I wanted to see this movie. I mean, I had read the book three times, so you could say it’s a favorite. And of course, to see it brought to life on the big screen was just something that I couldn’t pass up.
Initially, I was unimpressed with the casting.
I am not a fan of skinny blond guys, and I always kinda thought that Jamie Campbell Bower looked…unwashed. To say I was skeptical would be kind. Jace is the epitome of the perfect bad boy guy, he has a heart of gold and is snarky, incredibly smart, sarcastic, and pretty much an all around bad-ass. So I think that going in, Jace would be very difficult to cast. He’s a very much beloved character and he had to be perfect and I think a lot of people were disappointed. Many wanted Alex Pettyfer, but I am NOT a fan, so I was relieved when they didn’t go in that direction (plus, he’s just too old). After my initial skepticism, though, I warmed up to JCB. Seeing the pictures after they started filming helped a great deal toward me accepting him, but then we saw the trailer, and holy hot sauce, I climbed on board that train and I became convinced, before even seeing the movie, that JCB made the perfect Jace. His androgynous beauty totally turned me into a fan. Plus the voice, gah!
Honestly, the rest of the characters didn’t mean as much to me as Jace did, but I really think they did a fantastic job with the majority of the casting decisions. Simon, in particular, was perfect.
Robert Sheehan brought every facet of Simon’s character to life. He was absolutely perfect. Funny, self-depricating, in love with Clary…I can’t say enough about him. Great job, there, casting peeps.
The majority of the rest of the cast was just okay with me, they did perfectly fine jobs. I actually really liked Lena Headey as Jocelyn Fray, but to see her in a contemporary setting was a bit jarring. I just realized while watching Mortal Instruments that she could pass for Kiera Knightly’s older sister. They even talk the same way.
But anyway…back to the casting. Everyone else, I thought, did a great job. They all fit their characters very well. I read somewhere that someone had an issue with Magnus, played by Godfrey Gao, but I liked him and I saw nothing wrong with his characterization of Magnus. He actually didn’t have a lot of screen time, which is unfortunate, because he sure is pretty.
Now that I’ve covered the characters, let me discuss the actual movie. WARNING: The concept of “based on the book” is alive & well in this adaptation. The first 1/3 of the book, probably until right around when (spoiler warning if you haven’t read the books) Jocelyn is taken was on par with the movie, but the prevalent thought in my head for the remainder of the movie was pretty much “it’s gone completely off the rails.” I am not even exaggerating.
There were certain scenes that were pulled from the books (the greenhouse scene), but a lot of it was, how do I say…completely made up by the screenwriter/producers. And the unfortunate thing about this is that I don’t understand how they will proceed with the followup movies/adaptations. There are elements in the book that were pretty important to the storyline for the entire series, like the fact that Simon becomes a vampire, that the movie did not explore.
However, having said that, I did enjoy the movie. It felt more like an homage to me, borrowing elements of the book like the characters, setting, and some scenes, but it became it’s own story, it’s own world. It was action packed and went in several directions that made sense, but it really did not follow too closely to what actually happens in the book.
My least favorite aspect of this adaptation was the characterization and look of Valentine.
The whole look of him was completely off to me. Valentine in my head had a regal posture, reminiscent of Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy. JRM played Valentine with a sexy, slinky swagger, more in line with the attitude of a lead singer of a band known for their unfortunate affinity for white boy dreads. The whole shirtless, smirky intesity did not jive to me with someone who had the charisma to turn idealistic young shadowhunters into brainwasihed purists of their race. It didn’t work for me, though I do love JRM in pretty much everything else. This character is definitely a victim of the adaptation and I think it really detracted from the movie. I couldn’t take him seriously.
At the end of the day, like I said, I did like the movie, but it made me want to go and reread the book to take the strange flavor out of my head regarding these beloved characters. Warning to TMI fans: proceed with caution.