I’m a fan of the books, and I went to see this movie last night, and let me just say that I loved it. It had its flaws, and awkward moments, but ultimately it was really fun and I felt like I was being thrust in Cassandra Clare’s world right from the beginning. The feel of the movie was good, the pacing was good, and even if some bits from the novel were changed or even completely different, the overarching feel of the movie was perfect. Beware, spoilers ahead.
I think this movie was definitely catered to the fans of the book series. If you hadn’t read City of Bones, you might have enjoyed it, sure, but you probably would have been fairly confused. The film tried to stuff in an entire explanation of the Shadowhunter mythology in the first hour, and if you weren’t concentrating, you could easily miss an important point. Book fans would have loved the detail, whereas first timers would just get lost.
I also sometimes felt like two different movies were happening at once. There was the funny, adventurous fantasy film, (and I hate comparing fandoms but it was good in that it was more Harry Potter than Twilight) and then there was a few bits that just didn’t seem to fit. Small cheesy, random bits that sort of took you away from the fast-paced movement of the film. For instance, in the greenhouse scene with Jace and Clary. Suddenly, out of nowhere and completely uncalled for, Demi Lovato’s “Heart by Heart” begins to play. The music turned the blossoming romance into a cheesy lovefest. Which sucks, because the Clary/ Jace romance is great. Demi Lovato just had to come in and ruin the party.
Also the bit where Jace picked off a piece of the portal, put it next to Clary’s face, and then proceeded to stroke her face through the portal. What was up with that? Writers, get it together. It didn’t fit with the story, and was utterly cringeworthy.
Bach is a Shadowhunter? That was also stupid. Just, no. NO.
Fortunately, the few cheesy scenes didn’t completely ruin the movie. They were small blips, and I mostly just laughed at them and then didn’t really think about them until after the movie. And despite the cheesy Demi Lovato music, the Clary/ Jace kiss was still adorable. They still had great chemistry.
Apart from the Lovato dilemma, the soundtrack was pretty good. I downloaded it before watching the movie, and it wasn’t spectacular, but there were a few great songs that supplemented Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter world perfectly.
I liked that the romance wasn’t the focus of the movie. I also really liked the special effects. The demons were terrifying and disgusting and I loved that and the Institute was beautiful and made me want to go there so badly. The humour of the books was there, some of the lines taken straight out of the books, and it didn’t feel awkward or forced at all – the jabs made about Luke’s wolfy side were hilarious.
Onto the characters, and the actors that played them. Firstly, I was worried Lily Collins would play a hopeless lead. She has only been in a small handful of movies and was pretty awful in Abduction (2011). But she really surprised me, and made me love Clary’s character even more. She was a cool heroine, and I also love that she didn’t always look beautiful (especially after a fight scene), she looked sweaty and kinda gross and it was realistic which was great. Jamie Campbell-Bower was equally great as Jace, he had the snarky, sarcastic personality of Jace that I’ve grown to love. A lot of people are hating on Jamie, saying he looked ugly or anorexic (really, people?) but I think he was just skinny in a way that Jace is meant to be. I actually also really liked how Jace wasn’t this stereotypical brooding, buff guy – if he was it would have made Clary look like a one-dimensional character, just falling for Jace because of his body, never mind that he is a bit of a douche to her. Jace being skinny and only averagely attractive went against the teen fiction norm. Instead of being a pretty boy, he was a rugged fighter whose life is a constant battle.
Clary and Jace together had great chemistry, it felt totally natural. Of course, movie fans may have been more than a little confounded by the whole incest thing at the end of the movie, but it was dealt with in a way that made it feel sufficiently awkward, rather than another Luke and Leia scenario. But Jace and Clary’s romance was great because it wasn’t really a love triangle. It mostly definitely wasn’t the girl falling for a supernatural being just because he’s this really handsome dude. Sure, in the first book (and movie for that matter) it seems like Simon is part of a love triangle with the other two, but as the series and films progress, it will become pretty evident that he isn’t really a part of that at all.
Robert Sheehan as Simon. I am speechless. Simon was definitely my favourite character, alongside Aidan Turner as Luke. Robert’s American accent was perfect, he was funny and extremely likeable and also completely adorable, and I loved him. I also really liked the little hints to him becoming a vampire in the next film (although him suddenly not needing his glasses anymore was a tad over the top). Aidan was also extremely likeable as Clary’s “Uncle” Luke, and I got really excited everytime he was on screen. He became an important character in his own right, which I really liked, as Luke Garroway is one of my favourite characters in the books.
Jemima West was great as Isabelle, and I found myself liking her a lot more than I did with the book version of Isabelle, who is pretty mean to Clary right from the start. Isabelle was badass and cool, and the little bits alluding to her and Simon later on… I was really excited. Kevin Zegers as Alec. I was conflicted with him, because he had such little screen time, and was basically unconscious the majority of the time. I wish they had done a short little scene where he wakes up and redeems himself with Clary (it happens in the book).
Godfrey Gao was great as Magnus, despite the fact that his voice was a little off at the party (dubbed incorrectly, so not his fault really) but I really liked his accent (not sure why so many people are hating it). He was Magnus in every way. He is an example of completely perfect casting. I also liked the little bits of Alec/ Magnus although I wish there had been more of both of them together on screen.
Finally, Valentine. This is where I get critical. Because Valentine is meant to be a blonde-haired, clean-suited villain – the movie Valentine was more vicious and overdramatic, a bit like Bane in The Dark Knight Rises. He should have been a bit like Moriarty in Sherlock, more of a politician, good with words and leading you to his cause, and then using his henchmen to do the majority of the dirty work. Movie Valentine was uninteresting and had a lack of character development. When he was talking to Jace in his Batman-esque voice, I could only laugh and whisper “I am your Father” to my friend beside me. And the dreadlocks? Really? How do you expect me to believe that Jocelyn was in love with and had two kids with that guy?
Anyways, horrible villains and Demi Lovato aside, the movie was pretty fantastic. It was an awful lot of fun, and I can’t wait to go and see it again. I would give City of Bones an 8/10. A lot of the critics at the moment are giving it horrible reviews, (13% on Rotten Tomatoes at the moment, which makes no sense at all) but don’t listen to them, they clearly are incapable of having any fun in their lives or are unable to understand that movies are for entertainment, not just to be all artsy fartsy. If you are a fan of the books, don’t be too critical, it doesn’t keep every aspect but does them justice, managing to keep the atmosphere of Cassie’s series. If you aren’t a fan, go check it out, although I honestly recommend reading the books first.