Today is release day for the highly anticipated "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones." The film is the first book to film release for Cassandra Clare's Internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series. The sequel, "The Mortal Instruments: City of Ashes" is set for September production. It's an exciting time for fans of the series and time for new fans to jump on board because the film is simply amazing. It delivers the quick whit, action, romance and suspense that Clare is known for while bringing the characters to life on film through exceptional acting and smart affects.
I had the privilege of viewing “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” early at the media screening and then again at the Los Angeles premiere. I previously published a spoiler-free review. In celebration of the film’s release today, below is my spoiler-filled review. Please note that it does contain spoilers to the film as well as the book!
The best part of “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” is its acting. The cast obviously embraced Cassandra Clare’s world and characters and there is no weak performance from this talented cast. A great example of this is after Clary (Lily Collins) is saved by that first demon. I love how she stomps and is eager to fight the beast even after Jace (Jame Campbell Bower) has killed it. Collins embodies the spontaneity and courage that fans want to see and expect to see from Clary.
Robert Sheehan is phenomenal as Simon Lewis. Even when he isn’t the focus of a scene he embodies Simon in even the slightest of his movements. His mannerisms are perfected and I already can’t wait to see how Sheehan will play Simon in “The Mortal Instruments: City of Ashes.” If you’ve read the sequel then you know that Simon will experience a lot of change in the next film.
I laugh now when I recall the panic and complaints from the fandom when Jamie Campbell Bower was cast to play Jace Wayland. He is the perfect Jace and after seeing the film twice now I cannot imagine anyone else bringing the fierceness, humor, and vulnerability of Jace to these films. I know that many sites have said it but that look on Bower’s face when Clary runs into Simon’s arms to hug him is priceless. Jace is a tough character to play not because of his physical abilities as a shadowhunter but because of his weaknesses and vulnerabilities that make him human. Bower plays Jace’s mixture of emotions to perfection and I can’t wait to see him develop as an actor through playing this complex character.
Lily Collins continues to prove herself a quality actress. Back when Collins was cast as Clary she had few credits to her name. Now she’s quickly adding credits and becoming a true star. Her performance in this film will only help her grow as an actress and A-list star.
As I’ve said before, the entire cast is amazing so I’m not going to go down the list and be redundant. On to the story itself. With any book to film adaptation change is inevitable. Somethings just don’t translate to screen as well as they do on page. Sometimes it’s a budget issue or sometimes the special effects just won’t do the moment justice. Whatever the reason is, fans of “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” book will notice changes in the film. With that being said, the changes do not change the characters that we love in the books and I promise you will love in the film. In fact, you may have noticed that there was more backstory factored into the film. For example, we don’t learn that Valentine experimented with demon blood until “City of Glass.” We now learn this in the first film, which further develops Valentine as a true villain.
Now for the change that you all want to talk about, the incest issue. This was handled differently in the film as it was in the book. Think about it from a studio perspective. This is a great chance to introduce new fans to Clare’s story. The studio needed to be careful on how it handled the issue of incest so it wouldn’t offend and polarize new fans but rather grow the fandom to justify a new and strong franchise.
When I met with the cast in Los Angeles I spoke about this issue of the big reveal with actor Jared Harris, who played Hodge in the film. From seeing the film you know that Valentine and Hodge are involved in the reveal and the big lie. The big lie being that Clary and Jace aren’t siblings but they will be led to believe that they are.
“There is a difference in telling a story in literature versus film. The audience doesn’t have as much time for the set up. It’s such a shock and jars with peoples experience. That’s why we wanted to drop the hint of the lie,” explained Harris. I see why this change was made and agree with it but Harris’ explanation is perfect and understandable. I also think that this further develops Valentine as the villain that he is. I also loved how the book's quote, "to love is to destroy" was used during this moment in the film.
Another big change in the film that fans will notice is that Isabelle and Alec are in the Hotel Dumort scene. Now, we knew that this change was coming because of comments made during the filming process. Kevin Zegers and Jemima West are perfect as the Lightwood siblings and I’m glad they got more screen time. This also helped to further develop these characters.
Simon’s capture to Hotel Dumort was an accident in the book while it was intentional in the film. In the film the vampires wanted the cup, everyone wanted the mortal cup. This change kept the plot moving forward and the cup was the focus and the reasoning behind Clary becoming part of her new world.
The film leads into its sequel. A big question is answered; Clary is a Shadowhunter and a very powerful one. However, her mother is still in a coma and Valentine is still out there. Clary and Jace believe that they are siblings. Simon was bitten by a vampire and will have to deal with that in the next film. Magnus saved Alec. There are so many exciting things to come in this franchise.
Be sure to spread the word about “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.” See it as many times as you want and help boost sales for opening weekend. Hollywood cares about numbers and those numbers will be important to the franchise and how future films are handled. Tweet your reactions by using the hashtag, #TMIMovieReactions.
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