Film Review: The Mortal Instruments(2013)

Rating: 12A
Length: 2hr 10
Release: 21.8.2013
Dir: Harald Zwat
About: New York teenager Clary Fray learns a secret about herself, which leads her into an adventurous journey. Clary is one of the Shadowhunters, a secret cadre of half-angel warriors who fight demons.


The Good

  • The film’s strongest aspect it the visual world building and the distinction between the Mundane and the Shadowhunters. There is an element of emo-Potter to it which makes complete sense when you know that the book franchise this movie is based on started life as Harry Potter fan fiction and Jace, with his blond hair, is actually Draco Malfoy.
  • There are some comic nods to other films, such as Simon’s ‘I’m the Key Master.’ quip when Jace reveals himself.
  • There are quite a number of well executed scenes, rescuing Simon for one. They play out well and on the most part, use physical and computer effects well.

The Bad

  • Clary isn’t fully established as a character in her own right before she’s thrown into the Shadowhunter world. It’s a little damaging to the character and the viewer as there’s no investment.
  • While Aiden Turner does an okay job when I watched this back in 2013, the tv show gave an adapted version of Luke to Isaiah Mustafa and it works so much better.
  • As I mentioned, individual scenes worked well but there’s something missing that ties it all together. The success (arguable) of the tv show does suggest it is more suited to the episodic approach.
  • The werewolves are totally shit. They are even worse than those seen in Twilight and those were neutered, tootless, bitches. These are just pathetic and the film ignores the complexity of their relationship with the Clave.

The Ugly

  • The film is about 30 minutes too long, yet its contents is incredibly shallow for what time they had to play with. Both Luke’s lycan reveal and Hodge’s betrayal have no impact because in one it’s hinted at too much and the latter has too little screen time with anyone to understand how much he means to the teens left in his care or Clary who is mentored by him in the books.
  • What was the choice behind Jonathan Rhys Meyers’ shockingly shit American shout?! Everyone else from the Shadowhunter world has British accents of varying quality, JRM is Irish.Surly is makes sense to allow him to keep his native accent?!
  • What the actual fuck is with Hollywood and incest? Why is it even a trope? I want to blame George Lucas, but I’m sure it dates further back than the galaxy far, far away. So,I guess this also isn’t the film’s fault given that it’s a massive plot in the books that evolves over the entire trilogy, but what the fuck?! So Clary, the bloke you like and have struggled to show any chemistry for is revealed to be your brother! Gross! What’s worse is that its not properly resolved and the film ends with the couple/siblings riding off on a motorcycle together.

Final Thoughts

I’m pissed off that I forgot how shit this movie was. I’m pissed off because I thought I’d yet to watch a film from 2013 this year, to discover after the fact that its actually 2012 that’s lacking a mark on my tracker.
Perhaps it’s much like that buzzing sound you stop hearing as you get older, you also lose your patience for really shit YA film adaptations. However, I’m more inclined to say it was the lacklustre performances that DOA’d this film.

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