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August 21, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The instrument of choice that virtually every critic has administered to Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is the hammer. Their blows have indeed been mortal. Now, most movie reviews ordinarily include a summary of the plot. Kyle Smith’s in the New York Post is no exception. Except that Smith admits that the film includes so many special effects that he often couldn’t figure out what was going on. “Let’s see,” Smith writes, “draw this sword away from this evil pentagram, which will close the skylight that sent a beam of light over Manhattan, which will calm the evil bats but…anyway the main action is in the other room and there are these friendly werewolves who have promised not to turn wolfy but kinda do anyway, and they’re up against these alien monsters who look like they’re made of ash and apparently freeze if you flash the right rune at them, but we don’t know that until after it happens, which just seems random.” Smith quotes a closing line: “‘I understand what you did, and I forgive you.” Says Smith about both responses, “Well, I don’t, and I don’t.” At the end of Jeannette Catsoulis’s review in the New York Times, there’s an explanation of why the movie is rated PG-13. “Parents strongly cautioned,” it says, because the film includes “a bit of heterosexual kissing, a hint of homosexual longing and a creatively deployed frying pan.” Many critics simply complain that the story contains elements of a host of successful fantasy films without offering anything that is original or unusual. Scott Bowles in USA Today comments that it “can’t decide which franchise it wants to ape: Twilight, Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings. So it tries to mimic all three, leaving [it] … with a nasty split personality.” Mark Olsen in the Los Angeles Times calls it “just a sloppy rag bag of ideas cobbled from other stories.” And to Peter Hartlaub in the San Francisco Chronicle, it’s just “a bad movie, with too much exposition, ridiculous dialogue, an unsympathetic heroine and a love triangle that goes nowhere, like a season of Three’s Company.” Several critics remark that the film will probably attract a large crowd of young readers of the fantasy novel on which it is based. But Stephanie Merry in the Washington Post remarks that “even by teen romance standards, [it’s] cringe-worthy in its cheesiness.”