Reel Toronto: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
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Reel Toronto: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

Demon-slaying New York teens try to kick-start a fantasy franchise on the streets of fair Toronto.

Toronto’s extensive work on the silver screen reveals that, while we have the chameleonic ability to look like anywhere from New York City to Moscow, the disguise doesn’t always hold up to scrutiny. Reel Toronto revels in digging up and displaying the films that attempt to mask, hide, or—in rare cases—proudly display our city.

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We don’t claim to be experts in this whole “Young Adult” fiction thing the kids are into these days, nor the non-stop barrage of film adaptations going on since Harry Potter hit the scene. We do know that “The Other Hollywood North,” Vancouver, got to host all those movies about sexy vampires and werewolves, so good for them. But here, with the unwieldily named The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, we finally get our slice of the pie. Yes, a decently disguised Toronto takes its turn as a New York populated largely by attractive, demon-slaying teens, and the kids were all excited when TMI, as they call it, came to town to shoot. Then it came out, posting an amazingly low 12 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes but making about $90 million at the box office. Not great, but not so bad when you consider it’s actually a Canadian movie (co-financed with Germany).

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Like in any good New York movie, we get some lovely stock helicopter shots like this…

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…and this.

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But then we get down to street level and, yep, the Empire State Building is back there so we must be in New York still—except, are those streetcar tracks? Yes, this is actually…

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…the apparently now-closed Cafe Mascot, out on Queen Street West.

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Oooh, just look at this brooding (but handsome!) fellow, with this shop clearly visible behind him.

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A little more Queen West here, as we run past Chantecler and the adjacent beauty salon.

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And, oops! It’s one thing to have some “New York” cabs running down the street for verisimilitude, but when they’re in the shot, they should probably be moving, not standing behind obvious “we’re filming something” traffic pylons, eh?

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Yes, our heroine, Clary Fray, lives somewhere in the New York suburbs, in this lovely house.

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We get a wider view of the street at the end, revealing it to be Cabbagetown’s Salisbury Avenue.

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Here are our heroes riding a TTC car…

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…out of our most popular New York subway stop, Lower Bay.

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A key location is Garroway Books…

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…actually the Hole in the Wall, in the Junction. (What’s really cool is that the link shows a film crew and New York cabs outside the joint and the picture is from September 2012—right when they were filming—so it’s a safe bet you’re seeing the magic of Hollywood before your very eyes!)

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The heroic Shadowhunters hang out at their institute…

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…the always photogenic Knox College…

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…at U of T.

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Some other interiors were shot at Casa Loma, which was practically made for a movie like this.

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The run-down Hotel Dumort was actually shot down the QEW, in Hamilton…

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…at the former Royal Connaught Hotel, which is now home to some lovely looking condos.

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You don’t get a good look at the exterior…

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…but this alleyway outside Club Pandemonium is just behind Mercer Street. (Get the name there? Pan-demon-ium? Cuz they fight demons?)

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They head into the rear door, but the interiors seem to have been shot right there, at Maison Mercer.

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Of course this photogenic greenhouse…

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…is merely Allan Gardens. It hasn’t seemed so romantic since Chloe.

City of Bones racked up a mediocre box office, but there are six books in the series—so are we in for more movies? Despite gab about coming back to town to film the next one, City of Ashes, it hasn’t happened yet. Don’t they know it hauled in four Canadian Screen Awards (all tech categories, however)? It also suffered a still-shocking loss to the Chicago-shot Divergent at the Fox Teen Choice Awards. You win this round, Divergent and Hunger Games, but our CanCon kick at the YA can still has five more chances to show you how it’s done!