(3 Reels out of 5)
werewolves, and vampires! Oh my! The Mortal Instruments: City of
Bones is a monster mash of various paranormal creatures all
corralled together with reasonable success in a fun if confusing teen
description could easily be used for a host of other series like The
Vampires Diaries, Beautiful Creatures, or Percy
Jackson. Bones differs slightly by incorporating more
spiritual elements; the term “spiritual” and not “religious”
is deliberate because God is curiously absent in a world that
otherwise contains a multitude of heavenly and hellish beings. It
scrapes the bottom of the creative jar but still manages to pull out
a few remaining morsels.
Fray’s life seems pretty dull, but that’s only because her
memories have been erased by a warlock. On a whim one night, Fray
(played by Lily
Jane Collins, daughter of singer Phil Collins)
decides to enter a nightclub that is way over her
sixteen year-old maturity level with Simon, a cute hipster hopelessly
locked in the friend zone. Amongst the leather and bad music, she
sees a blonde hunk, Jace Wayland, who is invisible to everyone else.
Things only keep getting weirder when she returns home to find her
mother has been kidnapped and a demon/squid creature attacks her.
Jace returns to kill the demon and rush Clary to safety in an old
church called the Institute, also hidden from “mundanes,” members
of the human world.
quick exposition, Jace explains that this world is guarded by
shadowhunters, human/angel hybrids of extraordinary abilities who
keep the world safe from demons. “It’s a war we cannot win, but a
war that must be fought,” he explains, negating the Paschal Mystery
entirely. Jace needs Clary because she holds the key to finding the
Mortal Cup, which created the first shadowhunters and is
simultaneously pursed by werewolves, vampires, demons, and Valentine,
a rogue shadowhunter who is trying to create a pure race out of
human, angel, and demon blood.
this is all rather ridiculous. Yet Bones manages to rise above
its mundane premise, if only slightly, because it has moments of
great mystery and plucky supporting characters. There are crazy love
triangles and even love squares, with one revelation that was just as
shocking as its twin from a galaxy far, far away. The writers also
get credit for having a huge CGI fight between vampires and
werewolves without cracking a single Twilight joke.
obvious weakness in Bones is mixing various mythologies into
one cohesive storyline, but the writers are aware of this. While
showing Simon around the Institute, a shadowhunter lists off various
ways to kill demons, werewolves, and other creatures. “How do you
kill a zombie?” he asks. She gives him a quizzical look. “Zombies
don’t exist.” Zombies and vampires are rather similar and might
be redundant in the same story. However, if they suddenly showed up,
it would have made for an even better joke.
all the talk of angels and demons, religion should play a major role,
yet it is reduced to a few tiny references. Before Clary and the
shadowhunters fight the vampires, they stop by a Catholic church.
Clary enquires if the shadowhunters are Christian. Jace replies that
they could just as easily visit any synagogue, temple, or place of
worship for what they needed. He then moves the altar and opens a
trapdoor to reveal a stash of vampire hunting equipment including
knives, whips, and a gun that shoots launches a stake. The Roman
Missal states that relics are placed beneath the altar; thank
goodness Hollywood has revealed to the public another safely guarded
Vatican secret! The origins of the shadowhunters should be easily
recognizable to anyone who
has read Genesis, but the Nephilim are only mentioned in passing,
glossing over every geek’s favorite Bible passage.
more frustrating than the absence of the Nephilim, God appears
nowhere. It is incredible that so many demon or paranormal focused
films have no interest in the One who runs the show. This is probably
an attempt to please everyone, like Jace’s belief in the equality
of all religions in the fight against vampires, or a reflection of a
society that is increasingly secular and skeptical. However, it must
be admitted that were God present, the stakes would be much lower.
Look at the last book of the Bible. As Dr. Ron Farmer points out in
his commentary, Revelation,
the Apocalypse is one of the most anti-climatic stories of all time.
In chapter six, all the armies of Heaven and Hell gather at
Armageddon for the final battle, and the God simply pronounces, “It
is done!” God triumphsend of story. While God is never invoked,
paranormal movies rarely have a problem with witches, spells, or
runes. Characters frequently circumnavigate God’s appointed
spiritual routes to get what they want. Demons are clearly bad but
the occult is a gray area. Like Harry Potter, Bones
will not cause teenagers to become Satanists, but it does lower their
sensitivity to dark places they should never go near.
movie can be an entertaining experience if you are will put your
brain in the seat next to you, but Christians should never be willing
to remove their soul to enjoy a film. Bones is silly enough
that its problematic material will not be taken seriously, but it
requires a more mature teenage viewer to not passively accept
incorrect theology. It still remains to be seen if Hollywood can make
a riveting paranormal action film where religion is shown in a
respectful and truthful manner. The few films that come close are
almost always about exorcism, which at least requires a Catholic
priest. Bones is not such a film, but if werewolves vs. demons
is what is desired on a Friday night, it will do just fine. But
again, why no zombies?