So I was very lucky to be invited to an early screening of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones on the 19th August 2013 in London.
This is my review of the film and it does contain **SPOILERS**
Well… first off I want to give a massive congratulations to everyone involved with bringing Cassandra Clare’s book to the big screen. It is a great adaptation of Cassie’s story. I completely understand that it is not possible to put everything into the film otherwise the film will be like 5 hours long (which I totally would have sat through easily). I also understand that you sometime have to change things to be more watchable by the audience.
That being said, nearly everything that was changed and moved around was absolutely fine, just a couple of things irritated me which I will go onto later.
I think the effects in the film look great and very refreshing to not have stupid over the top effects that we see in most films nowadays. It’s simple and effective. Just what you want.
Characterization is fantastic in the film. Lots of complex characters but the actors really pull through that to show every single layer of that character. I’ve got a section at the bottom of each character and what I liked and disliked about the actors performances so won’t go into too much detail here, but I think that the majority of the actors completely filled the shoes of their characters. Sometimes with young actors you can tell they may be inexperienced but all the young actors came across just how we wanted them to. I think Director Harald Zwart, Casting Director Stephanie Corsalini and the rest of the team did a great job in finding the right actors for their parts.
The same with the more mature actors such as Johnathan Rhys Meyers, Lena Heady, Aidan Turner and Jared Harris. These guys have had years of experience from other projects and are absolutely fantastic in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. As we all know, these characters are not in the first book too much, but when they are on the screen they really do shine. Amazing.
The three performances that were not all up to what I expected was Godfrey Gao, Kevin Durand and Robert Maillet. I’ve read a few other reviews and a few of them were really not loving Godfrey as Magnus. I didn’t think he was as bad as a few made out to be in my opinion but he wasn’t up to the same standards of everyone else. He lacked the over the top, ‘I’m the king of this party’ sort of flare Magnus has in the books. But this is Godfrey’s first English speaking role in a movie, so I definitely believe he will grow as an actor as the future films come out. With Robert and Kevin, I’m guessing it’s the script and direction they were given, but they really dumbed down the characters of Pangborn and Blackwell which was such a shame. When I read the books I was terrified of these guys, and they do have some good moments in the film, but I really felt like I was watching Mackenzie Crook and Lee Arenberg in Pirates of the Caribbean. Oh well. At least they are not on the screen too much.
The scenery and sets in the film are absolutely amazing, like perfect really. Makes me really want to go to New York now. My favourite set was probably the Library in the Institute. It is really something. It’s a shame we’ve seen so many pictures of the library so it wasn’t a complete ‘OH MY GOD’ moment, but it was beautiful.
After having a bit of time to think about it, I think my favourite scene is when Clary is in the City of Bones trying to remember her past that Magnus’s block made her forget and we get to see young Lily meeting Luke and when she use to visit Magnus when she was younger.
In regards to what has been changed from the book, well there are a load of great scenes that are not in the film. Like one of my favourite scenes in the whole book series is the scene when Jemima is making the soup. It’s funny and a great scene with all the main characters, and shows the close relationship between the Lightwood siblings and Jace. They treat him like a brother, whereas in the film you don’t get a sense of that.
They have changed a lot of the story when it comes to Valentine. Obviously his whole look is different, but pushing that aside, when we are introduced to Valentine when he gets the mortal cup from Hodge he comes to them in the institute which obviously happens in the book, but we don’t see them going to him lair and kill off the forsaken, and the werewolves don’t come to help them defeat Valentine. One of my favourite things about the ending of the book is seeing Luke and Valentine’s scene, so it’s a real shame we didn’t get that. We do get some good flash backs from The Circle years which showed them all kicking ass. I think what they did do in the film with Valentine was still really good, but I prefer how Cassie wrote it in her book.
Another thing that I was not a 100% fan on was the ending. It was a bit of an anti-climatic ending after all that fighting in the institute then you see Clary go home and do some Matilda or Mary Poppins style tidying of her apartment and then getting on the motorbike with Jace with them talking about how they don’t believe they are siblings. So the motorbike bit does happen in the book, but it’s unfortunately really cheesy on film.
I loved the Greenhouse scene but it was cheesy. But it was good cheese 🙂 the sprinklers coming on after they kiss is what mainly makes it cheesy, and it is really not needed in the film but because the scene is really sweet it’s not a huge issue.
My favourite line in the film has got to be “where did he get the car from?” or something like that that Simon says to Jace after he killed the two cop. So funny!!
So even though I felt like it could have been better in certain places, overall it is definitely one of my favourite films. I would give it about 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Bring on City of Ashes!!!
My opinion on the actors as their characters:
Lily Collins as Clary Fray. I think this is the best acting we’ve ever seen of her in any of her films. She definitely took on the role of Clary and put everything she has into the character. Clary has never been one of my favourite characters in the book but Lily has turned me into a free wheeling Clary loving machine! 😛 Some of Lily’s scenes with Jamie got a bit cheesy, but overall Lily was definitely the best person to play Clary and I couldn’t imagine anyone else 🙂
Jamie Campbell Bower as Jace Wayland. Well… well… well… Jamie definitely proved himself as Jace! I haven’t doubted his boy at all. Never. But I obviously know a few people haven’t always agreed with me and I may have retaliated a bit with those non-believers but I definitely think Jamie gets the last laugh! He is just amazing! Every little thing he does in the film just screams Jace. What a wonderful actor that guy is! He has always said in interviews how vulnerable Jace is but that he puts on this front to look stronger… well Jamie plays it perfectly. It’s mainly through his facial expressions when Jace thinks no one is looking at him, you see the vulnerable side of him. There are a couple of moments where I wish he had a bit more enthusiasm in his voice on some of the funnier lines, add some more Jamie-flare, but I think that was only a few times that I wanted that. Again, a few cheesy scenes with Clary, but watchable still so that’s the main thing.
Robert Sheehan as Simon Lewis. By the angel! That boy! I just can’t get over how PERFECT he was as Simon. Simon is my favourite character in the TMI series and when they cast Robbie I was over the moon. I hadn’t seen him in any other film or TV show at the time, but visually he was the perfect Simon I imagined in my head. Luckily for us, he can also act in the exact way I wanted from the character. Hands down the performance of the film. Perfect. Mainly all his main acting points come from his facial expressions or when he’s in the background. It shows how great of an actor someone is if they can still stand out in the background, and Robbie definitely does that! There is only one line through the whole film I wish he either didn’t say or maybe acted differently which can be see” in the ‘Institute’ clip that has been on the internet for a few weeks now and that’s when he says “Do something, Jace!” That is the only thing I would change in the film for Robbie. 3 words!
Jemima West as Isabelle Lightwood. We didn’t get to see enough of Jemima in the film in my opinion but when we did it was absolutely perfect. Izzy is a badass character and Jemima definitely brings that across in her acting. Some amazing stunts and perfect acting all around for Jemima. I can’t think of a single thing I would change about her except that she should get more screen time in the future films! Quite a few of my favourite scenes from Izzy in the books had to be cut from the film which was a shame, but like I said hopefully we’ll get more Izzy in the future. And I totally had major Sizzy feels in a few scenes!! 😛
Kevin Zegers as Alec Lightwood. Again, like Izzy we don’t get to see enough of him in the film. But what we do see is Alec all over. Very moody and protective of Jace. His hatred for Clary at the beginning of the series comes off perfectly. A lot of people worried about Kevin looking much older than the rest of the cast, well I didn’t think about it once in the film. So again, please can we get more Alec in the next film? Thank you 🙂
Godfrey Gao as Magnus Bane. So… reading other sites reports it seems that Godfrey is most people’s least favourite in the film. Well… in my opinion I kind of agree, but I don’t think he’s as bad as some sites make him out to be. Yes it’s cheesy but this is Magnus Bane we are talking about! For Godfrey’s first English speaking, I think he did pretty well. He’s only in the film two scenes and those two scenes are quite short, but I think they are watchable. On the plus side… he is SMOKING HOT! But not enough glitter.
Lena Headey as Jocelyn Fray. Awesome. Amazing. Perfect. Not enough of Lena in the film for obvious reasons if you’ve read the book so I wish we saw more of her, but as that was not possible, what we did see was perfect. Pulled off Jocelyn’s protective but loving self that I imagined in the book.
Aidan Turner as Luke Garroway. Gosh, this man is a bit amazing, right? When I read the books I literally pictured pretty much Aidan Turner as Luke, and he does not disappoint! He is just amazing in the film like he is in all of his films and TV shows. A couple of times I couldn’t help but think of Kili from The Hobbit, but that didn’t put me off and only took me out of the film for a split second.
Johnathan Rhys Meyers as Valentine Morgenstein. Okay… I, like many others, am still a bit confused with the hair style and colour for Valentine… but that didn’t put me off Johnathan’s acting in the role. He really pulled off a psycho villain that we all wanted from Valentine. Got some serious action sequences that included this man, and they were done really well. Looking forward to seeing more of the Valentine in the next couple of films.
Kevin Durand and Robert Maillet as Pangborn and Blackwell. I’m not sure why but they kind of dumbed down these two characters a lot. Pangborn was the worst for it, I just thought of Mackenzie Crook as Ragetti is The Pirates of the Caribbean. Funny, but not necessary in my opinion. Great scene with Luke though.
So that’s my review from watching it the first time, however I might add to it after I’ve watched it a couple of times. We’ll see.
Sorry it is super long. But I had lots to say 🙂