Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Movie Review: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

Title: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

Year: 2013

Stars:  Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, Kevin Zegers, Jemima West, Godfrey Gao, Lena Headey, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Aidan Turner, Robert Sheehan, Kevin Durand, and Jared Harris

Director: Harald Zwart

Writer(s): Jessica Postigo Paquette (screenplay) based on book of same name by Cassandra Clare

Studio: Constantin Film

Distributor: Screen Gems (US), Entertainment One (UK)

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Synopsis: 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.

There is a world hidden within our own.

Worlds will collide. 

You have been chosen.

Favorite line:

What I liked: Jamie Campbell Bower's performance as Jace was dead-on perfect. I especially loved the scene where Clary walks in on him at the piano in the library for his facial expressions alone. I also liked how they streamlined the action from the book. What do I mean by that? Well, for example, where in the book Jace and Clary keep bouncing off the Institute as they go from one errand to another, the movie not only tries to get the most of their treks out into the world, but also has Alex and Isabelle come along more often, simultaneously adding fluidity to the narrative while allowing the opportunity for all the characters to have more screen time. In other words, it takes my biggest problems with the book and fixes them. I actually prefer its narrative to that of the book, truth be told.

What I didn't like: The world of the Shadowhunters is pretty complex. There are Shadowhunters who fight demons, and there are Downworlders, commonly referred to as vampires, werewolves, mages, and fairies. There are runes that, when written on the skin of Shadowhunters, imbues them with certain abilities. There's a cup, a sword, and a mirror known as the Mortal Instruments, empowered because of their association with the angel Raziel. The angel Raziel is important because a long time ago, he came down from Heaven, bled into a cup, and offered it to humans who became the first Shadowhunters, granting them Buffy-like powers so they could better fight the demons. Throw in a bunch of personal history affecting the various adults and a villain with a dangerous mix of delusions of power and total paranoia, and its no small wonder what the pacing can come across as a bit staggered.

Overall: Hollywood's gotten crazy lately adapting young adult series for the big screen; already this past year  The Host, Beautiful Creatures, Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters, and Warm Bodies have graced our theatres, with The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Vampire Academy, and Divergent all forthcoming over the next year or so and no doubt dozens more to come after that. I love book adaptations; screenwriters basically take your favourite books, pillage the best parts to bring to life, then twist and restructure making it more suitable for a big screen narrative while throwing in a dash of surprise, whether you've  read the books or not. Mortal Instruments: City of Bones lives up to this tradition and does a fairly good job of it. Yes, its bogged down by trying to explain its own mythology and history, but ultimately, the actors do a terrific job of bringing the characters to life and the action plays out well. I know that the author of the books has a horrible reputation for plagiarism and cyber-bullying, among other things. It's important to remember though that a movie is more than the book it's based on. Where a book is the brainchild of a single individual, a movie is brought to life by the actors, screenwriter, director, and countless crew members. Their work and efforts deserve to be seen and judged for their own merits, without the taint the books incur for their creator's past. 

Would I watch a sequel: Yes, so they had better follow through with its (currently postponed) production!

My rating: ☺☺☺☺/5

It's currently in theatres so I would definitely recommend making the trip to view it.

REVIEW: Maryjanice Davidson's Undead and Unsure

Book: Undead and Unsure

Author: MaryJanice Davidson

Series: Betsy Taylor, Vampire Queen

Publishing stats: August 6th 2013 by Berkley Hardcover

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Cover Blurb: It’s no surprise to Betsy that her trip to Hell with her sister Laura landed them in hot water. Betsy isn’t exactly sorry she killed the Devil but it’s put Laura in a damnable position: assuming the role of Satan (she may not have the training but she looks great in red)—and in charge of billions of souls as she moves up in the world. Or is that down?

But Betsy herself is in an odd new position as well—that of being a responsible monarch suddenly in charge of all things more earth-bound: like her vampire husband Sinclair who has gone from relieved to ecstatic to downright reckless now that he can tolerate sunlight. And if Sinclair isn’t enough to contend with, Betsy’s best friend Jessica is in her sixth (and hopefully last) trimester. Considering she’s been pregnant for eighteen months, she’s become a veritable encyclopedia of what not to expect when you’re expecting. Oh, the horror…

And speaking of growing pains, Betsy and Sinclair’s adopted little BabyJon is finally starting to walk. And if the increasingly unpredictable toddler is anything like his extended family, precisely where he’s headed is anyone’s guess.

First line: “The devil's dead, and the Antichrist is pissed.”

***** If you're behind on the series, below may contain minor spoilers *****

What I liked: Like in the second and eighth books of this series, this book featured a sprinkling of chapters told from a perspective other than Betsy, the regularly scheduled narrator. Not only does this let the reader in on information Betsy wouldn't be privy to, it also allows for other characters to be fleshed out and gives direct insight into their psyches. The treat here was that the character sharing the spotlight with Betsy this time around was none other than Eric Sinclair. It was surprising; I didn't expect the tone his thoughts took, didn't anticipate the emotions driving his actions, and most certainly didn't see that last twist coming until it had run me over and backed up to wham me again. Which, really, is par for the course where Sinclair is concerned.

What I didn't like: This books featured events that are no doubt going to have a huge impact on the future of the series. Unfortunately, they all happen at the end. Until that point it's basically Betsy planning Thanksgiving, Betsy fretting over her relationship with Laura, Jessica being pregnant, Sinclair being in the sun and, oh yeah, Betsy goes to Hell. It's literally the last three chapters that contain all action, so to speak. Don't get me wrong, the lead up is funny as all sin, but it just seems like a splash of ordinary life with OMFGPLOTPOINTS! tacked on the end.

Overall: I love this series; it's quirky, it's funny, it's surprising, it's innocent. No matter how bad things get, they'll always get better. No matter the tragedy, the betrayal, the horror, or the body count, sooner or later it clears up and bright skies shine through. I love the MaryJanice Davidson brand of comedy; her books never fail to have me laughing out loud, be they Betsy, Fred the Mermaid, or Alaskan Royalty. This book was by no means my least favourite (Undead and Unworthy still holds that claim - between a geographically divided cast, psycho Laura, and judgmental werewolves the plot was just too...un-Betsy), but I was disappointment by the pace of events. It was a little like going to a Spiderman movie where Spiderman only gets twenty minutes of air time (Oh, wait, that's happened - thanks a lot Spiderman 2). Point being, it was a good book, funny and with a great ending, but its flow of action left much to be desired.

Would I read this author again: Yes - she's hilarious.

My rating: ☺☺☺/5

To purchase the book for yourself, you can find it at,,, or The Book Depository. Enjoy!