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A movie that could have been a masterpiece which sadly isn't...
If there's one thing I dislike more than a bad movie it's a bad movie with aspirations of greatness. This movie wants to be great. A work of art. Possibly a masterpiece. I have no doubt that Oscars were whispered of at some point during production. But here's the catch: it's no good.
Something strange happened with the adaptation of Alice Sebold's novel "The Lovely Bones" by Peter Jackson and his collaborators. The book was one of the most read in the country after it was published. Unfortunately, what comes out on the screen is far from what Ms. Sebold wrote about, so the finished product is, at times, irritating, at best. The mere thought of translating the text into a motion picture, must have been a daunting work on the part of Mr. Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens.
The story is a very intriguing one, but it is quite slow complete with holes and any parts that strived to be heartbreaking came across as mawkish. The script is quite weak often. But what hurt the film most was some aspects of Peter Jackson's direction. Jackson is a good director don't get me wrong(he was the main reason that I wanted to watch the movie), but he does make some decisions that detract from the impact of the story rather than enhance it. Especially with the CGI, not that it was bad CGI in fact it looked quite good, what I mean was that there was a complete overload of it and I think some of it was unnecessary. The movie is overloaded with fantasy scenes with too-loud sounds, and it omits much of the thoughtful narration of the murdered girl. The movie veers from mystery to fantasy, back and forth, satisfying neither format. And the small love-story between Susie and Reece is not portrayed with panache and it feels nothing more than a puppy love.
The Lovely Bones
However, the film does look absolutely beautiful, with beautiful scenery and cinematography. The score gives a haunting, eerie and intoxicating quality too. While the story is flawed, there is a good atmosphere especially in the more chilling scenes, where they are quite chilling and that's an understatement. Apart from two performances, the acting is quite good. The best performance comes from the very promising child actress Saiorse Ronan, who is just tremendous here. She was perfect for the role. She has a beautiful spirit about her that makes you embrace her. She's so likable that that you care about her character and what happens to her. Thanks to the sweet-faced and deeply affecting Ronan, you'll never forget Susie Salmon. Stanley Tucci is very chillingly effective too, and Mark Wahlberg is surprisingly good. The two performances I wasn't so taken with were Rachel Weisz, who is wasted. She would have had a lot of scope for acting out her grief if the movie had stuck with the book, instead of rushing her out to the wine country of California and making it look like she had been away for just a few months. And then there is normally solid Susan Sarandon, who overplays quite badly. She plays the child's Grandma Lynn who appears early in the movie and does not really help the weak screenplay. Mark Wahlberg as the grieving father is just adequate. I believe the weak screenplay limited both him and Rachel Weisz.
The music, as opposed to fantasy sounds, is excellent. The locales are authentic and well-shot. The writing of dialog in the real-life "mystery" scenes is good. But there is an abundance of fantasy scenes which for us added nothing and frustrated our enjoyment of the plot and good acting. There's also a thriller aspect to the movie, and this part is well-done, but it's also overwhelmed by the excessive fantasy scenes.
Instead of focusing on how Suzie's feelings evolved while she was in the in between place, after her murder, Jackson resorted to inordinate amounts of special effects. The CGI worked well in Lord of the rings and Kingkong, but this movie needed a different kind of handling, with CGI being used only where essential. The special effects in this movie are overpowering and they eclipse the movie.
So, a movie that could have been a masterpiece which sadly isn't. Loads of plot holes, Unsatisfying ending and the unnecessary use of CGI spoils the movie So I rate it 5.5 out of 10.
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