There is something to be said for ambition. The sort of unabashed, no holds barred, balls to the wall energy that makes anything seem like a good idea. Though you'll cock your head at the results of this kind of caution-to-the-wind bravado, the all-inclusive "sure, why not?" attitude, you can't help but crack a smile for the purveyors of this spirit: the first grader who stuffs his class diorama with every figurine and pipe cleaner machination he can muster, the bird who lines its nest with candy wrappers and Fedex receipts, or the people who made the Mortal Instruments movie. They, quite possibly, are the mightiest knights of them all.
You don't have to wait too long for the crazy to kick up in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. We open on the most spacious apartment in the history of Brooklyn, where young Lily Collins is beginning to see mysterious symbols popping up everywhere, only the first sign of the fantastical journey set to take form. Mother Lena Headey, aided by her platonic friend Aidan Turner, plays the Dursley card and takes effort to deter any exploration of the ominous elements to befall her daughter. But as with every spunky mystic around her age, Collins cannot be restrained. She follows her heart and embarks on a quest, aided by her platonic friend Robert Sheehan, through every single conceivable element of modern fantasy.
The Harry Potter similarities continue when Collins is ushered into a demonic otherworld via New York City's equivalent of a murky train platform (an ecstasy-laden dance club), guided by New York City's equivalent of a haggard woodland giant (a perpetually shirtless goth ghost, played by Jamie Campbell Bower). Working her way up from glowing-eyed club druggers and pieces of living jewelry to demons, werewolves, witches, vampires, and interdimensional portals — tossed in one by one as we gradually abandon all devotion to any margins of logic — Collins engages in an adventure that seems entirely open to all possibilities. Or at least all possibilities that have proven vigilant at the box office in the past four years.
And as she engages, so do we. Not exactly in the way you engage with Harry Potter... more in the way you engage with the Harry Potter ride at Islands of Adventure. You'll embrace the likable and talented Collins just enough to forge the sort of relationship you want with a fantasy heroine. You'll find yourself rooting one way or the other in the love triangle between her, the Shirtless Shadowhunter (Campbell Bower), and her lovestruck pal Simon (Sheehan). You won't have to work too hard to understand most of the mystical facets tossed your way: you know the rules of vampires (no sunlight), of werewolves (they're dudes sometimes), of demons (they're bad). And when it does get confusing, like when teleportation bubbles and portal beams from the afterlife and curses and tarot cards and dreadlocks are tossed into the equation, you have the luxury of abandoning the puzzle. You're not asked to understand anything, just to accept it all.
Accept that all this madness can, does, and should occur within the malleable reality occupied by Collins and her ghastly friends. When it is revealed that classical musicians had a hand in these supernatural forays, accept it. When you're taken from wizards' palaces to Willy Wonkian wonderlands to the destitute streets of a haunted Manhattan post 3 AM, accept it. When genealogical revelations tie everything together in a bow so strange as to put the peculiarity of bat invasions, corpse armies, glowing hieroglyph tattoos, and memory erasing club promoters, accept it. If you can do all that, you'll find a comical thrill ride in this two hours of steadily accelerating madness, this Mulligan Stew of YA fiction. But if you're too hung up on logic, rules, world building, or any semblance of pacing, stick with Potter — Mortal Instruments is for the most adamant "sure, why not?"-ers only.
Follow Michael Arbeiter on Twitter @MichaelArbeiter | Follow hollywood.com on Twitter @hollywood_com
More:Lily Collins Talks 'Mortal Instruments'Jared Harris Talks 'Mortal Instruments'Hollywood.com's YA Summer Book Club
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Demons, werewolves, and rogue shadowhunters, oh my! The newest trailer for The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones just hit the web, and while the extended footage does give fans more plot details than the first grand look — including our first glimpse of Lena Headey's mother-with-a-dark-past Jocelyn Fray! — it is starting to feel a lot more like the YA novel adaptation that it is.
The first installment in Cassandra Clare's bestselling fantasy series tackles a world hidden from "mundane" human perception, and when New York teen Clary Fray (Lily Collins) starts to see things others can't after her mother goes missing, her world is turned upside down. She is thrust into the world of shadowhunters, a.k.a. demon hunters, and discovers her family's dark past and her mysterious connection to the rogue shadowhunter villain Valentine (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). Along the way, she meets bad boy shadowhunter Jace Wayland (Jamie Campbell Bower), and twins Alec (Kevin Zegers) and Isabelle Lightwood (Jemima West), with her mortal best friend Simon (Robert Sheehan) dragged along for the ride.
RELATED: 'The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones' Trailer #1
While the first trailer released four months ago had an epic feel, this new clip focuses more on the budding (and quite... unique) relationship between Clary and Jace — and the resulting animosity Alec feels for Clary — giving it a much more tweeny, young adult feel. But the upside to the new footage is that it seems like it will stay true to the book, right down to the climactic battle at the end. Check out the trailer below:
What do you think of the newest trailer? Are you excited to see Clary, Jace, Simon, and the Lightwoods battle the evil Valentine? Let us know in the comments!
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones hits theaters August 23, 2013.
Follow Sydney on Twitter: @SydneyBucksbaum
[Photo Credit: Screen Gems]
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Having your head repeatedly banged against a table by Jonathan Rhys Meyers is all in a days work. At least, it is if you're Lily Collins and you're playing Clary Fray, the protagonist in the long-awaited adaptation of Cassandra Clare's beloved YA saga The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.
Clary is no ordinary girl (a New York City teen whose world gets turned upside down when she learns about her connection to a group of demon fighters called the Shadowhunters) and Collins is no ordinary Hollywood starlet.
"I’ve had many experiences on this set of intense, emotional, physical… I’m doing stunts in these [high heels] the whole time, sometimes in a mini dress, so it’s been maneuvering myself around the sets. I’ve gotten so many bruises at 4 in the morning, all hours of the night, so it’s been an intense ride, but it’s been really fun," Collins told Hollywood.com on the Toronto set of The Mortal Instruments last October.
On this particular day (which marked the 40th day of the TMI shoot) Collins had been filming a scene with Meyers, who plays rogue Shadowhunter Valentine Morgenstern who holds a major key to Clary's past, in which he tries to get an important piece of information from Clary by, well, slamming her head against a table. And while Collins had a stunt double stand in for the actual choreographed act of violence, it doesn't mean the 23-year-old actress didn't get down and dirty for this particular fight sequence.
RELATED: 'The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones' Trailer
"On that last take, I actually did smack [my head] against the table," she revealed. "It really helps, I have to say, with a lot of the stunt stuff...something is bound to go a little awry, and most of my reactions have genuinely been me saying, 'Ow!' and screaming." Perhaps the main reason why Collins — whose previous credits include Priest, The Blind Side, Abduction, and Mirror, Mirror — was willing to get a little banged up on the job, is because, as she put it, "I was actually a fan of the series before I was cast. Having read the books and being really familiar with Clary, and just kind of admiring her as a character."
Collins' fandom over the project was only matched by her relief of how the movie version of The Mortal Instruments — which had been two years in the making, as the Screen Gems feature had been passed over by Sony and has since undergone frequent rewrites — had turned out. "I think everything happens for a reason because the team we got together for this is so amazing. Everyone has brought something new to the table. Harald [Zwart] is the ultimate director for this project because it’s not really his genre, but he’s all about character and emotion. And it’s taking the project that could have been so CGI-based, and he’s made it a story about real people in this fantasy world."
Of course, it probably didn't hurt that the very things that got a fan like Collins excited for the big screen adaptation (the actress said she "got emotional" when she saw the movie's replica of The Institute, a major hub in the story, and that it was "literally is exactly how I pictured it in my head....as a fan, I think the world is encapsulated really, really well") got the approval from Clare, who was on set for filming and worked as something of a consultant. "It's been really great to have her here, see her reaction to stuff and to have her input on the way we are changing up certain scenes for film. Just really hearing her laugh and her enthusiasm on set is really awesome."
Next: Working with her TMI cast mates, including real life love Jamie Campbell Bower
Still, Collins (who producer Don Carbody said is "the most natural I've ever seen" and that "she observes and she lives the character in her own psyche"), credited the collaborative effort of the entire ensemble — which also features Jared Harris, Lena Heady, Kevin Zegers, Jemima Wood, and Robert Sheehan, among others — for making it all come together after all this time. Even the ones that knock her head against a table. "Wit this movie, all the cast have an amazing rapport. It actually makes it really cool because we’re all going through this together. Even someone like Jonathan, who is so incredible and so intense and so seasoned, he still likes to have fun as well. And that makes it a really group experience and very family-like."
RELATED: Kevin Zegers as Alec in 'The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones' — EXCLUSIVE PHOTO
One person Collins certainly liked having on the set of TMI is her real-life beau, Jamie Campbell Bower, who plays her on-screen love interest, a mysterious Shadowhunter named Jace. Collins recalled meeting Bower during the auditions back in 2010. "I read with a couple of different guys. Jamie just came in and... that was it. He was just himself. He had this perfect mixture of being this witty, kind of jokey, cocky in the best sense of the word. But also extremely vulnerable, emotional and this great mixture of emotions. And that’s what Jace is. He has to walk in a room and make people turn their heads and that’s what Jamie does."
Sure, this could sound all too familiar: an off-screen couple playing a supernatural on-screen couple, but Collins insisted TMI is no Twilight. Especially when it comes to comparing her Clary Fray to that of Bella Swan. "She’s thrown a new twist every five minutes and it’s this constant battle against herself of, 'How do I overcome this?' Collins said of her character. "She’s dealing with creatures that she’s never even believed in or thought existed. She’s got this new superhero power...she’s a teenager growing up trying to discover herself. That’s enough of a worry. Now she has to find out she’s a Shadowhunter. So I think what makes her different is just this sense she’s constantly finding out new information about herself."
Collins also noted that throughout the script's rewrites ("One thing I wasn’t expecting on this project is how collaborative it is with the actors and Harald," she admitted, "We're kind of able to reword our own scenes as we go to see how things flow in the moment...and then also having Cassandra here to help clean up things that need to be fine-tailored and stuff) Clary's character has only gotten more fierce and independent.
RELATED: A First Look At 'The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones '
"Clary has become way more proactive since the beginning, since the first script. She really fuels a lot of the scenes. It’s less about being thrown all this information and floundering: she gets thrown a lot of information now and she’s actively pursuing an outcome. I felt like she’s gotten stronger and stronger in the rewrites." But it's not just Clary's strong-willed nature that Collins thinks sets her aside from the YA pack: "She doesn’t rely on any guys, but the guys [do] end up helping her discover herself more."
"It's not a movie about a love triangle," the star insisted, regarding the relationship between Clary, Jace, and her platonic pal Simon (Sheehan), "The romance is only one portion of this kind of epic adventure. Yes, it fuels certain scenes and it’s an undertone, but it’s in no way a love story that has action in it. It’s a full-blown action/adventure fantasy film that is based in reality that has this romance in it." Now that's worth fighting for.
[Photo credit: Screen Gems]
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Even before Twilight — or Harry Potter — Hollywood had made a habit of turning beloved books into movie hits. You can thank the vampire craze for the booming genre of young adult fiction in publishing, though, and its success (along with Potter's and The Hunger Games') has paved the way for a booming, previously untapped market.
The latest book-to-movie adaptation, Beautiful Creatures about a 15-year-old witch, her mortal boyfriend, and their ill-fated romance, hits theaters on Thursday, Feb. 14. It's just the first in a string of post-Twilight, post-Hunger Games movies based on popular YA book series to hit the theaters (or the small screen) in 2013. Instead of catching up on dozens of novels, why not peruse Hollywood.com's YA primer for a taste of each before you decide which books are worthy of your time?
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Beautiful Creatures, Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
What Happens:Lena comes from a long line of casters (witches), who, upon their 16th birthday, are claimed for the light or the dark. She moves in with her shut-in uncle in a small Southern town and becomes increasingly worried that she'll go dark as her fateful claiming day approaches. Complicating matters further is that she falls in love with mortal Ethan, her new classmate.
Love Triangle? Not here. These two fall in love almost immediately, but Lena's claiming is what comes between them.
Development: This movie comes out on Valentine's Day. You should probably pay better attention to the billboards and commercials (and the second paragraph of this story).
Who's Attached: Alden Ehrenreich and Alice Englert play the mortal and caster who fall in love, while a pedigreed cast of veterans, including Viola Davis, Jeremy Irons, and Emma Thompson, add their support.
Should You Read? Like many series, the first book's engaging, while the subsequent volumes run off the rails. Stick with Beautiful Creatures and you won't be disappointed.
RELATED: Why 'Beautiful Creatures'' Lineup Of Thespians Separates It From The YA Pack
Divergent, Veronica Roth
What Happens:In a dystopian future, civilization has split up into personality-based factions. Once children reach high-school age, they're tested to find out the tribe for which they're most suited. Abegnation (Selfless) teen Beatrice learns that she has qualities of her native faction, along with Erudite (Intelligent) and Dauntless (Brave) — she's divergent, a very dangerous quality. Beatrice decides to join the Dauntless, renames herself Tris, and learns how brave she actually is.
Love Triangle? Nope. But Tris does fall for her sexy, older instructor, Four, also a former Abignation.
Development: Production should start any day now, and the project is actively casting. Neil Burger will direct the film, which is being produced by Summit Entertainment (the company behind Twilight).
Who's Attached: Oscar nominee Shailene Woodley will star, but her love interest is proving harder to cast. Kate Winslet is circling the project, though it's unknown what character she'd potentially play.
Should You Read? Heck yes. Plus, the sequel, Insurgent, is just as good — a rarity in the YA book world.
NEXT: Forbidden Love, Demon-Fighters, and Hunger Games Bachelor-Style
Delirium, Lauren Oliver
What Happens:In a dystopian near-future, love has been banned. All teenagers undergo a surgery that eliminates the emotion from their brains after their 18th birthday, when they are matched with their spouse. Lena is all set to live her assigned life, but things get complicated when she meets a boy from the Wilds — the forest outside her walled-in society — and, naturally, falls in love before her operation.
Love Triangle? It's a little hard to have a triangle when love is outlawed, but Lena has her share of illicit affairs. In both the first and the second books of the trilogy she manages to develop real, passionate feelings.
Development: Fox is currently producing a pilot for the 2013-2014 broadcast season.
Who's Attached: Emma Roberts will star as our rebellious heroine Lena, but her potential boyfriend/s has/have not yet been cast.
Should You Read? Definitely. Delirium is fascinating, and the sequel, Pandemonium, is unique in that the setting and most of the characters are completely different from the first book — usually there's not such a drastic change.
RELATED: Kevin Zegers Stares Us Down in 'Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones' — EXCLUSIVE PIC
The Mortal Instruments, Cassandra Clare
What Happens:Ordinary teenager Clary finds out that she's a member of a secret race of Shadowhunters, or demon-fighters, and is taken in by bad boy Jace and shadowhunter siblings Alec and Isabelle when her mother is kidnapped by the Voldemort-like evil villain Valentine. Clary and her new friends must find the Mortal Cup to save her mother — and prevent Valentine from rising to power again.
Love Triangle? Clary's mortal BFF Simon is hopelessly in love with her, but she's too busy crushing on buff, badass demon hunter Jace to notice.
Development: This one's already been made — The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones was filmed in Toronto in 2012 and is scheduled to hit theaters on August 23, 2013.
Who's Attached: Lily Collins stars as Clary, while former Twilight vampire Jamie Campbell Bower plays Jace, Kevin Zegers is Alec, and Jemima West is Isabelle. Robert Sheehan, of the British teen superhero series Misfits, plays Simon.
Should You Read? The first book's an engrossing introduction to the shadowhunter world, but you don't need to read more than that. Plus, there's a weird incesty storyline that we just can't get behind even though it's easy to predict the eventual, non-gross outcome.
The Selection, Kiera Cass
What Happens: In a dystopian future (sense a theme?), low-caste teenager America Singer is chosen, Hunger Games-style, to compete in a Bachelor-esque contest to win the prince's hand in marriage. Unfortunately, the rebel forces who oppose the prince's father's rule decide to disrupt the competition as a way to win back the kingdom.
Love Triangle? Although America's dedicated to her secret fiance, a lower-class soldier assigned to protect the castle where she's now living, she strikes up a very real friendship with the prince that has the potential to blossom into something more.
Development: The CW developed (and rejected) a pilot for the 2012 season, but has completely revamped the script and story — deviating from the book's framework in very key ways — for a second go-around.
Who's Attached: Aimee Teegarden and Ethan Peck played America and Prince Maxon in the first version, but both actors have moved on since then and the project is actively casting round two.
Should You Read? In a word, no. If the show makes it to series, a quick plot summary is more than enough to catch you up on the book series' goings-on. Besides, most TV shows adapted from books deviate from the original plot within episodes.
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The Fault in Our Stars, John Green
What Happens:Just because a book is YA doesn't mean it needs supernatural romance or a dystopian bent. This very modern, very real novel follows teenage cancer patient Hazel as she meets and falls in love with fellow cancer victim Augustus. Other stuff happens too, but you'll be too busy crying — tears of sorrow, tears of happiness, tears of joy, tears of grief – to articulate the plot too.
Love Triangle? Only disease gets in the way of Hazel and Augustus' love.
Development: The movie, written by (500) Days of Summer scribes Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, is set to film over the summer.
Who's Attached: TFIOS hasn't been cast yet, but add Hollywood.com to the list of many who believe Mae Whitman would be the perfect Hazel.
Should You Read? You mean you haven't yet? TFIOS was No. 1 on Time's best books of 2012 list — not best YA books, best of all books. Get to a bookstore/library/ebook purveyor immediately, and don't forget the tissues. You'll need them.
Vampire Academy, Richelle Mead
What Happens: Rose Hathaway is headstrong, independent Dhampir (half-human/half-vampire) bodyguard in training to protect her best friend, Moroi (vampire) princess Lissa Dragomir, the last in her royal bloodline following a tragic car accident. The Strigoi – the fiercest and most dangerous undead vampires who kill humans, Moroi, and Dhampirs —have made it their mission to end Royal bloodlines, so Lissa is their prime target. Rose and Lissa have been on the run from St. Vladimir's Academy because of the dangers the Strigoi present, but they're dragged back to the school where they become enmeshed in government politics, the school's social scene and Rose's forbidden romance with her much older instructor, Dimitri Belikov, who is known as a god among the Guardians.
Love Triangle? Not really. Rose and Dimitri’s romance is filled with enough obstacles without another person complicating things, but another Dhampir student, Mason, tries to throw his hat in the ring with deadly consequences. Later in the series, a royal Moroi complicates the romance a bit, though.
Development: Optioned by Preger Entertainment way back in the summer of 2010, the movie adaptation is finally moving forward with a cast and everything. Heathers’ Dan Waters wrote the script, and Don Murphy will produce. The name of the first movie has changed from Vampire Academy to Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters, the name of the first book in the German version of the series.
Who’s Attached: Zoey Deutch, who has a supporting part in Beautiful Creatures, will star as Rose, Aussie actress Lucy Fry will play Lissa, and Russian superstar (but unknown in the U.S.) Danila Kozlovsky will play Dimitri.
Should You Read? Sure — the series is pretty engrossing; there's a reason author Richelle Mead wrote a spinoff series, Bloodlines, with characters from the VA world. If you’re into the supernatural but want a more mature series to get into, this is for you.
Follow Jean on Twitter @hijean
[PHOTO CREDIT: Warner Bros. Pictures; Penguin Group; Margaret K. McElderry; Harper Teen; Katherine Tegen Books; Harper Collins Publishing; Dutton Books: Little, Brown and Co.; Dutton Books]
Film critics seem to have all the fun, dishing out catchy blurbs and influencing the fate of the latest Hollywood offerings with a tilt of the thumb, while powerless actors, directors and producers have no recourse but to curse them from afar. But today, Hollywood has the last word.
Daily Variety surveyed four dozen filmmakers for their opinions on the nations' top movie reviewers and -- surprise! -- they're pretty darn critical of the critics. So critical, in fact, that almost nobody was willing to let their names be published in the trade newspaper's article, lest they incur the printed wrath of any pundit they decided to diss.
Variety didn't rank the critics from best to worst, nor did it give marks to individual critics for their (perceived) strengths and weaknesses. But the catty comments of those unidentified Hollywood types who took part in the survey revealed that: (a) critics from the print medium (newspapers, magazines) were regarded fairly positively, while (b) blurbmeisters working on TV are, well, not.
According to the survey, the Hollywood players consider Anthony Lane of the New Yorker magazine the doyen of movie writers, thanks to his "film literacy, reliability, verisimilitude and quality of writing." Roger Ebert and Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times were also well respected as being passionate and informed, even if some consider them pompous.
David Denby of the New Yorker and David Ansen of Newsweek also seemed to be generally well regarded; Kevin Thomas, a longtime critic for the Los Angeles Times, meanwhile, "took a drubbing from filmmakers of all ages and disciplines," according to Variety.
But what's really interesting is how much dirt the filmmakers dished about the broadcast critics, ranging from the guys on local newscasts to the network morning news programs to entertainment news shows.
An unidentified Oscar-nominated actor said, "I cannot abide David Sheehan. Gene Shalit's not a dope, but he goes for the gag. And I cannot abide Joel Siegel. I can develop a real hatred for critics as I talk about these people!"
Sheehan is the perennial, I-like-everything critic for KCBS-TV in Los Angeles; Shalit, of course, is a resident of NBC's "Today" show. (Vocabulary lesson for today: "Abide" is synonymous with "tolerate.")
Another missive was fired by a director (also unnamed, natch), who called TV critics "the people who absolutely aggravate me. One guy who's very uneven and goes into ecstasy over mediocre pictures is Joel Siegel (of ABC's "Good Morning America" fame)."
But how reliable is Variety's survey, if no quantitative methodology, at least none that is apparent, was used? Is four dozen people enough of a survey to gauge prevailing Hollywood opinions? How thorough can it be, when it mentions that that Hollywood insiders consider Variety's own chief film critic, Todd McCarthy, to be "the only one contributing something worth listening to" but (tellingly) no mention is made of The Hollywood Reporter's Kirk Honeycutt?