Ten Years of City of Bones: Adaptations

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Another week, another rant. Let’s talk about the City of Bones adaptations!

This is a special tenth anniversary blog meme created by the lovely Jessica over at Booked J. If you’d like to join the fun, learn more, and check out her answers click HERE!

The prompt for week three has us comparing both City of Bones adaptations and y’all (it’s okay, I live in Georgia. I’m allowed) I got some FEELINGS. Yes, SHOCKING news. *sarcasm alert* It took me a while to figure out how to approach this one. My feelings on each adaptation are a pretty mixed bag, so I decided to make a pro/con list to better explain my irrational opinions.

DISCLAIMER: I’m not fully caught up with the television show. I’m only halfway through season one on episode nine, so this list was compiled with the information I know so far.


Movie PROS

Background and Set Design

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First of all, I’d like to say that I’m not a movie buff. Talking about technical things like set design isn’t something I normally do, but the City of Bones movie sets blew me away so much that I can’t NOT mention it. I’m fairly certain the creators of this film took the set design DIRECTLY OUT OF MY BRAIN!! I wish I could provide examples of the images my mind conjured up reading the books so you could all see how similar they are. It was awesome, but also creepy. But mostly awesome. And this reason alone accounts for about 90% of why I like the movie as much as I do. They did an excellent job.

Look at that!! STRAIGHT. OUT. OF. MY. BRAIN.


Monsters & Effects


Something about the way the movie handled the monsters and demons really got me. They all seemed so real somehow. I’m not sure if it’s because they used more special effects makeup, which gave everything a more realistic feel, but the demons seemed waaaaaay scarier in the movie than in the show. All of the special effects were great too! I love the way they uncovered glamours and handled Clary’s powers—nothing seemed too cheap or overtly obvious.


Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Valentine


I may be a little biased about this one because I LOVE HIM, but personally, I thought he was the PERFECT Valentine. He’s not exactly how I pictured Valentine in my mind while I was reading, but it was close enough to get me really excited. Combine that with my love of Jonathan Rhys Meyers and you’ve got a home run. I thought he did a really great job of being evil and I’m actually really super bummed we won’t get to see him play the part anymore.


Jared Harris as Hodge


When I first read the novel, Jared Harris is pretty much exactly how I pictured him. An older guy who spends all his free time in the library and is always covered in a suit or sports jacket. He also did a really great job of looking innocent, but betraying us all in the end. I HATE the Hodge in the television show and long for the days when Jared Harris’ mustache was telling us about shadowhunter history.


Clary & Simon

I really loved Lilly Collins and Robert Sheehan as Clary and Simon in this movie! Besides the fact that Clary’s hair was the completely wrong color (I know, I know. Not important) I thought they did an excellent job portraying the characters. Nothing felt too overdone or dramatic like it can on the television show sometimes.

Also, this has nothing to do with anything, but look at this gif of Robert Sheehan I found on my quest for Simon photos. LOOK AT ITS BEAUTY. FREAKING SWOON.


Brother & Sister Awkwardness

Going into the movie, I was SUPER worried about how they were going to handle the brother and sister bombshell at the end. In the books we don’t know Clary and Jace aren’t actually related until City of Glass and I was worried about how audiences would react. Will people stick with a series that had the two star-crossed protagonists as siblings? I mean, that little twist almost put me off the books and I didn’t even have to watch it being acted out on a screen.

In the end, the movie adds an extra scene between Valentine and Hodge that shows them plotting, revealing their plan to make Clary and Jace think their related. It was a very clever way to handle it and I’m happy they made the change.


Movie CONS

The Cast


Besides the actors I’ve specifically mentioned above, I found the rest of the cast very underwhelming. Isabelle, Luke, Jocelyn, and Jace were just all wrong and the Malec relationship was meh. In general, I was pretty hot and cold with the actors in this movie. The ones I loved I really LOVED and the ones I didn’t really grated on my nerves. It made the group feel disjointed and unbalanced.

The Accents

WHY DID ALL THE SHADOWHUNTERS HAVE ACCENTS?? WHY??? I know they’re technically from Idris, but why would they all have British accents? Wouldn’t they have Idris accents? Something that DOESN’T ACTUALLY EXIST!!! Why do they need accents at all? I DON’T UNDERSTAND! Am I the only one who thought this was weird??

Condensed & Rushed

This felt like a lot to pack into a two hour movie and if I hadn’t already read the books, I feel like I would have been overwhelmed and confused. Don’t get me wrong, I think they did a good job with what they had to work with, but I worry about the new people who had never read the books. It’s hard to grasp an entire fantasy world and history in such a short amount of time.


The Cast


Unlike the movie, I actually really like most of the cast for the television show and I think they did a great choosing the actors. My favorites are Alec, Isabelle, Jace, Luke, and Magnus because they’re all pretty much exactly how I imagined them in my mind. Even though there’s a tendency to over act on this show, everyone is doing a great job capturing their characters and I’m really loving watching them evolve. The Malec relationship is ADORABLE and I freaking love it. Can’t wait for more!


The Extended Length

It’s so nice seeing the story told in the extended length. I love that a television show means more time to develop the characters and really get into the story. Nothing has felt too rushed or overwhelming and they’re doing a great job of introducing the audience to this intricately built world.

I do think it’s a little odd they’re introducing the Infernal Devices into it already. Isn’t the story and history complicated enough? But I love the Infernal Devices trilogy enough not to mind, and I’m super curious where they take it.

Staying True to the Original Story & Vibe

This is really where my disclaimer comes into play. SO FAR, the show has stayed pretty true to the story and any changes they’ve made I haven’t minded. Even when I notice something different, it doesn’t feel forced and I feel like Cassandra Clare’s original vision is still there. I know there are big changes farther down the line (so I’ve read some spoilers. SUE ME), but since the show’s creators have been good about it so far I’m hopeful. *Crosses fingers*





THEY’RE TERRIBLE. I know this is a Freeform television show and not a big budget movie—something I remind myself often while watching it—but it’s just so cringe worthy sometimes. My eyes roll into the back of my head more times than I’d like to admit. This isn’t a big enough con to make me stop watching, but the amazingness I saw in the movie makes this stick out like sore thumb.


Over Acting


I’ve touched on this a little already, but sometimes the acting in the show gets to me. WE GET IT. YOU’RE ALL IN LOVE AND TORTURED.


Background & Set Design

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More specifically, the institute. The outside shots of it look amazing, but the interior rooms looks so weird! It has a smaller feel that doesn’t match the exterior at all and everything is so high tech! Why are there so many computers? Why does the floor need to light up?? Who are all these damn people running around??? Why does the training area look tiny to me???? WHERE IS THE LIBRARY?????? I’m just so confused.

Even Clary’s old loft apartment was ridiculous. You guys live in NEW YORK and you can just casually afford a GIANT loft apartment like that? It’s just the two of you and Dot, why do you need that much space anyway? I don’t understand.


Jon Cor as Hodge


Okay, WHAT?? I have nothing against him as an actor and I actually think he’s really cute, but as HODGE??? The first time he comes on screen shirtless and training, it was so jarring that I didn’t even realize he was suppose to be Hodge until minutes later. I always imagined him as older gray-haired guy who wears a lot of suits and holes himself in the institute’s library—a.k.a JARED FREAKING HARRIS. I get that the people at Freeform are trying to add sex appeal to the show (cut to Clary wearing six inch stiletto boots EVERYWHERE), but really? Was a hot Hodge really necessary??


Final Thoughts

I’m so torn about which one I like more! Overall though, I’m starting to lean in the television shows direction. Even though it has some faults, I REALLY love that there’s more time to dive deep into the story and I’m really enjoying the character development so far. To summarize this entire post in one sentence (I know, you hate me right now), if I could pick up the cast of the show and put them in the movie set, I would be happy. But for now, I’m content watching the TV show unfold on it’s own.




What do you think of the The Mortal Instrument adaptations?
Do you love the show or movie more?
What do you think of my pros and cons? Hate them? Love them?

Holler at me in the comments!!

2 thoughts on “Ten Years of City of Bones: Adaptations

  1. UGHHHH ALL OF THIS!! I will never not be annoyed about TV!Hodge–he is way too… attractive. I don’t actually find him attractive but you know, I’m trying to figure out how to word that. Also, random note, when I realized who TV!Valentine was going to be, I started cracking up because he and Movie!Valentine were in The Tudors together and also I had a little wine so I was just giggly anyways but WOW was that amusing to me.

    I adored the movie sets. I wish that a different channel would have picked up the series. One that could have afforded to be a little spendy on sets and effects. The way the movie was adapted had a lot of flaws–the script, the cast, the time restrictions–but its sets were so superior. I kind of want to rewatch it again because you’re right… it’s like they took the vision of how it all looks RIGHT FROM OUR HEADS. Meanwhile, on Shadowhunters we’ve got COMPUTERS and lIGHTS!!! and people!!!! Ugh. I always sound like I hate the show but I don’t haha obviously.

    Also, that scene you mentioned between Valentine and Hodge is so underrated because it literally does such a good job at providing information for those who hadn’t read the books. Part of me wishes that the films did better because I would have liked to see how they developed that into their own story–it would make Hodge seems more evil but it could also have provided a good breaking point for him in City of Glass. And it makes his betrayal cut that much deeper.

    I’m so glad we got a real Jace for Shadowhunters. I don’t mind the guy who portrayed him in the film but he is not Jace at all.


    Great post. LOVE IT. Everything you said is on point.
    Jessica recently posted…Owl Post + Review: Paperless PostMy Profile

    1. He is way too attractive!! I know exactly what you mean! It’s so… Weird. And I belatedly realized writing this post that I’ve been talking about Hodge A LOT, which is odd for me because I swear I don’t actually care about him. But the show made such an odd casting choice and I couldn’t let it go. Lol.

      OMG TUDORS YASSSS!! That made me crack up too!! What, did they call each other and compare Valentine notes?? Jeeeeezzzzz.

      I agree, I wish a different channel could have picked them up too. One that could spend a little more on sets and also not be so…. teen-drama-y?? I know that’s the point, but I can’t think of another way to phrase it. Because the movie really did do a wonderful job creating the City of Bones world in physical form.

      And right?? Thank you!! I was SO STRESSED about the ending when I fist went to see the movie and I really loved how they handled it. I’m with you. They got a lot wrong in the in the movie, but a large part of me is sad we won’t see it continued because I really am curious about the direction they would have taken it.

      TOTALLY. AGREE. ABOUT. JACE. I didn’t see Jamie Campbell Bower as Jace at all and I think Dominic Sherwood (god, I had to look up his real name. I only know his as Jace) is doing a much better job.

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