Lovely Bones reviews

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Postby Big Magilla » Wed Nov 25, 2009 11:18 am

A ** out of ***** pan by the Guardian with lots of spoilers. Read it at your peril:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/film....-review

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Postby Sonic Youth » Tue Nov 24, 2009 10:56 pm

jack wrote:The Problem, however, with the Film Review review is that they compairing the novel with the film as though that's the way to review a literery adaptaion. In no circumstance did the revewer give their opinion of the film as a stand-alone...

I'm sure it will even out with positive reviews that do the same.

Anyway, a lot of people have read this book, so a lot of people will be wondering the same thing and making the same comparisons. So I don't think it's an unfair review.




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Postby jack » Tue Nov 24, 2009 10:12 pm

The Problem, however, with the Film Review review is that they compairing the novel with the film as though that's the way to review a literery adaptaion. In no circumstance did the revewer give their opinion of the film as a stand-alone...

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Postby Sonic Youth » Tue Nov 24, 2009 9:31 pm

More proof that Harry Knowles can't be trusted. All three reviews from the trade papers are, in varying degrees, disappointing.


The Lovely Bones -- Film Review
By Kirk Honeycutt, November 24, 2009 08:00 ET
Hollywood Reporter


Peter Jackson certainly is familiar with the challenges of satisfying filmgoers' expectations, having helmed three films derived from J.R.R. Tolkien's immensely popular "Lord of the Rings" novel and a second remake of the iconic film "King Kong." So Alice Sebold's best-selling novel "The Lovely Bones," published in 2002, should be right in his wheelhouse. In this case, though, he has changed the focus and characters to such a significant degree that his film might resonate more with those who have not read the book.

Sebold's otherworldly meditation on unspeakable tragedy and hard-earned healing has been transformed by Jackson into something akin to a supernatural suspense thriller. A philosophical story about family, memory and obsession has regrettably become a mawkish appeal to victimhood.

Readers' eagerness to see the film version, plus Jackson's name above the title, should deliver a significant boxoffice take during the film's initial release. Whether "Bones" will sustain those numbers as it expands domestically and then into foreign territories in January is unclear. This is, to Jackson's credit, daring and deeply unsettling material.

"Bones" is the story of Susie Salmon, a 14-year-old girl who is murdered Dec. 6, 1973. She is adjusting to her new home in heaven while watching life on Earth continue without her. Her family goes through hell -- her dad having the most difficult time dealing with her disappearance -- while her killer, a neighbor, covers his tracts.

Sebold's stroke of genius is to place her heroine in heaven immediately. She can thus describe with an empathetic dispassion her own rape-murder and her family's realization that the eldest daughter will not be coming home.

In literary terms, she is a first-person narrator and an omniscient observer: She can enter the minds of other characters to know what they're thinking and can even see into the past.

As the years roll by, she witnesses how healing slowly comes but at great cost. A few characters even realize she never completely left; they sense her presence and, on occasion, believe they see her.

The movie, written by Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, is more concentrated, in time and focus. Nor can they get past the crime. They see their movie as a murder thriller, so the role of the killer, George Harvey, has been expanded and is played by fine actor Stanley Tucci (almost unrecognizably so).

The film ventures only about a year into a future without Susie. And, like any crime thriller, it worries about the killer and how he will get caught. It even has Susie rage in heaven against her murderer, demanding vengeance.

In shifting the emphasis, the film version must all but abandon the crumbling relationship between Susie's dad, Jack (Mark Wahlberg), and mother, Abigail (Rachel Weisz), and dramatically alters the nature of the police detective's (Michael Imperioli) involvement with the family.

In the novel, the father immediately senses that George killed his daughter but has no proof, so his mental deterioration makes sense. In the film, he has no clue who murdered his daughter; he just goes nuts.

Saoirse Ronan, so impressive in "Atonement," plays Susie, and she's terrific. She is the glue that holds the story together. Her piercing blue eyes and heartfelt anguish animate both heaven and earth.

This heaven, described only sketchily in the novel, permits Jackson the full range of his visual imagination. Jackson paints a surreal outdoor palace of changing seasons and environments with rainbow colors and swift-as-thought transitions.

Andrew Lesnie's cinematography and Naomi Shohan's production design make earth and heaven not-quite-authentic places. Earth is a suburban, small-town America, more idealized than real. It's as if Susie, in heaven, imagines the town in her mind rather than as she actually sees it. Meanwhile, her heaven is a timeless fantasia that reflects her mental outlook.

The movie relies on the emotionalism of a young girl murdered and an unrepentant killer lurking nearby. It just barely has time for the story's most colorful character, the alcoholic grandmother (Susan Sarandon), who moves in and takes charge of the nearly dysfunctional Salmon household.

The film certainly plays well enough as a melodrama-cum-revenge thriller. The suspense of Susie's sister (Rose McIver) breaking into George's house to find a damning trace of her sister is pure Hitchcock. And Susie's diaphanous appearances -- and a girlfriend (Carolyn Dando) who can "see" her -- suggest "The Sixth Sense."

But a reader might regret the loss of the real issues between Susie's mom and dad. Oddly, in the early minutes, the film hints at developing this only to drop it. Was there a longer version that underwent cuts? Indeed, more than a few characters get introduced briefly only to virtually disappear once everything boils down to victim and perpetrator.

This was never going to be an easy story to film. Using the same characters and many events, Jackson and his team tell a fundamentally different story. It's one that is not without its tension, humor and compelling details. But it's also a simpler, more button-pushing tale that misses the joy and heartbreak of the original.




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Postby jack » Tue Nov 24, 2009 8:05 pm

From Daily Variety:

Not so good, it pains me to say....

The Lovely Bones
(U.S.-U.K.)
By TODD MCCARTHY

'The Lovely Bones'
Saoirse Ronan plays murdered teen Susie Salmon in Peter Jackson's 'The Lovely Bones,' based on the book by Alice Sebold.
A Paramount release (in U.S.) of a DreamWorks Pictures presentation in association with Film4 of a Wingnut Films production. Produced by Carolynne Cunningham, Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson, Aimee Peyronnet. Executive producers, Tessa Ross, Steven Spielberg, Ken Kamins, James Wilson. Co-producers, Philippa Boyens, Anne Bruning, Marc Ashton. Directed by Peter Jackson. Screenplay, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, based on the novel by Alice Sebold.

Jack Salmon - Mark Wahlberg
Abigail Salmon - Rachel Weisz
Grandma Lynn - Susan Sarandon
George Harvey - Stanley Tucci
Len Fenerman - Michael Imperioli
Susie Salmon - Saoirse Ronan
Lindsey Salmon - Rose McIver
Buckley Salmon - Christian Ashdale
Ray Singh - Reece Ritchie

Peter Jackson's infatuation with fancy visual effects mortally wounds "The Lovely Bones." Alice Sebold's cheerily melancholy bestseller, centered upon a 14-year-old girl who narrates the story from heaven after having been brutally murdered, provides almost ready-made bigscreen material. But Jackson undermines solid work from a good cast with show-offy celestial evocations that severely disrupt the emotional connections with the characters. The book's rep, the names of Jackson and exec producer Steven Spielberg, and a mighty year-end push by Paramount/DreamWorks will likely put this over with the public to a substantial extent, but it still rates as a significant artistic disappointment.

There has been cautious optimism among longtime Jackson followers that this material might inspire him to create a worthy companion piece to his 1994 "Heavenly Creatures," which similarly involves teenagers and murder in an otherwise tranquil setting and remains far and away his best film. The potential was certainly there in the book, which reminds of Dennis Lehane's successfully filmed novels "Mystic River" and "Gone Baby Gone" in its devastating emotional trauma, but offers the distinctive perspective of the most entirely plausible omniscient narrator in modern literature.

Unfortunately, the massive success Jackson has enjoyed in the intervening years with his CGI-heavy "The Lord of the Rings" saga (the source of which receives fleeting homage in a bookstore scene here) and "King Kong" has infected the way he approaches this far more intimate tale. Instead of having the late Susie Salmon occupy a little perch in an abstract heavenly gazebo from which she can peer down upon her family and anyone else -- all that is really necessary from a narrative point of view -- the director has indulged his whims to create constantly shifting backdrops depicting an afterlife evocative of "The Sound of Music" or "The Wizard of Oz" one moment, "The Little Prince" or "Teletubbies" the next.

It's a shame, because the first half-hour or so suggests that Jackson, had he taken a vow to keep it real and use not a single visual effect, still has it in him to relate a human story in a direct, vibrant manner. Aided immeasurably by the spirited teen actress Saoirse Ronan ("Atonement"), who plays Susie, the early scenes depicting the ordinary life of the Salmon family in a midsized Pennsylvania town possess a heightened quality charged by lively thesping and Andrew Lesnie's dynamic mobile camera (pic was shot with the Red digital camera system).

"We weren't those people, those unlucky people to whom bad things happen," Susie intones from above, as we watch her interact with attractive young parents Jack and Abigail (Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz), sporty sister Lindsey (Rose McIver) and younger brother Buckley (Christian Ashdale), boozy glamorpuss grandma Lynn (Susan Sarandon) and handsome first crush Ray Singh (Reece Ritchie), just before she announces she was murdered on Dec. 6, 1973.

Even before the deed is done, it's plainly stated that the perpetrator is neighborhood solitary guy George Harvey (Stanley Tucci), a man marked as creepy by his utter ordinariness. While Tucci, adorned with stringy blondish-brown hair, moustache, large glasses and a raspy voice that tightens and elevates under pressure, is good enough to validate all the scenes involving this bland monster, Jackson shows his low-budget horror-film roots in the way he shoots the sinister scenes, with silhouetting white lights, heavy fog effects, wide-angle closeups and generic synth backgrounding from Brian Eno's otherwise effective score.

While the script by the "Rings" trio of Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Jackson at first inventively reshuffles elements to cinematic advantage, over time it serves more to dilute the impact of some story elements -- the father's obsessive determination to nail George no matter what, Lindsay's romance, the passage of years -- and eliminate others, including Ray's beautiful, long-suffering mother and the relationship between Abigail and local cop Len Fenerman (Michael Imperioli), whose efforts to solve Susie's murder are maddeningly frustrated.

Once Susie is installed in her heavenly quarters, for which Jackson digitally dedicates himself to continuously changing the wallpaper, the emotional link to the family is ruptured and never fully repaired. There are intermittently intense scenes: Lindsey proves herself a resourceful if somewhat reckless spy, and the ever-meticulous George almost blows his cover on occasion. The way Jackson only partially reveals the killer's face at times is effective but stands in stark contrast to the wobbly treatment of so much else.

As the story progresses -- in a way that points to resolution in one sense and a simple petering out in another -- it becomes clear that the actors are being deprived of any meaty, well-developed scenes to play; we learn more about them early on than toward the end, making this a film of slowly diminishing returns.

With reddish hair, brilliantly alive eyes and a seemingly irrepressible impulse for movement and activity, Ronan represents a heavenly creature indeed, a figure of surging, eager, anticipatory life cut off just as it is budding. Less quicksilver and more solidly built, McIver's Lindsey properly begins in her live-wire sister's shadow only to grow gradually into an impressive figure. Chain-smoking and depleting the liquor cabinet, Sarandon camps it up for a few welcome laughs, while Ritchie seems a likely candidate for teen idolhood.

Mainly, it's Wahlberg and Weisz who are shortchanged by the film's divided attention between earthly agony and astral accommodation. Both thesps are OK as far as things go, but that's not nearly far enough.

When it sticks to the everyday neighborhood inhabited by its characters, "The Lovely Bones," which was shot on Pennsylvania locations and in New Zealand studios, finds a reasonable equilibrium between drama and production values. When it ventures beyond it, heaven turns into Hades.

Camera (Deluxe color, widescreen, DV), Andrew Lesnie; editor, Jabez Olssen; music, Brian Eno; production designer, Naomi Shohan; art directors, Chris Shriver, Jules Cook; set designers, Philip Thomas, Darryl Longstaffe, Barry Read, Christina Crawford, Miriam Barrard; set decorators, George DeTitta Jr., Meg Everist; costume designer, Nancy Steiner; sound (Dolby Digital/DTS/SDDS), Hammond Peek; supervising sound editors, Brent Burge, Chris Ward; sound designers, Dave Whitehead, Christopher Boyes; re-recording mixers, Boyes, Michael Semanick, Michael Hedges; senior visual effects supervisor, Joe Letteri; visual effects supervisor, Christian Rivers; digital visual effects, Weta Digital; stunt coordinator, Peter Bucossi; assistant director, Carolynne Cunningham; second unit director, Richard Bluck; casting, Victoria Burrows, Scot R. Boland, Avy Kaufman, Jina Jay, Liz Mullane. Reviewed at the Landmark, Los Angeles, Nov. 18, 2009. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 136 MIN.




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Postby jack » Tue Nov 24, 2009 7:05 pm

From the UK's Total Film:


The Lovely Bones (tbc)
Peter Jackson’s quest for the Ever After ends happily...

****/*****

BY: Jamie Graham Nov 24th 2009

Is there a filmmaker in history who’s made four bigger back-to-back movies than Peter Jackson? Fellowship, Two Towers, King, Kong… that’s a total of 30 words in the full titles, 745 minutes in running time (883 if we’re talking the extended cuts), $1.3bn at the box office and more spectacle, CG extras and horizon-stretching battles than a T-Rex could shake an Oliphant at.

So how’s this for a change of pace: an intimate family drama set in a small American town (one street, primarily) and faultlessly recreating the early ‘70s. It’s a lost world but there’s not a dinosaur in sight – though a beast does live across the street and Jackson gets to flex the fantasy once more by visualising a land so vast and fertile it makes Middle-earth look like a disused parking lot. Welcome to heaven.

Confused? Then you haven’t read Alice Sebold’s 2002 bestseller The Lovely Bones, to which Jackson and partners Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens cleave faithfully but not, wisely, reverentially. It tells the imaginative, heartfelt tale of Susie Salmon (“like the fish”), a 14-year-old who is raped and killed by Mr Harvey, her inconspicuous neighbour. Only she’s not ready to die, instead loitering around the gateway to the afterlife and peering back over her shoulder as the murder investigation unfurls below.

Sensitively cast - Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz as Susie’s parents, Susan Sarandon as vulgar Grandma, a bewigged, bespectacled Stanley Tucci as Harvey and Atonement’s Saoirse Ronan as poor, hurting Susie – Lovely Bones is a touching, at times distressing film. It deals with loss, grief, rage, familial breakdown and love, most of all love. But it’s also energetic and entertaining, the camera already moving whenever Jackson cuts into a scene and the horror/thriller elements given just enough fizz to recall the director’s early genre forays (minus the splatter) but not so comic book as to undercut the drama.

Likewise the emotion, Lovely Bones teetering along the thin, thin line that separates genuinely affecting from schmaltzy. How can it not, with colours popping from heavenly vistas (cornfields, lakes, mountains and more, the picture postcard views forever morphing to reflect Susie’s emotional state) and Wahlberg’s wide, earnest eyes rimmed with tears. Some will label it What Dreams May Come 2, and even those plugged in might experience a short circuit splutter come the 12-hankie denouement. But many more - the book’s fans, certainly - will exit exalted.

Next up for Jackson are Tintin and The Hobbit. Well if Lovely Bones was a chance for cinema’s supreme showman to get his breath back, one thing’s for certain: the air sure tastes sweet.


Verdict:
A sister film to Heavenly Creatures, brimming with not just tears but imagination, thrills and verve. It’s heart-on-sleeve, sure, but it also has a whiff of awards potential. The Academy loves a good cry...




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Postby Sonic Youth » Tue Nov 24, 2009 6:50 pm

Screendaily's review.

The Lovely Bones
24 November, 2009 | By Mike Goodridge
Dir: Peter Jackson. US. 2009. 135 mins.



Peter Jackson’s eagerly awaited film version of Alice Sebold’s bestselling novel is sometimes exquisitely realised, sometimes frustratingly uneven. Sebold’s time-spanning story – taking place half on earth, half in heaven, narrated in the first person by a deal girl – was never an easy prospect for adaptation, and Jackson can’t quite capture a fluid structural rhythm for the piece, even while individual sequences and creative decisions are spot-on.

The power of the story of a young family devastated by murder is undeniable and the blockbuster film-maker demonstrates subtlety and tenderness in his treatment of the emotive subject matter. But he also almost blows it all with his afterworld special effects, smothering Sebold’s delicate conceit with overblown visuals and ostentatious CGI.

While The Lovely Bones is as dark as it gets thematically, it will still be an event movie for the adult audience. Both Jackson and the novel have myriad fans who will be eager to see what the New Zealand master has done with it. Paramount is putting the film out in limited release in the US on Dec 11 before going wide on Jan 15; aside from Australia and New Zealand which open on Dec 26, the rest of the world starts releasing from Jan onwards to capitalise on inevitable awards buzz.

The Lovely Bones will doubtless prompt comparisons with Jackson’s ground-breaking 1994 feature Heavenly Creatures, his version of a true murder story which blended (more restrained) special effects fantasies into its narrative fabric. Once again his eye for the period detail – this time 1973 Pennsylvania – is impeccable and he has again cast a young and exciting actress in the leading role. Then it was 18 year-old Kate Winslet in her first film role, this time it’s the 15 year-old Irish ingénue Saoirse Ronan.

Ronan is luminous as the fresh, likeable 14 year-old Susie Salmon who is about to [spoilers hidden] [color=white]embark on her first romance with handsome English immigrant Ray Singh (Reese Ritchie) when her neighbour George Harvey (Stanley Tucci) lures her into an underground dugout in a cornfield where he rapes and kills her.

The dead Susie enters an afterworld of her own imagining (although it bears some resemblance to the afterworld in Vincent Ward’s What Dreams May Come) and from there watches as her parents Jack (Mark Wahlberg) and Abigail (Rachel Weisz) and siblings crumple under the gradual realisation that she has been murdered. Although her body is not discovered, the cop on the case (Michael Imperioli) informs them that she is probably dead.

As the years go by, Jack and his oldest daughter Lindsey (Rose McIver) begin to suspect Harvey, while Susie’s friend in heaven Holly (Nikki SooHoo) tries to persuade her to leave earth behind. But Susie has yet to find closure, still perturbed by the fact that Harvey is still at large and that her longing for Ray remains unconsummated.


Jackson captures the grim essence of the novel even while compressing much of its character development and plot detail. And if the rhythm is problematic, his film-making bravado is constantly in evidence most notably in the heart-stopping scene when Lindsey breaks into Harvey’s house.

The down-to-earth sections are far more engaging than the afterlife and indeed the first 20 minutes before the murder are the film’s best. Ronan leaves a strong impression during these sequences, and they are enough to make her the film’s emotional anchor, even after the character becomes more abstract in her surreal heaven.

Tucci is a perfect foil for her winsome beauty; his chilling, complex characterisation of the serial killer earmarking him for awards attention.

Wahlberg and McIver are both memorable as the shattered father and resourceful sister respectively, although the other female roles played by Weisz and Sarandon are woefully under-written.[/color]



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Postby jack » Tue Nov 24, 2009 5:57 pm

Ahh, that was lovely.

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Postby Big Magilla » Mon Nov 23, 2009 9:06 pm

Poorly written, but gives a good sense of the film. Warning: contains spoilers.

http://www.aintitcool.com/node/43177


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