in Review

The Lovely Boned

The Lovely Bones

Let’s go back to some time last summer when trailers for Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones were first revealed. It looked promising with all it’s big budget eye candy and a concept that although strange was unique. I remember folks on the intertube figured this would be a contender for awards season and why not? It’s Peter Jackson the guy who made one of the greatest epic films of all time. A lot of people seemed to have high hopes for this project early on simply because of the man behind it, I know I did. So when reviews finally came in as overwhelmingly negative I was like “Could it really be that bad? Could New Zealand’s favorite son really spend so much time and money on such a dud?” Well after seeing it I was definitely disappointed, primarily for the reason that I could feel the embers of much better movie lost in all the madness.

Coming off of the success of King Kong not to mention some movie about Hobbits or something, Peter Jackson could of made any movie he wanted. With his success I’m sure he could of got any kind of budget he desired, so in a way it was kind of daring to take on such an unconventional story. Adapting Alice Sebold’s novel The Lovely Bones definitely sounds like a neat idea on the surface but then you start to think “Is this really the kind of story that you can translate to the screen?” A movie about the murder of a young girl in the 70s who spends the duration of the story watching over her family in a dreamworld like afterlife? What’s she gonna do the whole movie? Well unfortunately that was the biggest problem, the fancy effects laden afterworld was as dull as Dilbert.

The movie started out promising, Peter Jackson does a fantastic job of transporting as back to the swingin’ seventies and the film builds some fantastic suspense leading up to young Susie’s murder. I was really enjoying myself for the first ten or fifteen minutes but that soon faded as we then followed Susie wandering around some hollow and occasionally cheesy world between worlds. On one end we have Susie wandering through an angelic dreamworld while on the other end, we have her family struggling through intense hardship as her father works intently with Christopher from The Sopranos to solve the mystery of her death. It’s like were repeatedly caught up in intense confrontations and then completely taken out of it to watch Susie sledding or dancing… It’s totally off balance.

The only true thing that keeps this movie alive are the performances. I’ve really liked Saoirse Ronan since her breakout role in Atonement and she’s definitely gifted in the role of Susie Salmon. Rachel Weisz is okay but Marky Mark is actually pretty solid… But if any high praise must be given it goes to Stanley Tucci who is incredibly engaging as Susie’s twisted killer. I’ve always loved Stanley Tucci even when he’s in some sappy melodrama, I’m just drawn to his performances. Stanley Tucci is basically what kept me going through this 2 hour and 15 minute melodramatic misfire.

It’s a real shame to see Peter Jackson drop the ball but even so I’m not sure that it deserves all the flack it’s been getting. Yeah it’s a mess and it’s pretty inconsistent but there’s some good scenes and the performances are entertaining. I haven’t lost faith in Peter Jackson but I’m certainly going to be a little more cautious about walking into one of his movies from now on.