Jan 21, 2010

The True Blue "The Lovely Bones" Movie Review

The world of director Peter Jackson is a mystical one that has brought us some highly creative outputs. Who cannot remember the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, where he took the term epic and dared everyone to beat it. The characters and the scenery were amazing, not to mention the main attraction for me, Gollum, who defined the one positive thing we've learned from movie CGI.

For those more educated, what about "Heavenly Creatures"? The pseudo lesbian tale of two Australian teens not only put Kate Winslet on the map, but managed to show an emotional depth into the psyche that should bloody right scare you.
These were the two films that came to mind when seeing "The Lovely Bones", a story of Susie (Saoirse Ronan) who on December 6, 1973 is murdered by a mischievous neighbor, Mr. Harvey (Stanley Tucci). I was expecting that after Jackson has crafted his talent so well to at least be halfway impressed with a story that seemed bleak and pointless.
Well, besides some fun camera work, it pretty much is bleak and pointless.
Somewhere in the back of your mind, you can hear yourself wondering "Oh Peter, where did you go wrong?"
The movie's opening half hour is probably the most entertaining part of this movie, as all it does is set up Susie's story with a whole role of characters, notably family and friends. The narrative is only bogged down by foreshadowing and Mark Wahlberg's portrayal of her father, Jack, has yet to prove how limited his range really is.
But after that half hour mark hits, all hell breaks loose. Mr. Harvey has killed Susie off into a purgatory and Jack smashes bottled sailboats out of frustration as he searches for the killer (add his "start from the beginning, suspect everyone" theory, the next 40 minutes adds insult to injury) and Grandma Lynn (terribly played by Susan Sarandon) comes to babysit. All the while, Susie's sister Abigail (Rachel Weisz) begins to piece things together along with Jack and let the redundancy roll.
All the while, Susie is in this purgatory, filled with metaphorical situations playing out in disappointing bad CGI (especially since Peter Jackson was so damn innovative with "Lord of the Rings") in a land with a ton of gazebos and Holly (Nikki SooHoo), a pointless character who has to convince Susie to leave the past behind.
Susie is also stuck giving a narrative that at first starts off interesting, but as she moves further into her time in death, she becomes too redundant to really feel sympathy. Her method of questioning for sympathy and being an innocent victim loses endearment after two hours.
By the end, the plot's real failure is a mixture of confusion, redundancy, lazy script writing, and actors with a lack of range, notably from Mark Wahlberg who seems to be recalling his role from "The Happening" to a perfect T. In fact, "The Happening" is the one movie that "The Lovely Bones" reminds me of as it's dramatic elements fail and disaster is nothing more than a moment of confusion. However, "The Lovely Bones" is perhaps worse in that it lacks the camp value that redeemed "The Happening" just a bit.
Stanley Tucci barely grazes with the best performance as he manages to play creepy quite well until the movie goes horribly wrong. Saoirse Ronan almost wins sympathy, but is failed by terrible, redundant narration and CGI that at times gets in the way of everything else.
Somehow, this is more disappointing in that it has the stamp of approval from Peter Jackson, who misleads you by years of hard work. His better adaptations can even be seen referenced in "The Lovely Bones", making you wonder if Jackson was really passionate about the project or if he really had something else in mind.
This in no way manages to blend the CGI brilliance of "Lord of the Rings" with the emotional depth of "Heavenly Creatures", but it does come off as a befuddled mess that is in no way good and instead leaves you confused on not only what's going on, but if you honestly believe movies about dead teenagers is really morally a good thing.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

1 comment:

  1. This little actress is excellent and I think she should have been chosen to play the lead in the Hunger Games! The bad guy is REALLY creepy and I'm sure there ARE monsters like him out there. All the actors were very good and this story just seemed like it could really happen no matter how careful you are with your children! Susan Sarandon was WONDERFUL as the chain smoking Grandma! Worth watching to the very end just to see what Karma the pervert gets!