This isn't a dump....You just can't see it - Clary Fray
Nothing is as it seems. That's what we've heard for several months. For the Shadowhunter fandom, nothing was ever the same after we picked up Cassandra Clare's book and first started learning about the world of the Nephilim. First of all, waiting for this book-to-screen adaptation has been an event unto itself. We've discussed, fangirled and sometimes maybe even argued a little over every tiny aspect of the storyline: a seemingly ordinary young woman discovers a hidden world and an extraordinary destiny. When we first got a glimpse of the cast of TMI, we waited on baited breath to know how the young group would click. We've fretted about hair color, eye color, wardrobe choices, yada yada. FORGET ALL THAT, my dear friends.
Let me tell you one thing. THIS MOVIE DELIVERS THE GOODS!
I'm not just gushing over this film because Cassie is my favorite author or that I adore the actors. I absolutely loved the movie. From the start of the film, I was swept away into the world of Clary Fray (Lily Collins), who has been living quietly in Brooklyn for as long as she can remember, when she begins to see some startling things. When her mom, Jocelyn (Lena Headey), disappears after a violent struggle, Clary, with the help of her best friend Simon (Robert Sheehan) search for Jocelyn. This this adventure, Clary begins to uncover dark secrets and even darker threats in the hidden world of the Shadowhunters, angel-human warriors who have protected humanity from evil forces for centuries.
Surrounded by demons, warlocks, vampires, werewolves and other supernatural denizens of the Shadow World, Clary joins forces with young Shadowhunters Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower), Isabelle (Jemima West), and Alec (Kevin Zegers) to locate and protect an ancient Cup that holds the key to her mother's future. Discovering abilities and courage she never knew she possessed, the Clary surprises herself as she proves to be a formidable opponent against an array of deadly adversaries.
There were so many things I loved about the movie. First of all it is visually stunning. They have managed to take the realistic life of a teenage girl living in Brooklyn and transform her world into this mesmerizing night life filled with incredible imagery. The filmmakers decided to shoot on film as opposed to digital cameras to give the film a lush and classic look. According to the director, Harald Zwart: "We actually shot this movie on 35mm Panavision Scope which makes it look absolutely gorgeous. I know I'm one of the few still holding back on doing digital. I'm not going to argue for or against either, but I think for this movie, where there's a lot of romance and skin tones and beautiful colors, shooting it in a traditional fashion on film gives it a very special look."
Those characters jumping to life on screen in this world of monsters and nightmares are just as incredible. I can't stress enough, and I told each actor this when I got this chance while in L.A., that they were absolutely brilliant in their roles. I can't speak enough good things about this cast. When I started watching the film and saw Lily and Robert up on the screen as Clary and Simon, cringing over Eric's awful poetry, I really felt like I was seeing this book brought to life. With getting to know more about Lily during the fun filled festivities that were the L.A. premiere, I realized that not only is she a really, truly sweet young woman, but she is also very passionate about getting her character right, just like all the actors were. Lily brings a warmth and spark to Clary that even I sometimes haven't read into the character. She is dynamic and intriguing. Her chemistry with Robert and Jamie is magnetic. I truly believe she was destined for this role.
Robert Sheehan, oh Robert. How the fans adore thee. I think when seeing Robert on screen as Simon, it confirmed to me that girls all over the world are going to be falling for the nerd guys in record numbers. Robert is authentic as Simon, nailing the much anticipated lines that we so expect to hear between he, Clary and Jace. He broke my heart in this film in those moments after the greenhouse scene. I'm not sure what all he did to research his role, but he solidified to me that he can not only be that funny sidekick we've seen in Misfits, but he can also be a leading man. As he told me after the premiere, he is very excited to bulk up and become all vampire-y! I'm looking forward to that myself!
After seeing the emotion on Jamie Campbell Bower's face during an interview with him the day after I first saw the movie, I realized just how much the role of Jace means to him and how much the fan comments mean to him. He's taken the good and the bad and used these rants and raves to chiseling out the best Jace he could be. Jamie nails the wit of Jace. He nails this vulnerability that I didn't even expect to see, but that I adore him for even more so now that its been uncovered to me. The chemistry between Jamie and Lily as our Clace is completely on fire. I could tell you about the greenhouse scene. I could tell you about the moment before that scene that made me just melt and how I even told Jamie how much I adored that moment as possibly my fave scene in the whole film, but I want YOU to see it for yourself. The delicacy of the Jace and Clary budding romance is there. The protectiveness on Simon's behalf over Clary is there. These are the crucial things I had to see, and it was delivered to me in multitudes.
Kevin Zegers slayed me as Alec. It didn't take much screen time to see him to know that I both loved and hated him! What I mean by that is Kevin pulls off Alec so well that even the facial features when you see him snap at Clary are enough to make me want to just say, "Please, Alec, stop your jealousy. We know you love Jace, but you have someone better coming. Just wait." Kevin does such a fantastic job in his moments on the screen. If there is anything I can say as a suggestion is that he needs more screen time, but he and the writers know this. Kevin told me that he expects much more of Alec in City of Ashes. As Alec's sister, Jemima West is also flawless as Isabelle. I think the thing that surprised me about Jemima's Izzy was that she was nicer than I expected from reading the book. But, to me, that's okay. I think if she had went bitchier, that it would have taken away from her performance. It was a very nice balance. The moments between Alec and Magnus (Godfrey Gao) were sweet and made me want more. (WE NEED MORE MAGNUS BANE!!) I was also very happy to see Aidan Turner and Lena Headey as Luke and Jocelyn. I do need more of both of them in the next film. I love both of them as actors.
I can keep going and going about the acting. Jared Harris delivered a brilliant and more complex Hodge Starkweather than I could have ever hoped for. The moments between he and Valentine (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) were electric. One of my favorite scenes in the film involved the two of them squaring off in a heated debate. I'll save my spoilery thoughts about Jared and Jonathan for my full review because I can't rave about their performances without getting into the nuisances of the scenes.
STAY TUNED FOR MY COMPLETE REVIEW ON AUGUST 21ST WHEN THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES HITS THEATERS!!