Lovely Bones reviews

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Postby Mister Tee » Sat May 22, 2010 4:27 pm

Most of you are way too kind, here. I think this is in many ways a shockingly bad movie.

And I have to disagree right from the start that the film does any kind of job re-creating 70s America. I thought the early setting-the-scene section didn't ring true for one moment. The cute family arguments, the bullying boyfriend at school – all seemed completely synthetic to me. I'd been one thinking Jackson would be right for this material because of how well Heavenly Creatures worked, but there he kept the "real" story grounded. I wonder if his immersion in fantasy in the decade and a half since has degraded his connection to humanity; for me, this film felt more genuine when he we first stepped into fantasy-land than it had prior (though I quickly tired of the candyland scenes as well).

The one solid decision was casting Ronan as Susie – she perfectly suggested a young-adolescent girl from the rural burbs. But that was much offset by her boyfriend, who looked 22, struck a GQ-model style, and was Asian, for Christ's sake – in rural suburban PA in 1973? Not in any reality I ever inhabited. Sarandon's long-time-slut grandma was another anachronism...Jackson and co-writers applying the modes of today to a time they don't remember well. Oh, and Sarandon's house-cleaning sequence? It was so ridiculously over the top -- like a mash-up of Lucy's ditsiest moments – and had so little relevance to the main body of the story that my jaw was agape throughout. Many other elements – esp. the Weird Connors Girl – were completely undeveloped, as if three hours' footage had been shot and the film was cut down to this length without regard for sense.

The book was no classic, but it was a respectable middle-brow read, thanks to the authorial voice. With that gone, the plot elements seemed random; I found myself forgetting what the narrative through-line was supposed to be. (This is getting to be a chronic problem with Jackson: as in King Kong, he gets so lost in the moment he forgets where he's headed)

As for Tucci, I thought his pre-kill scene with Ronan was maybe the best in the film, and his scene with Imperioli might have been good had the camera not insisted on becoming the lead character there. But, on the whole, I think his nomination was the result of casting, plus anticipation based on his far superior Julie and Julia work – a clear case of Oscar bloggers creating a nomination-by-narrative that ended up costing him recognition for better work.

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Postby Big Magilla » Fri Apr 16, 2010 3:52 am

I avoided this like the plague when it was in theatres expecting another What Dreams May Come.

Having come to it with low expectations, I was pleasantly surprised.

My take is pretty much similar to Damien's. I loved Saoirse Ronan who reminds me very much of a young Jean Simmons. I think she'll be around for a long time, still playing significant parts well into old age.

Mark Wahlberg is also fine, as are Rose McIver as the younger sister and all the kids, for that matter. The other adults, though, all play underwritten characters. Rachel Weisz's grieving mother can't cope with her family situation so after months of moping around she gets a job laboring in the fruit fields of Northern California. Ridiculous. Susan Sarandon, a total idiot of a grandmother, screws up everything she touches, then miraculously turns into Helen Homemaker. Also ridiculous.

Worst of all is Stanley Tucci, so creepy and obvious from the start, that it's difficult to fathom why Ronan's character wouldn't keep running, let alone why he wouldn't be prime suspect No. 1 on everyone else's list. Where did all that awards recognition come from?

The look of the film, when it sticks to everyday life, does bring back the early 70s. The purgatory scenes, though not as ostentatiously ridiculous as the scenes of the afterlife in What Dreams May Come, are too busy. The characters shrouded in smoke or something, leaving things to one's imagination, would have been much better. Like Jackson's version of King Kong, it is overproduced without adding anything.

It's a *** movie thanks to Ronan, Wahlberg, the kids and the 1970s production values. On a numbered scale, I'd say it's 5.5 - 6/10.

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Postby ITALIANO » Mon Feb 15, 2010 4:57 am

But we did that, and then we went to see the movie! ;-)

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Postby Damien » Mon Feb 15, 2010 3:10 am

Sorry, Marco, but it's not as if I raved about the film. A 5/10 rating pretty much screams out "medicority" and I did call it a muddle. As someone who was in his late teens in the time the film is set, I do have to admit the ambience was perfect and had great resonance with me.

But, jeez, what were you doing watching a movie about a girl being murdered by a serial killer on Valentine's Day? You should have been otherwise engaged gettting laid. :D




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Postby ITALIANO » Sun Feb 14, 2010 3:59 pm

I knew it would be bad (though Damien's review had given me some hope - Damien, now you owe me 14 euros for the worst Valentine day of my life!), but not this bad, really - a disaster, and, I'd say, a disaster which should once for all put Peter Jackson in the category he definitely belongs to - that of the seriously overrated directors. The man clearly has no talent for fantasy, which isn't too surprising; but the movie is also badly shot (at times looks like a 70s giallo - which was good and even original back then, but not now) and cut with a machete. A very unpleasant experience, and I won't even go into the dreadful ending ("I wish you a long life")... I must admit that it's still better than The Blind Side though. Or let's say at least less racist.

The acting is dreadful. Which is a pity, because some of the performers are, or can be, good. Stanley Tucci is the kind of solid, reliable character actor who in the 40s would have been nominated already two or three times by now; but we aren't in the 40s anymore, and he gets his first, completely undeserved nomination for the less scary, less threatening serial killer in the history of films.

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Postby Damien » Sun Feb 07, 2010 12:06 am

When it's good, the film is wonderful -- like the beginning of Where The Wild Things Are, early on it is marvelously effective at conveying the mysteries of childhood, although here it's a girl starting adolescence rather than a little boy, The household/family scenes are very convincing as well – this seems like a true middle-class Americn family, circa 1973 – and the initial scenes dealing with the dread and panic over Susie’s being missing, and then the gradual realization by her family that she's dead, are very gripping. But the film ultimately turns into a muddle. Jackson is too enthralled by his own sense of the fantastic, and just as Heavenly Creatures fell apart when the puppet-toon animation began, this film loses its way when Jackson dwells too much on his (admittedly beautifully designed) vision of the after-life. A major flaw is that despite all the after-world sequences we never get an understanding or clear picture of what the film's vision of heaven is. There are also serious gaps in logic -- for instance, Stanley Tucci's character would have been a major suspect -- and narrative flow, for even though without having read the book, one can tell that there were myriad themes and threads running through the novel, because the film picks up on them in dribs and drabs but doesn't follow through effectively on them -- for instance, marital problems between the girl's parents and the father's eventual crazed obsessiveness are treated most perfunctorily. Susan Sarandon shows up as the Grandmother and stars in a montage in which her crazy, supposedly humorous bohemia and housekeeping incompetence are featured and then she pretty much blends into the background, and other characters show up for a big scene or two and then fade away. And there are moments which seem to have been lifted from a cheesy slasher picture. Despite its flaws, the movie is undeniably affecting, much of that because of the beautiful performance of Saoirse Ronan; she’s a very natural, beautifully nuanced actress and she has, I think, the potential to become a major star as she becomes older. The rest of the cast is excellent, although I suspect that Tucci was nominated for the role more than the performance – I prefer him in Julie & Julia. As one who was there, I can definitely say thatthe mid-70s ambience is remarkably accurate. Nice Brian Eno score. And Ronan’s first kiss is a knockout of a scene.

5/10




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Postby FilmFan720 » Thu Feb 04, 2010 4:34 pm

This is a perfect example, and should be shown in film schools, as proof of what happens when every choice a director makes is wrong. He starts off by completely misinterpreting the book: the central idea that heaven (or purgatory) is the reflection of what a person most wanted in life that they can’t get now, the importance of the rape and showing that to the viewer/reader, the focus on the larger story of a family piecing their lives back together…none of this is evident in the film. Instead, you get ugly CGI of Susie Salmon running through self-grandizing landscapes that do nothing to add to the story, and take away from the heart of what Alice Sebold created. Ronan and Wahlberg do a fine job with what they are given, but the trite screenplay does little to develop any sort of character. Tucci is fine as the killer, but his wig does most of the acting for him. The score is atrocious, inappropriate, grating and hollow. In all, it is a painful mess, taking a lovely book and turning it into an ugly ghost story.
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Postby The Original BJ » Tue Dec 15, 2009 3:32 pm

This movie is a serious mess. I honestly wouldn't be surprised to see it come up snake eyes at the Oscars.

I think its biggest problem is that it doesn't find a way to incorporate Susie Salmon's afterlife into the narrative in interesting ways. As a movie heroine, she's shockingly passive, and I found it hugely un-enthralling to watch her sit around on the sidelines as the living characters play out their lives. Ronan's fine -- she's a good, young actress -- but talk about having no character to play. (I'd have to imagine that in the novel, a lot of this worked better.)

I also had a big problem with the film's visuals. I'm not one to criticize low-key effects (I loved the look of Where the Wild Things Are, and Jackson's own Heavenly Creatures), but, MAN, this stuff is chintzy! Any sense of magic is completely ruined by a shoddy aesthetic that feels straight out of a kindergartener's PowerPoint presentation.

And Jackson really fumbles the narrative, too. How do so many of the main characters come to conclude that Tucci is the murderer? I feel like they just SENSE it, like Faye Dunaway in The Thomas Crown Affair. This is also something I assume worked better in the novel, but here it just feels like weak storytelling. The plot is also overstuffed and undernourished -- why is there a five-minute montage of Susan Sarandon's character taking charge of the house when she all but disappears from the narrative afterward? In this way, the film reminds me of a lot of botched novel adaptations, even though I'm not familiar with the source material.

I don't get the buzz for Stanley Tucci at all. AT. ALL. He looks creepy. That's it. And it's almost to the point of self-parody too. He'd be more deserving of recognition for Julie & Julia.

I think the best that can be said for the film is that evidence of Jackson's talent isn't COMPLETELY absent. The opening scenes establish an entrancing milieu that does draw in the viewer. The murder sequence is chilling. And the scene with Susie's sister and Tucci in his house plays incredibly well. But overall, this is pretty sloppy stuff, and a lot of it fails to cohere in any dramatically (or visually) satisfying way.

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Postby Sabin » Thu Dec 10, 2009 2:01 pm

"Bonehead". AHAHAHAHA!



Bonehead
Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones is for morbid nerds
By Armond White
.......

The Lovely Bones
Directed by Peter Jackson
Runtime: 135 min.

JUST AS PUNDITS compile assessments of the millennium’s first movie decade, The Lovely Bones arrives to remind them that Peter Jackson perpetrated the biggest goof in millennial history: the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Like each of those over-scaled, unintelligible, miraculously over-hyped fantasy films, The Lovely Bones demonstrates geek sensibility run amok. Jackson applies his interest in feverish imaginings to the already histrionic conceit of Alice Sebold’s best-selling novel.

And as with J.R.R.Tolkien’s intricate, philosophical epic, Jackson flattens Sebold’s sensitive, sometimes dubious, ideas about girlhood, nostalgia and death into more elfish nonsense. Jackson takes Sebold’s premise—a posthumous lament by 14-year-old Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan), a victim of a serial killer in 1973—and once again pushes all the CGI buttons. His digital metaphysics include Susie’s hindsight nostalgia about her suburban parents (Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz) and her strange next-door neighbor (Stanley Tucci). Not much interested in the details of family life or puberty, Jackson over-stylizes a ghost story—creating convoluted panoramas of Susie watching her death and police investigation and family disintegration from the other side. Slipping past Sebold’s quondam feminist protest (briefly glimpsing Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch, for example), Jackson goes to the edge of lurid sentimentality.
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Piled on dreamscapes and apparitions are part of Jackson’s juvenile taste, but it’s also what made his 1994 bizarro-feminist serial killer fantasy Heavenly Creatures so dis tasteful. (WTF?!?!)

He mixes real-life horror with comic-book sensationalism.When little Susie joins a heavenly chorus of other dead-girl victims (the lovely bones), Jackson never appropriately measures the distance between childhood naiveté and real-world danger. That’s what distinguished Bernard Rose’s similar but surrealistic 1988 Paperhouse. Jackson just ratchets up the F/X—as in the damn LOTR trilogy. Even his short-shrift characterizations depend on whimsical clichés, whether Susie’s blue-eyed innocence or Tucci’s psychopathic Ned Flanders with Nautilis-ized buttocks, surely an Oscarworthy routine.

Jackson’s penchant for monsters and the supernatural results in repeated pop misfires: from Susie’s pointless telepathic communication with a Breakfast Club-style Goth girl to a detective’s (Michael Imperioli) Zodiac-style futility. He even curtails the drama of Susie’s resourceful younger sister Lindsey (Rose McIver), a Silence of the Lambs rip-off. Morbid geek that he is, Jackson also gets the music cues wrong: His climax uses that kitschy, 1980s Brit-pop dirge “Song to the Siren” by This Mortal Coil. It proves Jackson’s fraudulence because Blue Oyster Cult’s “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper” or Warren Zevon’s “Excitable Boy”—the ’70s update of The Everly Brothers’ “Wake Up Little Susie”— would have been chronologically correct and could rectify the film’s absurd mixture of cheap melancholy (Susie’s empty bedroom), regret (Susie’s unconsummated schoolgirl crush) and fantasy escapism. Jackson treats death and grief as a Dungeons & Dragons funhouse. The Lovely Bones is for morbid nerds.
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Postby rudeboy » Thu Dec 10, 2009 3:25 am

I HAVE read the novel, and that's why I never had much hope this would be a good film. I had no idea they'd removed the rape element, though - that explains the PG-13 rating, but pretty much negates any value this film might have had as an adaptation. Ridiculous.

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Postby OscarGuy » Wed Dec 09, 2009 5:56 pm

I've never even read the novel and I still know who killed her.
Wesley Lovell
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Postby flipp525 » Wed Dec 09, 2009 4:44 pm

What exactly is the massive spoiler here? That [SPOILER, I guess...] Stanley Tucci is the murderer? It's nothing the reader doesn’t know from page one of the novel. Not sure how it's portrayed in-film, but even the trailer is pretty clear. This isn't a "whodunit".

I can't believe that Alice Sebold, a rape survivor herself, would've signed off on this project knowing that Susie's rape would be expunged from the plotline. It's a major thread that reverberates throughout the entire novel, especially with regard to her inability to consummate her sexual desire for Ray now that she's dead.

Initial reviews had me concerned, but still hopeful. Now, I'm starting to feel a bit sick about it all. Are performances being seen as off the table now? Maybe Peter Jackson needs to get fucking fat again.




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Postby Jim20 » Wed Dec 09, 2009 3:50 pm

This is disappointing, as someone who looks forward to Peter Jackson's output every few years. Can win 'em all, I guess.

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Postby Sabin » Wed Dec 09, 2009 3:06 pm

The assassination continues...SPOILERS three paragraphs down.

The Lovely Bones (2009)
Reviewed by Lisa Schwarzbaum | Dec 09, 2009
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DETAILS
Release Date: Jan 15, 2010; Limited Release: Dec 11, 2009; Rated: PG-13; Length: 136 Minutes; Genre: Crime; With: Saoirse Ronan, Stanley Tucci, Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz

A dead 14-year-old girl named Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan), murdered on her way home from school in 1973, tells her story from heaven in The Lovely Bones. In doing so, Susie follows the narrative path set for her in the striking 2002 novel by Alice Sebold on which this much-awaited adaptation by Peter Jackson is based. But as directed by the lord of The Lord of the Rings from a screenplay by Jackson, Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens, his bleached Bones bears little resemblance to the book in either tone or complexity. Readers will be frustrated; newcomers to the story may wonder why what is now essentially a serial-killer thriller includes so many scenes of a heaven that looks like a gumdrop-colored hobbit shire, a magical place of fanciful special effects.

In Jackson's simplified, sweetened, and 
 CGI-besotted telling, The Lovely Bones is a sad-but-hopeful, dramatic-but-gentle fairy tale intentionally made less upsetting for teens. (There's no indication that Susie gets raped, as she does in the novel, and her murder occurs off screen.) Atonement's terrific Ronan, with her astonishing glacier-blue eyes, watches from a scenic afterlife as her father (Mark Wahlberg), mother (Rachel Weisz), younger siblings, and selected friends simultaneously heal from their loss and search for her killer. For comic relief, the family's boozy granny (Susan Sarandon) arrives, swathed in mink. Apparently participating in a burlesque movie, Sarandon camps it up, demonstrating terrible housekeeping skills and wreaking grande-dame havoc.

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...As for the killer, he's in plain sight from the beginning — a creepy neighbor (Stanley Tucci) with the hopeless comb-over and furtive mustache of an easy-to-spot perv. Tucci is jolting in the role, honestly unsettling as he maintains an exterior of mildness that masks a grotesque interior. Electrifying danger accompanies his every scene. But this in itself becomes a problem, as that same energy leaves the screen when he does. Jackson reduces his Lovely Bones, in the end, to the dramatic contrast between the menace of a hateful killer (will he be caught?) and the grief of a loving father (can he avenge his daughter's death?). Sebold's Lovely Bones, on the other hand, is fleshed out with the perilous, irresistible power of sex — the author acknowledges a real world of extramarital sex and sex between young lovers in addition to the heinous rape from which moviegoers are shielded. The filmmaker handled the sexual power of girls beautifully in 1994's Heavenly Creatures. But here he shies from the challenge, shortchanging a story that isn't only about the lightness of souls in heaven but also about the urges of bodies on earth. Jackson forfeits depth for safe, surface loveliness. C+




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Postby OscarGuy » Wed Nov 25, 2009 12:28 pm

And no one should be surprised that Jackson departed from the written word in his translation to the screen. He did the same thing with The Lord of the Rings films. Sometimes the written word can't translate exactly to the big screen.
Wesley Lovell

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