It’s not always an easy task to create movies based on a series of well-liked books, especially those that have plenty of historical context that needs to be explained. The Lord of the Rings is a famous example of a film that gets the pre-narrative information out of the way early, by explaining the history of the ring in a story at the beginning of the first franchise film and coloring in other details later. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones doesn’t get that luxury. Since the story is one of a girl named Clary learning about her past and her unique role as a member of a society of Shadowhunters, an exclusive crew who protects the world from demons, the background details need to come out throughout the film. Unfortunately, this means the movie lacks some of the subtlety of its novel counterpart.

Jessica Prostigo was responsible for the screenplay that adapted Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones and director Harald Zwart brought it to the big screen. While they maintain the barebones outline of the narrative, a lot is changed from the book to the movie, including the opening scene. The earlier that details begin changing when being adapted for the big screen, the more the storyline will have to change later, and this is an issue The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones runs up against, again and again.

Following are the ten biggest changes I noticed in my screening of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. Feel free to remark on any changes you feel may have been more noticeable. There are many spoilers in City of Bones book to movie comparison. Do not delve in if you want the film to be a surprise.


The opening scene introduces us to Clary, Luke and Jocelyn rather than the world of demon hunting. Clary’s been drawing a mysterious mark and her mother seems worried, but why she might be on edge isn’t explained. While this is less exciting than the opening sequence in the book, it does give us a glimpse at the haphazard unit that is the Fray family and we do get the fun club scene later on.

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