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The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones Review Critics


Dave White Profile

City of bores Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 2.0

    out of 100

    Generally unfavorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 30

    out of 100

    Village Voice

    The nomenclature varies slightly, but there's little new or exciting in City of Bones. For strong female role models and unique fantasy settings, stick with The Hunger Games.

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  • 38

    out of 100

    USA Today Scott Bowles

    Though it has flashes of promise, Bones traces the footsteps of its fantasy film predecessors too closely to blaze anything close to an original narrative.

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  • 40

    out of 100

    The New York Times Jeannette Catsoulis

    Too much of the film feels like shorthand, a trail of teasing crumbs to lead us to the inevitable sequels.

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  • 40

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Michael Rechtshaffen

    Despite the overstuffed assortment of vampires, werewolves, warlocks and demons of all shapes and sizes, The Mortal Instruments seldom feels like anything more than a shameless, soulless knockoff.

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  • 50

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    The storyline is at times muddled and incoherent. This won't bother readers much since they have the "inside track" on what's happening. Then again, the narrative is so predictable that maybe it doesn't matter.

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  • 63

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Bruce Ingram

    Everything chugs along briskly and reasonably entertainingly until running off the rails a bit with a wildly overcomplicated finale.

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  • See all The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 13+

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

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is based on Cassandra Clare's best-selling urban fantasy series about warriors, demons, vampires, and werewolves and is the first film in a proposed action-fantasy franchise. Expect a lot of violent confrontations in the movie -- mostly using special blades and swords -- including scenes of torture and even death. Language is mild ("damn," "what the hell," etc.), and romance is limited to longing looks, a big kiss, and some sexy outfits. Like the book it's based on, the movie features a diverse cast and a brave female protagonist.

  • Families can talk about page-to-screen adaptations. How does The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones compare to the book? What are the main differences? What scenes from the book did you miss?
  • There's a lot of violence in the storytelling here. How do you think the peril compared to other young adult-based films like Twilight or The Hunger Games?
  • There's a theme that "all the stories are true" -- except for zombies. Which supernatural stories or creatures do you wish actually existed?

The good stuff
  • message true3

    Messages: Like the book, the movie stresses the bravery of teens, the importance of adolescent friendships, and the difficulty (but necessity) of being open about your true self. It also explores how family is more than a connection by blood.

  • rolemodels true3

    Role models: Clary and Simon are incredibly brave in the face of danger. The Shadowhunters -- Jace, Alec, Isabel -- are all courageous, but they've been trained as warriors. Magnus is a "downworlder" warlock, but he still helps the Shadowhunters when they need it. Clary's mother was determined to keep her safe and hidden from supernatural forces. The cast is notably diverse.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: Lots of Shadowhunter-on-demon violence, and a couple of the demons are particularly frightening and gross. The Shadowhunters use blades and swords of all sizes (kindjals, chakrams, regular hand knives), as well as spears, vampire guns, and more. A swarm of vampires tries to kill or bite Clary and her friends and manages to land a bite on one unsuspecting character. Werewolves bite and kill demons; the villain and his thugs torture people, and several people come to blows. The body count includes several "extras." A major character is nearly killed, while others are seriously injured.

  • sex false2

    Sex: Clary and Jace gaze at each other longingly and eventually share a long kiss. Magnus Bane wears a revealing outfit (blazer, no shirt, boxer briefs) and flirts with Alec. A family secret alludes to the possibility of a forbidden relationship.

  • language false1

    Language: Language includes "damn," "what the hell," "shut up," "crazy," and use of the word "mundane" as if it's pejorative, as well as "oh my God" and "Jesus" (as an exclamation).

  • consumerism false2

    Consumerism: A major character drives a Dodge Ram, an iPhone rings in several key scenes, there's a fight in front of a Rue 21, and Clary uses an Apple MacBook.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false1

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: There's drinking at a warlock's party, where vampires spike the drink of a human partygoer with a sort of debilitating liquid.