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.

The Dead Zone (1963)

Rating: 15
Length: 1hr 43
Release: 13.1.1984
Director: David Cronenberg
About: A man awakens from a coma to discover he has a psychic ability.


The Good

  • The story is strong, making sure that elements are cleverly dropped into the narrative and actually really pay off towards the end of the movie. For instance, Johnny’s psychic abilities are triggered by Sam, his clinic doctor. It seems its just there to provide a bond between the characters and someone who believes through experience rather than belief. However, it not only does it pay off in the final act, but it gives the viewer one of the most heavily debated ethical conundrums, but Sam gives one of the best answers to the question I’ve ever heard.
  • While episodic in its delivery, it doesn’t feel disjointed. Again, this is to do with clever plotting and delivery. The introduction of senator candidate Stillson reminds me so much of how Prime Minster Saxon was developed in Doctor Who. At one point in the film, you might be forgiven for thinking that the focus of the whole film was going to be on Johnny assisting the detectives in town, but when that’s resolved you don’t feel like the rug has been pulled.
  • Speaking of Stillson, its rather chilling how much like President Orange-face he is. It’s also a little unsettling to know that Martin Sheen goes on to play a president so well received on tv that people still call for him to be real. Yes, I know he’s an actor, but its not lost on me that all politicians are not themselves either.
  • A weird thing to like, but its a really green film on the most part. Yes, I feel like it means something. No, I don’t know what it is. I suspect it’s to do with Johnny’s ability, but it draws me in rather than frustrates me.
  • Christopher Walken as Johnny. Bloody hell, I’m invested and he’s a hero. A blessed or cursed one, I’m not sure I’ve decided on that yet. It’s a testament to Walken as an actor that I went into this thinking he was going to be a bad guy and be completely creeped out for him to win me over.
  • There’s so much else that I loved about this film; the themes, the questions raised and that science versus mysticism that automatically comes with this sort of story.

The Bad

  • The only part I found a little disjointed was the parent’s watching the televised interview and what happens to the mother. It’s slightly unclear (I’m nitpicking) and I’m not sure if that’s because I was already preparing for a flash from Johnny or if it just lacked the physical words.

The Ugly

  • Stephen King can’t write women for shit! Beverly Marsh has a gang bang with all of the Loser’s Club (albeit both the tv movie and the modern remake have the sense to leave it out), Donna bangs her husband’s tennis partner and now we’ve got Sarah who during Johnny’s five-year snooze gets married and has a baby. Okay, maybe that’s okay given Johnny’s dad has already moved on 2 minutes after mama’s death, however to take the baby to johnny’s house and lay it down to sleep before offering your tits to the man you abandoned. Bull shit! No!

Final Thoughts

It’s a film I’d watch again in a heartbeat. You can’t really take you’re eyes of the screen for a minute and the questions it leaves you with will invite you to return for another viewing.