This is the last of my late reviews. Yes, thats right aside from Riddick I saw nothing in September or October so far. As of the writing of this review I have watched this movie three times; so I believe I have a solid grasp on it. It does need to be said, per usual, I have not read the books on which this film is based, I can only judge it on it’s cinematic merits or lack there of. So what do we have here hmm?
A director, Howard Zwart (The Karate Kid 2010), with only one film that is considered remotely successful has been given the keys to what the studio prays can be another Twilight for them. For those less familiar with the studios, what they look for is Franchises and Tent-pole pictures with which to base their year around. Many of their existing franchises are drying up as the books and films have run their course (Potter, Twilight), while others move into risky territory (Marvel Phase 2) and yet others need a reboot after only a few years (Batman). Tent-pole pictures this year have largely collapsed under the weight of their own expectations (Lone Ranger, Man of Steel). That being said the powers that be are looking for the next big thing. Rarely a week goes by where I don’t read about a new young adult novel that hasn’t even been fully published and released being optioned for a movie. That’s right studios are gambling on the whims of young adults on things they don’t even know if they will be popular. I think I’ve got better odds in a Vegas Casino of beating the house.
While they gamble on everything else, Constantin Films also felt the need to bet on an untested writer. Jessica Postigo, a former journalist was tasked with the unenviable job of translating Cassandra Clares works to be ready for screen. How is the source material? I really can’t say personally, however, I admit a soft spot for the writer. Much like me she is an indy writer, specializing in fan fiction, who made it good. I have a vested interest in supporting her as it gives hope to me and lots of other amateur writers like me that we can one day make it big, get published for real and even maybe if you are really lucky have a movie made.
About the movie, how is that final product? Well – actually not bad at all. We have the story of Clary (Clare?), played by Lily Collins (Mirror Mirror) a young New Yorker who enjoys hanging with her friends at local clubs and coffee shops. She also has begun seeing things, symbols hidden in signs and in her dreams. On a night out she sees more than symbols as someone is killed in front of her and no one else can see it. She’s forced to confront her own past and face her own future as part of a world she didn’t know existed. The movie deals with all that comes with it rather well. Collins brings all the right emotions at the right times. She feels genuine in her reactions and for me was easy to identify with and want to be despite it all.
Supporting Clary on her Buffy like journey is the rather adorable Jace – the obvious love interest – (Jamie Campbell Bower), Alec (Kevin Zegers)- Jace’s…something -,and Simon (Robert Sheehan) – Best human friend she has. Filling out the cast is Lena Headey as her mother, Jared Harris as Hodge the mysterious mentor, and our soon to be Dracula, Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Valentine. A twist of beautiful irony has Aiden Turner the vampire from Being Human playing a werewolf. I must pause for a moment to talk about new actor Godfrey Gao who absolutely steals every scene he is in as Magus Bane.
So the acting is “alright” – this won’t win an Oscar any time soon – and the story is good, what about the effects and other technicals? Honestly, they aren’t horrific. It’s the best I can manage here. With a mere 60 million dollar budget and quite a lot of effects needed for this by comparison to other YA films, the effects work. They don’t blow my mind and some of them I’ve seen before in other films. Sets, music and atmosphere however make me ignore all that and truly help bring the audience into the film. where there are plenty of films that feel “wrong” when I look at their atmosphere and dressing this one is actually “right” in every possible way for me.
The movie is not without flaws however, much of which come from the original source material. I said I support Clare, I didn’t say she was the next Shakespeare. Her influences from other genres and works is clear on many pages of the movie. You will see Constantine, Star Wars, Stargate, and yes, even a bit of Twilight as you go through the movie and for the most part it’s not too rough. The music during the upbeat of the romance feels like an episode of anything on the CW. The acting at times, mostly when love triangles come into play is so ham-fisted I kept wondering why I was tasting bacon. Then in other moments it reads perfect and natural, that in itself is a flaw when it cannot keep a consistent tone. The movie does fail on that one pretty spectacularly where in the condensing of so much material from the book it lacks quite a bit of polish.
At the end of the day, I actually really love this movie. I think I explained why before, but the movie resonates with me on a level not a lot do. So in all honesty I cannot recommend it for everyone.
If you are a fan of the books, it’s an absolute must. (Confirmed by people who have TATTOOS based on the books that were in one of my showings)
If you are a fan of YA books or films, then give it a try. I think you’ll enjoy.
Not a fan of supernatural romance, young adult level fiction, or the CW consider this a wave off ghost rider, the pattern is full.
Tomorrows film doesn’t ever shut up.