Thursday, April 3, 2014

MOVIE REVIEW: City of Bones

Fear of taboo can ruin a story.

When the movie adaption of Cassandra Clare's "City of Bones" came out last summer I was first in line. I was also last out of the theater, wallowing in disappointment while the credits rolled. The film failed due to the fear of flowers in the attic. I just watched it again on cable with my children and I stand by my wallow.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not a proponent of incest.  What  I am against is society putting its issues in front of a good story.

Who doesn't groan "Ew!" after their second viewing of "The Empire Strikes Back" when Leia kisses Luke. But that storyline got a chance to play out in "The Return of the Jedi." Why couldn't they do the same with "City of Bones?"

The major nail biting incident in the book was the substance over Clary and Jace's bond. Readers are led to believe that Clary will be the girl to tame bad boy, demon hunter with the face and strength of an angel, Jace. We are invested in this time-tested trope because what girl doesn't want to believe she's special enough to reign that in. At the end of the book we get the floor pulled out from under us with the circumstantial evidence that the two are blood related.


Clare keeps our hearts pounding in the second installment "City of Ashes" with pages of are they? aren't'? will they? won't they? We don't learn the
truth of their blood until we are nearing the finish line. Unfortunately, the filmmakers were not this brave. They took this huge part of the story and spoiled it in the movie. We watch the bad guys concoct a ruse with the transparent purpose of keeping movie-going parents happy so that they don't have to explain incest to their adolescents.

They're falling in love. Let's tell them they're brother and sister.

Oh good one, mate! They're kicking our arses. That'll put a stop to it. Plus they'll believe us because we're the bad guys!

It didn't work. It completely dissipated the angst and sounded really stupid. I'm a huge fan of letting the reader know more than the character. But this was one of those times where it would have pulled more tension if we'd all been kept in the dark.

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