clary are brothers; after you had to go through a cliched scene where they sucked face (by the way the kiss scene was one of the worst scenes and so poorly done), which I just thought was wrong in so many levels, and in the end Jace and Clary seem not to even care about their incestuous kiss and feelings and simply dismiss them as "I don't really think we are" (would have been ok with it if during the movie they had only seemed to have feelings for each other and didn't kiss so in the end you didn't know whether those feelings were attraction or family love and or if Valentine was lying or not)

    2) Again when Valentine tells Jace he is his son, Jace doesn't believe him and shows him his father's ring with a W (Wayland his family's name), and then Valentine grabs the ring and turns it around so its an M (Morgenstern, Valentine's last name) I swear everyone in the theatre laughed at that moment, it's like:
    -Valentine: see?, if you turn it around its and M not a W
    -Jase: Oh my god! You're right! I've had this ring for ages and never did I ever see that if you turned it
    around it would have an M instead of a W. That is all the proof I need, I totally believe you!

    The plot twist was just so poorly executed it was laughable.

    In the end what could have been an OK franchise; grabbing what made Twilight successful (a supernatural love plot oriented for teen girls) and adding some action with other supernatural beings that weren't all all hopeless romantic on the effeminate side, it turns out to be even worse than Twilight (never thought I'd say that) with obvious plots and twists, poor writing, and characters that just come out bland

    I'm not sure if the book is written as poorly or if its just a very bad adaptation, but I really don't recommend this movie to anyone who is not a teenage girl, believe me when I say "You will loose 2hr & 10min of your life" you would rather spend on "anything" and y mean "ANYTHING" else
  17. Nov 24, 2013
    This film doesn't catch you. I read the book and it's so good, I love it, but the film doesn't translate the great history of the book to it. I don't recommend this movie, it's so bad, it changes ALL of the book. Almost all actors don't catch the feelings and personality of the real characters. The end is the worst part, the beginning is normal. I hope they cannot do the sequel of it
  18. Dec 4, 2013
    I read the first book and unfortunately that is as far as I will go with the series. This movie was a big disappointment for me. The story line was jumbled and sections of the book were moved around and important parts were completely omitted. The end was nothing like it was supposed to be and I was overall let down by the movie
  19. Dec 7, 2013
    Really disappointed. The books were much better. They took a lot of small important details that made the books great out of the movie and crammed it all together. A person who hadnt read the books couldnt even get into this garbage.. I waited forever for this (horrible) movie. If i were the author id be ashamed, they ruined her books.
  20. Dec 13, 2013
    This movie was the worst book to screen adaptation I have ever seen like, it was worse than Eragon they could have could have continued with the inheritance series movies but they chose not to, it is aso like the Percy Jackson movie they pull things from other books I mean sure its little things but still its enough to ruin the movie for you if you have actually read the books. So I don't think that Cassandra had any say in the writings for the movie what so ever and I'm pretty sure that they are supposed to consult the author of the book for her ideas on how she wants it. The only part about it that I liked was the midnight flower scene, I think that that is the only thing that they got right. Also I would have went with a different actor for Jace and Alec. So in conclusion I don't think that they should make the second book into a movie, and I'm sure that after seeing the first one Cassandra won't sell the rights to the second book. That was the only reason that they didn't continue with the Eragon movies. Expand
  21. May 23, 2014
    Shehaan ruined the movie ,Movie is quite good otherway.Probably they changed the scenario cause of him , he is one of the producers.It is a bit longer than needed
  22. Oct 6, 2014
    Not original, nonsense and boring movie. Nice CGI effects (demons are good)... but what else? Nothing! the movie is confusing and is too long (124 minutes?!?) why!?). thanks god i didn't read the books.
  23. Apr 18, 2014
    What. The. Actual. ****

    The movie is so terrible, i cant even...
    nothing here makes sense, nothing explained. It was a total waste of time!
  24. Dec 12, 2013
    Well, I did not not enjoy this movie. I have read the book and did enjoy that a bit but this movie just doesn't cut it. The adaptation mostly followed the book but they squished everything into such a sort span of time that we were jumping from one scene to the next. There was no character development and you are just left to guess. I even read the book and got lost in parts of the movie. I probably could have been done well with a different adaptation but this just fell flat. On the bright side, Jonathan Rhys-Myers is still dreamy. Expand
  25. Jan 28, 2014
    I never had any problem with such movies, for example "Twilight" or "The Host" movies that I like to call "Triangular Teen Love Stories" always the same content. As for "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones", which is the first motion picture of the upcoming book-based trilogy. This movie holds an interesting enough premise to grab your attention (although obvious that Screen Gems wants the next Twilight). It is not overall original but it is better than the above titles. It is not anything that you will keep in memory, it is just "it's there" type of movie, no more. Expand
  26. Dec 30, 2013
    Yep, this movie was not meant for me. I guess if you think Bella and Edward are dynamic characters with rich backgrounds and their romance is a whirlwind event, you might enjoy this latest dash to cash in on “Twilight” with another tween book franchise. The film is a complete mess of bad acting, uninteresting characters, weak action, a weaker plot and a story that feels the need to stuff itself with every single fantasy film cliché you can think of. Unless you’re a part of the target audience (tweens), this movie is just a forgettable piece of unimaginative nothingness. Expand
  27. Jan 22, 2014
    I have read all the books; and I am an older woman - not a teenager. I waited with such anticipation to see the movie (especially after the Hunger Games movies). What a disappointment and waste of my money. The two main characters lacked in chemistry and what's with putting vampire bites on Simon's neck? Valentine, who is the reason for all this drama taking place is barely covered. Maybe if I had not read the books (which are amazing) I would not feel this way.

    It's a shame when producers and directors take a great story with great characters and change things. The reason the book is a best seller is because of how it is written and the development of the storyline.

    I like what Kevin Kosner said on the night show about his movie Dances With Wolves and its length. He said, if I am going to make a movie I want to make sure the integrity of the story is not compromised and the movie will be as long as necessary to tell the story!!!

    Authors who sell the movie rights to their books (especially if they have such a strong fan base) should make sure the contract does not allow for such drastic changes - or better yet - save money from the sale of your books and produce it yourself or at least co-produce.

    No since making any sequels for me - I won't wast my time.
  28. Feb 1, 2014
    The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones was a huge disappointment, at least until the third act where it became halfway decent. The first two acts were a constant parade of exposition and action scenes with almost no time for character development. On top of that, the pacing, acting (save for the main actress), and script are fairly poor. Plot threads are set up and left dangling, possibly for the sequel or possibly because of the cut source material. Some reviews label it as the next Twilight, but to me it feels like the next Eragon. Twilight at least set time aside for characterization, though admittedly the romantic chemistry is just as bad. There are some redeeming moments, but those can't be discussed for spoiler reasons and they raise even more questions. The least that can be said about it is that it's entertaining, but the truth is that you've seen this movie before and better under many different titles. No need to waste your money on this one.

    Still better than Man of Steel, though.
  29. Mar 10, 2014
    This is one of the worst book to movie adaptations I have ever seen. I can't believe that if you loved the books you would ever love this movie. The casting was awful, and anything that was taken from the book was completely changed. The end was changed beyond recognition and absolutely terrible. I should have turned this movie off after the first 20 minutes. If they really wanted to turn this into a franchise then maybe they should have followed the book a little more closely like, oh, I don't know, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Lord of the Rings, even The Help, which anyone who read these books can see they tried to stay as close to the book as possible. I would be shocked if the author had any say in this movie because why would you want to throw away everything you worked so hard to achieve by turning your book into a bad movie. The book had the makings of a good movie with plenty of drama that it didn't need it all added in.
    The next time someone tells me not to see the movie of a book we both read I will listen. I knew that this was rate horribly but I figured there had to be something good about it and I was wrong.
    If you have read the book but haven't seen this film yet, do not see it. Do not waste your time or your money on this million dollar train wreck.
  30. Sep 4, 2014
    The book was good. The only thing I liked about the movie was the characters that were picked. I understand some compacting of scenes for time. What I don't understand is completely changing it around. I say try to stick to the book as much as you can and I don't think they did that at all for this movie.I will not be watching the next one because it does nothing but aggravate me when I see that.
  31. Sep 12, 2014
    this movie completely ruined the book. if i were the author i would sue the producers. they didn't stick to the book hardly at all. 1.) practically none of the scenes happened where or how they were supposed to happen. 2.) hodge never suggests to valentine that he should tell Clary and Jace that they are brother and sister. valentine raised Jace and wanted to crush all happiness in Jace's life. 3.) Clary's mother was not in the basement of the institute she was on Blackwell's island and basically chained to a bed. 4.) they left out the entire battle at Blackwell's island. there are so many more things wrong with this movie but i could go on forever. lets just say they didn't stick to the book like at all. ok sure if you've not read the book i guess its an ok move. but if you've read the book, you'd understand. the only thing they did even remotely right were the actors who played Jace, Isabel, Alec and Magnus Bane. but again that is the only thing they even remotely did right Expand
  32. Nov 13, 2014
    "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones" 10 Scale Rating: 3.0 (Bad) ...

    The Good: You can tell that Lilly Collins clearly wanted this to work as she was not part of the problem at all. Decent enough special effects.

    The Bad: A completely unoriginal cliche of a film that perhaps would have been watchable a decade ago. Themes and elements of other franchises are stolen right and left
    ... but not half as well done. Over-acting so bad that it eventually becomes unbearable. Expand

Generally unfavorable reviews - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 35
  2. Negative: 16 out of 35
  1. Reviewed by: Louis Black
    Aug 28, 2013
    Not only have we seen this all before, but we were probably hoping to not see it again.
  2. Reviewed by: Curtis Woloschuk
    Aug 28, 2013
    As for some of the big reveals, viewers will see them coming from a galaxy far, far away.
  3. Reviewed by: Bilge Ebiri
    Aug 26, 2013
    City of Bones isn’t the worst of its kind, but crap served with flair is still basically crap.