By Brooke Whitaker
This writer will be the first to admit that she is not generally fond of book to movie adaptations, which is why I had mixed feelings about going to see “The Mortal Instruments: The City of Bones.” I am happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the movie and the way that it so easily made the rich world of Cassandra Clare’s novel come to life.
For those of you not familiar with the book series, “The City of Bones” is the first installment of the larger “Mortal Instruments” series in which Clary Fray (Lily Collins), a seemingly normal teenage girl, is plunged into a world filled with eccentric warlocks, demons, and yes, vampires and werewolves that are still creepy. Clary and a band of shadowhunters (half-human and half-angel demon hunters) must search for the Mortal Cup, an artifact that was hidden by Clary’s mother, Jocelyn, (also a shadowhunter in hiding, played by Lena Headey) from the deranged anarchist Valentine (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), who wishes to use the cup to rebuild the entire race of shadowhunters.
While I was skeptical of the casting based on the trailer, I am very happy to say that the actors worked together in a way that completely sucked me into the alternate New York, known in the film as downworld. Lily Collins did an impeccable job as Clary, and the chemistry that she had with Lena Headey (who some of you will recognize as Cersei Lannister from “Game of Thrones”) accurately matched what was in the book, even with the few scenes that the two actually had together. Robert Sheehan brings Simon, Clary’s slightly dorky and thoroughly human best friend, to life while Jamie Campbell Bower plays Jace, the mysterious shadowhunter warrior. Kevin Zegers (who plays Alec Lightwood) and Jemima West (Isabelle Lightwood) round out the cast of younger shadowhunters, with Aiden Turner (of “The Hobbit”) playing Luke, Jocelyn’s longtime friend and leader of the New York werewolves who Clary turns to for help.
The special effects and sets were all breathtaking, and director Harald Zwart stayed very true to the original feel of Clare’s novels. While I may have had my initial doubts (the trailer was less than appealing), they were soon erased by the ease with which this movie drew me into its world and kept me there until the end. I would recommend this movie to fans of the book series, but also anyone who needs a good way to escape. Part action, part fantasy, with a little bit of sass and eccentricity thrown in, “City of Bones” is sure to please.