Friday, January 8, 2010

The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones
Year: 2009
Director: Peter Jackson
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Rachel Weisz, Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Susan Surandon

In My Own Words
I really didn’t want to write this review. Not because I have lost motivation at all, or even that I am not in the mood. I didn’t want to write this review because I always hate writing bad things about a movie I have really been looking forward to. However, this is all part of being a film critic and it has to be done.

I read the book “The Lovely Bones” by Alice Sebold about 2 months ago and I absolutely loved it. It was one of the most beautiful books I had read in so long. I had been looking forward to the movie before it, but after I read the book, it was leading the way as the Boxing Day release that I most wanted to see. Obviously it took me a bit longer to actually get around to seeing it though. I thought that the book was so wonderful that nobody, especially Peter Jackson, could make it into a bad movie. It was a silly thought to have, as 40 minutes into the film I was thinking “This book should have never been made into a movie”. The book is just far too complex with too much emotion in its words to be transferred onto the screen in a two hour movie. In saying this, there are certain aspects that could and should have been done better. Maybe Peter Jackson should stick to the adventure genre that he has established himself in.

It’s such a dull feeling seeing a film that you expected so much out of when it turns out to be far less than your expectations. I normally try not to expect too much from movies so I won’t be disappointed if it is a flop, but this one I felt so strongly about considering it is such an amazing novel. My advice, read the book if you think the film sounds interesting. You’ll feel more satisfied after that than the film. Harsh, but true.

These are my own words and here is my review.

“The Lovely Bones” is the return to the drama film for award-winning director Peter Jackson. Box office wise it is a triumphant return, but critically wise, not at all. This film could have been spectacular, but it falls in a mess not even half way through. “The Lovely Bones”, based on the best seller written by Alice Sebold, is about a young girl by the name of Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan) who is murdered by a man in her hometown and travels to her own heaven. From there she watches all the people on Earth that she has left behind and who are affected by her death.

One would think that “The Lovely Bones” would be an extremely moving movie that so much could be done with. Peter Jackson turns it into just that, a movie that so much COULD have been done with. This is probably the wrong way to say it, Jackson does do so much with the movie, but it isn’t the right mixture to make the film into a masterpiece. Fans of the book will be severely disappointed in this film and people who have not read the book will be confused and disappointed. Jackson overdoes certain aspects of the film and neglects others. It is no doubt that there are some dazzling images and the cinematography is amazing throughout the film, but a film with a subject matter such as this cannot rely on stunning images to pull it through. If the film was primarily about the afterlife, this may have been acceptable, but throwing what is happening where Susie was left behind makes it an uneven balance. There is not enough of the emotions which her family go through to make it a particularly emotional film or to feel any connection to these characters at all. People who have not read the book and watch the film, will be confused with some parts and wonder why some things are happening, particularly at the end. Jackson leaves much of the book out and some parts which he does include, do not make sense without the parts he leaves out. In Jackson’s defence, he would have to make the film far longer than what it actually was to truly capture the essence of the emotion which is supposed to be felt as well as the beauty of heaven.

The acting in the film is not half bad, although there is not enough of it. Ronan is the star of the film and does do a good job. She exhibits the characteristics of a young, innocent teenage girl and goes through the emotions to come to the understanding of her death. Rachel Weisz and Mark Wahlberg as Susie’s parents, are good in parts, but far more could have been done with their characters. Although they do well with what is given to them, there is no chemistry between them on the screen, but this can be attributed to no in depth character and relationship development throughout the film. Stanley Tucci, as Susie’s murderer, is the stand out of the film. His character is the only one with is well developed and creates a bond with the audience. He oozes the air of that unusual neighbour that nobody knows much about, but everybody knows there is something not quite right about him. In all, the acting is not bad by any of the characters, bit is just badly directed.

It is such a shame to see Peter Jackson’s direction take a downturn after the success of “The Lord Of the Rings” and his remake of “King Kong”. It would seem that he tried to take the winning aspects from his prior successes and bring them into “The Lovely Bones”, a film that does not rely on special effects to make it memorable. “The Lovely Bones” is first and foremost, a disappointment.



  1. Wow. I actually liked this much. Of course I never read the book, but still. I'm sorry you were disappointed, it always sucks anticipating something and then being sorely disappointed.

  2. Hey, thanks for following my blog. It's a shame about this film, it's not out here in the UK yet so I haven't seen it but Peter Jackson always struck me as the wrong director for it.