10:00 am EDT, January 11, 2016

‘Shadowhunters’ review: Filled with potential and a great cast

Shadowhunters is the small screen adaption of Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instrument series and airs on Freeform (formerly ABC Family) on Tuesday January 12. We took a sneak peek at the pilot and think it is definitely worth watching.

This is the second attempt to adapt Clare’s Mortal Instruments series which was made into a movie in 2013. The small screen adaption takes a different approach to the beloved novels. While different doesn’t always mean better there are definitely some aspects of the show that are great.

What we loved!

The Cast
The cast is definitely a big plus in this adaptation. Dominic Sherwood embodies Jace’s arrogance but there is also something more there. He balances perfectly with Alberto Rosende as Simon. Alberto plays Simon as quirky and likeable but also caring and practical. His main focus is on keeping Clary (Katherine McNamara) safe, and maybe getting her to notice that he is just a little bit in love with her. Emeraude Toubia as Isabelle is sassy and sexy but also smart. She is capable of fighting her own battles, and given a couple comments made in the pilot, Isabelle is quite capable of taking care of herself.

Matt Daddario is an excellent choice for Alec. He brings a seriousness to the character that comes from being responsible for something more than yourself. The pilot gives us a clear look at Alec being the most reserved member of group and hints at his reasons for disliking Clary so much. Shadowhunters gives Alec the depth of character seen in the novels which will continue to be interesting to watch, especially in the next episode when Alec will meet Magnus.

magnus-clary

What we liked

The Plot
Overall the plotlines are sticking close to the book. Clary is unaware she is a shadowhunter, she meets Jace who has no idea who she is, and the two find themselves on an adventure of sorts. Valentine is still looking for the Mortal Cup to create an army. One thing to note is that while the overarching plotlines are the same, the timelines of how things happen are different.

There are definitely plotlines that occur at the end of City of Bones that occur in the pilot. This does not take away from story and it works within the episode. There is also the addition of a new plotline concerning the Circle. It will be interesting to see how this is incorporated into the original story and what it will add to the series as it progresses.

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Another area that was interesting to see was the update to things like the Institute. While it is still housed in the glamour of an abandoned church, the inside looks much more high tech. At one point, Jace, Izzy, and Alec are working in what looks like a headquarters filled with other shadowhunters and a crazy amount of technology. This was not how the Institute was described in the novel, but it works.

What we hope gets better

While the pilot is good at introducing us to the world and its characters, there were a few places that missed the mark. Valentine’s location and what he is doing is a bit unusual and it is unclear where it is going. Alan Van Sprang is great as the slightly off balanced baddy so it will be interesting to see what they do to develop his character.

Another area that fell short on occasion was the dialogue. There were a few times that the dialogue fell flat or the jokes were a little too on the nose. This isn’t the first pilot where this has happened and the hope is that — given a little time — Shadowhunters will find its voice.

jace-clary-bedroom

The Verdict

While Shadowhunters isn’t perfect it does have the potential to be a good adaptation. The cast is fantastic and has the potential to make this show special. Given that we have yet to see some of our favorite characters interact, there is plenty to look forward to. The problems with the pilot were minor and can be worked out as we see more of the world. Overall, Shadowhunters is worth watching but if you are a book reader you have to have an open mind. Things aren’t going to unfold exactly as they did in the book but the heart of the story still beats within the show.

Related: What book fans hope for in the small screen adaptation

Will you be watching ‘Shadowhunters’ on Tuesday?

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