Yesterday’s blog post was a review of a book called “City Of Bones” By Cassandra Clare (see Confessions Of A Bookaholic – Introducing “The Mortal Instruments” for the book review) and it was a total win. In fact, I had planned for it to be June’s top noteworthy fiction pick, before I discontinued those posts. In my review of the book, however, I mentioned that the movie, which I would have expected to be wildly popular, flopped. I hadn’t seen the movie when I wrote that post, but now that I have I want that 130 minutes of my life back! I admit, I can be a biased reviewer on things that I like (or should like). When it comes to movies, if it is of a book I like, has an actress or actor I like, or is in a genre I like – I am not nearly as harsh as other reviewers may be. But there was not one redeeming thing about this movie and after twenty minutes I found myself continually checking how much time had passed and just wished it would end quickly.
But the question remains, why did the movie fail? You have a cast of talented actors and actresses and a fantastic story that should mean instant audience and catapult the film to at least the level of success as Harry Potter or The Hunger Games without needing to be innovative or win any awards.
I have a few ideas as to why, and here they are:
1. The Adaptation
The story was pretty much butchered. It was like the writers and directors had no sense of time management because the film is still over two hours and yet most of the story was completely lost and the parts that were maintained were rushed. The first five minutes felt rushed, and not in a hit the ground running kind of way, but in the way that makes you think ‘What the hell?’ The entire movie was like this, lingering only on moments that did not matter in terms of serving the story or the characters. There were also several original moments to the film that were not in the book (and sometimes went against it) where the film lingered, but they always fell flat. The truth is this movie went off-book and I don’t mean in its small liberties, but even down to the motivation and plan of the villain. Sure, they kept the villain the same, but they changed his goal, his endgame. This changes everything.
Obviously the adaptation is to blame, but how could producers and directors accept this in the first place? Sometimes, you don’t know if something will work off the page, like it does on the page, but I can’t imagine this ever worked, even on the page. So many people dropped the ball here, and it’s very, very sad.
2. The Performances
I don’t know what to say about the performances and want to either blame the writing or the director, because the performers in this movie have proven chops in several other film and television projects. When you take a cast of talented actors and actresses (some seasoned and others fresh) and yet they all end up sucking – every single one – I find it hard to fault the performers themselves. At first, I thought the leads needed to be recast. There was no connection to their characters or chemistry with each other. Then I also thought this about every single supporting character and then even the cameos! Something else must be going on that causes every performance in the film to be so terrible, but regardless of the reason, every character is nothing but surface, incapable of connecting to the audience, each other and even themselves. This made me sad, because the character of Clary and the rest of the gang (Simon, Jace, Alec and Isabelle) were all bad-ass in their own ways, and here they are not, nor are they that distinguishable from one another. I hated watching them ruin the characters I had enjoyed so much.
I already went into this to some degree, but decided it needed its own heading, because it was a big problem. The entire movie felt rushed, and very, very sloppy. Yes, the book was a decent length (485 pages) but so was nearly every Harry Potter book and yet with the Harry Potter series, they were able to squeeze an entire book into a movie (with the exception of the last book that was split) and most of those books had a much higher page count.
The pacing, along with corrupting the story and affecting the characters to be nothing more than shells were the principal problems with the film, but there is one final problem to address…
I think there was an arrogance on the producers’, the director’s and even the studio’s parts that this would be an instant success and they didn’t really have to be mindful of the choices they made or how they promoted the film, whatsoever. MISTAKE! I again question how so many bad choices could be made by the experienced power players associated with making a movie. It is not like this was a first-time director, with only first-time producers at a studio that just formed. What the hell happened?
They were arrogant and careless. I have also read about how the promotion for this film was lacking, so let me add lazy to the list as well. (Or maybe they just realized, “Oh crap, this sucks.”) I am not necessarily in the loop when it comes to mainstream pop culture, but I am not out of the loop either and the movie should have clued me into the book’s existence when it was released. Instead, the cover of the book said it had been made into a major motion picture and I had to search the movie out.
There is no forgiving a movie this bad. For a film that should have been stellar, without needing to be innovative or clever, how bad it is, is actually painful. Some people complain about movies not following books or how they cannot live up to the books they come from, but this movie is just terrible every way you look at it. There goes 130 minutes I’m never getting back, and I hope you will spare yourself a similar fate.