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Parents' Guide to

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Teen-friendly fantasy romance doesn't live up to the book.

Movie PG-13 2013 120 minutes
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 14 parent reviews

age 17+

Adults only

Entertaining for adults. Not kid friendly. Glad I watched the series first or I would have been confused. The choice of lead actress was weird. If they went to the work of dying her hair red they could have done something with her massively huge black eyebrows. Regardless, it has violence, LGBTQ propoganda, and drinking.

This title has:

Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
1 person found this helpful.
age 15+

Graphic violence and peril

* Spoiler alert * We started watching this movie with our 11 and 13 year olds based on the parent reviews, and it was a mistake. Even I didn't care for the graphic violence, complete with full sound effects. A menacing dog turns into a slithering demon-thing and chases a girl until she blows it up with a fiery explosion, a man is savagely beaten until he fesses up to something. When the scary mouthless guy meets the 2 kids at the cemetery, we finally turned it off. Maybe my kids are sensitive, but I am anticipating nightmares coming soon. CSM's age recommendation is way off here.

This title has:

Too much violence
1 person found this helpful.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (14 ):
Kids say (60 ):

Aside from some humorous zingers and visually appealing set pieces, the first movie based on Clare's book franchise doesn't live up to the expectations of her large fandom. Clare's phenomenally popular novels are jam-packed with character development, plot twists, and thorough supernatural world building. The main problem with the film is that while all of the subplots and secondary characters -- not to mention an intricate cosmology about angels, demons, and other creatures of the light (or darkness) -- make complete sense in a 500-page novel, director Harald Zwart and screenwriter Jessica Postigo have trimmed altogether too much in some ways and not enough in others, creating a movie so convoluted and unresolved that it doesn't work as a stand-alone film.

Lovers of the series will appreciate that secondary characters like Simon and Isabelle (Jemima West) were cast perfectly; Sheehan is brilliant as Clary's nerdy, funny, devoted, and smitten best friend, Simon, while West is exactly the gorgeous, kick-butt warrior Clare describes. And High Warlock of Brooklyn Magnus Bane (model-actor Godfrey Gao) is every bit as magnetic as in the series. But overall, the leads leave much to be desired, and their love story -- so epic in the books -- seems laughably cliche in this adaptation. There's already a second film planned, so the filmmakers will need to drastically streamline the story and give more screen time to supporting players for it to work.

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