Tuesday 27 August 2013

From Page to Screen: City of Bones

Adapted from City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (Margaret K McElderry Books, 2007)

August 2013 

KEVIN ZEGERS ~ Alec Lightwood
JEMIMA WEST ~ Isabelle Lightwood
AIDAN TURNER ~ Luke Garroway
JONATHAN RHYS MEYERS ~ Valentine Morgenstern
GODFREY GAO ~ Magnus Bane

What’s it about?
Clary Fray’s mother disappears from there New York apartment shortly after she witnesses a murder in her favourite club. A murder that leaves no trace and committed by a beautiful boy and two others no one else can see. Clary is thrown into the world of the Shadowhunters as she hunts down her missing mother and her true heritage.


How does it hold up?
It’s been years and years since I first read, and then re-read, City of Bones. Some of the details are slightly foggy but the characters, world and events of the novel are still clear as day, but I think that not remembering the smallest of details was actually the best way to go into the film.

I was immediately captured by the gorgeousness of the film. From Clary’s brownstone to Luke’s shop to Pandemonium to the Institute. Oh, the Institute... Pandemonium was just how I imagined: sweaty, loud and infinitely cool. Everything else felt so much grander and more dramatic than I had imagined it and it was stunning. The sheer amount of detail was intricacy was mind-blowing. I almost felt like these were real places hidden away in New York City and not just film sets. The fact that it wasn’t even filmed in New York but Toronto didn't even really spring to mind until after the film. It had every evocation of NYC that I’ve imagined. 

The special effects were largely fantastic. The demons were brilliantly done and genuinely grim and creepy. I especially loved the reveal of how the Institute looks to those with the Sight; I would have been happy to have the camera just fixed on it for a few minutes. The scene in the greenhouse which was half set and half special effects, because of the invented flower species known only to Shadowhunters (yeah, I read the movie guide!), was gorgeous and romantic, but it also had a trace of Avatar about it with some of the floating lights effects. The scene as a whole was great though; it made me all gooey in the heart area.

Lily Collins was a brilliant Clary. She was strong, brave and independent and not at all annoying as is always a possibility with YA adaptations. She made the film feel as if the main goal was also about finding Jocelyn, Jace was just a bonus, when it definitely felt the other way around in the book. Oh, Jace. I fell in love with that boy such a long time ago. I have to admit that I was originally rather hesitant about Jamie Campbell Bower as he looked to sharp to be Jace. Then the shots started coming in and the trailer arrived and I knew. When he came on screen he was immediately Jace. The way he moved, dressed, spoke; his sense of humour and controlled facial expression; his reactions to Clary and strong love for his adopted family; even his damaging view of himself. 

Sadly, I don’t think Godfrey Gao did Magnus justice. Though he completely and utterly looked the part, there was none of Magnus’s age, wisdom, charisma and humour. I didn’t feel like Magnus’ character was made the most of. I did really like the hints at his future relationship with Alec, though. Everyone else was spot on. I actually didn’t release until I was in the car on the way home from the cinema, but the rest of the Lightwoods (Maryse, Robert and Max) weren’t even mentioned, let alone in the film!

All of that didn’t matter too much though, especially when it came time for the big reveal. Seriously, if you’re still reading this and don’t want to be spoiled, CLOSE THE WEBPAGE! One of the things I was most looking forward to was hearing the people in the screen who hadn’t read the book gasp as Valentine revealed that Clary and Jace were siblings. But nope. Before Clary and Jace even found out, we saw Hodge and Valentine discuss that Valentine was going to lie about it. I was so disappointed. I guess I can kind of understand why they did it, but not really. That twist is one of the biggest I’ve ever read and it’s one of the things that made me fall in love with the series and Cassandra Clare because it’s a brave and shocking choice. I’m actually really quite annoyed about it, you know...

Other than that (major) niggle, I thoroughly loved City of Bones and I’m trying to convince someone to come and see it again with me this week. I’m so glad City of Ashes is already in the works.

Rating: 8/10

Book or film?
The book, is my instinctual response, but I can honestly tell you that I’ve wanted to watch City of Bones again since the moment I left the cinema. And re-read the books.



  1. Obviously the books better but I think it's one of the best book to movie adaptation. They kept it true to the book but obviously there were minor changes but that's to be expected. I have to say we were all quick to go see the movie.
    Here's my review:

  2. Brilliant review!! I agree with everything, though I actually really loved Magnus. They did leave out some of his best bits though... But everyone was perfect!! Maybe Maryse will come into the second film? If memory serves, the other Lightwoods are barely mentioned in City of Bones... But maybe then the Big Sad Evil Thing that happened in City of Glass won't happen..?
    Can't wait for City of Ashes!! :D :D

  3. i agree with Frenchie - this is definitely one of the better adaptions I've seen. And I agree with you on Magnus...HOLY MOTHER OF GOD do I want to jump that man! But he looked the part, and his acting just wasn't quite there. Which was a shame. But that's ok I still got to look at him (yum!).

    I had a bit of a break up with the series after the trilogy, and although I enjoyed the trilogy, I wasn't a huge fangirl for it the way I usually get about my books. But I'm glad I saw the movie in theatres - it was really beautifully done (I know this is a weird thing to like, but when they shut the doors to the Institute and it does the weird locking thing I was like...ahhhh this is so cool!!)

  4. 100% agree with everything you said! I really enjoyed the film, and liked Clary and Jace more than I expected to, and it was a good, fun film. Agree with everything you said about the settings and scenery. I didn't like Magnus at all though, and I was disappointed that they kind of glossed over the big reveal about Clary and Jace being siblings and what that meant. I also noticed they completely left out the Lightwood family. Fab post- you said everything I wanted to but better!

  5. I still haven't seen it :( N was supposed to go with me opening weekend and it just didn't work out.

  6. I looooved it!!! Sene it 5 times. So much better than I was expecting. <3


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